|It gets worse
What a depressing story from Andrew Griffith's, First's Regional Manager for the Severn / Solent area, who came to talk to the Melksham Rail Development Group and others who wanted to attend on Friday evening.
Andrew was able to tell us of a number of campaigning successes over the new train and franchise arrangements in the Great Western Area, including recently the buy-back of "Part of the Swindon to Southampton Service" - i.e. the section from Westbury to Southampton, and it sounds like there's better hope for Ivybridge which is threatened with service cuts.
For the Swindon to Westbury section? Congratulations from Andrew on raising the traffic levels by 100% in the last 3 years, but telling us that it's still not enough. Astonishing news to those of us who have travelled of late - at times it's getting hard to find a seating bay free now. We're still two trains a day. And the peak hour trains have been moved even further away from the true time they're needed, CONTRARY to all the requests that have been copied to me (at least) in reply to the consultation process that First ran. A real slap in the face!
If it's getting hard to get a seat now, and "even with another doubling of traffic the line still wouldn't be profitable", Andrew's telling us that ANY operation based on a single 153 train isn't economically justified and even if we fill the train, First will have to take it off.
However, the Government has specified two trains a day one of which is to be in the rush-hour, and the planners and decision makers have come up with this clever scheme to raid the Gloucester to Swindon train for a couple of hours before the morning rush hour and after the evening rush hour to fill in the service. The train isn't well timed, and there's a strong chance it will be carrying fresh air. And I can't see how it can fail to make a bigger loss. Crazy!
Written 2006-05-15 07:43:05
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