May 2013: Dear All,
On Wednesday the passenger group, and other interested parties, met with the DfT and ARUP (the consultants appointed by the DfT to investigate bringing electrification beyond Newbury). The purpose of the meeting was for ARUP to present their draft report.
ARUP (rail consultants) were appointed to look into the Benefits Cost Ratio (BCR) of four options. For an option to be feasible the BCR has to be greater than 2.0. This relates to getting double the cost of investment back over a period of 60 years.
Option 1: Continue electrification beyond Newbury to Bedwyn
Option 2: Continue electrification beyond Newbury to Westbury
Option 3: Continue electrification beyond Newbury to Westbury and the Mendip Quarries
Option 4: Continue electrification beyond Newbury to Westbury and onto Batheaston Junction
Option 2 is surprisingly low and it turns out that the DfT instructed ARUP to do the Westbury study on a comparison with the existing timetable (i.e. Westbury and Pewsey retaining stops on the long-haul diesel trains – currently the HST rolling stock). This is in contrast to option 1 which was made on the comparison of the results of electrifying only to Newbury (i.e. Bedwyn, Hungerford and Kintbury being on a diesel shuttle service to Newbury).
In conclusion the likely scenario is that Pewsey and Westbury will stay as they are (i.e. direct diesel Reading/Paddington services) and Kintbury, Hungerford and Bedwyn will be electrified. The timing is a worry as currently there is no spare money for electrifying to Bedwyn. Thus electrification to Bedwyn might not happen until the next period (2019 to 2024). This gives cause for concern in how Kintbury, Hungerford and Bedwyn will be served between 2016 (when electrification comes to Newbury) and 2019 (or later). I understand that Claire Perry and Richard Benyon will be raising this.
From the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group’s point of view our campaign has always been to maintain our direct services to Reading and London Paddington. Our campaign was always based on using diesel stock to form an hourly Paddington to Westbury service calling at Reading, Theale, Thatcham, Newbury, Kintbury, Hungerford, Bedwyn, Pewsey and Westbury. We never wanted to be the ones that were seen to bring overhead gantries and replacement rail bridges through an AONB. However, electrification now appears to be the only deal on the table to save our through services.
In terms of the parking issue at Bedwyn what is being proposed will not alter the frequency of trains (and calling patterns) of the current situation. Therefore we don’t envisage an increase in the Bedwyn parking issue as a result of electrification.
Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group
The franchise bidding process for the Great Western Region has been cancelled and, for "at least" the next two years, the franchise remains with FirstGroup.
We will be asking questions of the rail minister and contacting Claire Perry for her input so we will refrain from making comment on what this might mean for services from Pewsey until we have drilled down into the detail which is, after all, often where the devil is to be found.
We will update you as soon as we have answers that clarify what this means for our services.
These are the facts that we know so far, which were discussed last night in Pewsey and an action plan devised:•
• The closing date for franchise bids is Thursday 25th October 2012.
• There are 4 franchise companies who have been invited to tender by the Department of Transport.
• The terms of the franchise offer, at best, an uncertain through train from Pewsey.
• To protest our concerns letters need to be presented to the 4 franchisees prior to the deadline of Thursday 25th October 2012 and letters sent to Claire Perry, our elected MP for Devizes, asking questions of the Minister of Transport.
At present we can only speculate as to what level of service from Pewsey each of the bidders will offer as part of their bid. And the terms of the franchise offer little certainty with regards to services. We must assume the worst and, without pressure, the worst is what we are likely to get.
We must act now to ensure we are part of the process.
We will be setting up an on-line petition.
We urge you to send letters (or e-mails) to your MP (Clare Perry here). Also, involve your local Parish, Town and/or District Councils in the process - urging them to write to the Secretary of State for Transport.
Bedwyn and Plymouth have a very active action group but until now there has been no action group for Pewsey. Members of the Bedwyn and Devizes action groups are sharing their knowledge with us and once the action plan has been formed, we can all communicate it to the wider community.