Proposals for improved Lostwithiel Rail Service
Wednesday 16th July 2014
The way forward for the Great Western rail franchise.
Lostwithiel Town Council and Lostwithiel Transport Users Group, have sent the Government their recommendations concerning the franchise to run rail services in the South West. The Department of Transport launched a public consultation on what services should be required in any bid for the renewal of the franchise currently held by First Great Western. The consultation closes on 26th June and a bid document will be issued asking interested companies to bid to provide rail services for five years from September 2015.
The submissions argued strongly for an improvement in rail services in Cornwall, including more mid-morning and evening trains and an increase in the number of London inter-city trains that stop at Lostwithiel. The town currently has a service based on rush-hour usage that does not help shoppers and leisure travellers. John Scott of the Lostwithiel Transport Users Group, a part of the Lostwithiel Town Forum, said ‘We urgently need more stopping trains at Lostwithiel. The town has few buses and people need to be able to get to Plymouth, St Austell, and Truro for shopping and for evening entertainment.’
The government was also urged to bring forward the re-signalling of the line to Penzance to allow a more frequent stopping service to be run, and the Government announcement that this work will soon begin was welcomed. However, the submissions pointed to the need to improve the current rolling stock. Councillor Tim Hughes said ‘The carriages presently used are inadequate and out-of-date. They are overcrowded and do not have enough luggage space, especially when filled with travellers changing from the London trains that terminate at Plymouth. When more trains are to run the rolling stock must be improved.’
Both submissions urged the retention and improvement of the London-Penzance sleeper service, which currently has limited stops in Cornwall. John Scott said ‘The sleeper is an essential link for those of us in the South West. The service must be improved with a Lostwithiel stop on the London service. A Lostwithiel resident can travel to London on the sleeper only by getting a taxi to Bodmin or Par. Extra stops would make no difference to the running time of the overnight train.’
It was also pointed out that evidence on usage from ticket sales is inadequate, especially when suitable trains are not provided. Lostwithiel has no ticket office or ticket machine at which travellers can buy tickets. John Scott said ‘It is hardly surprising that there is no evidence for usage of mid-morning or evening trains: Lostwithiel residents cannot get on these trains so cannot even buy a ticket from the Train Manager.’
Other points urged in the two submissions were:
• Improved access to trains for the disabled and wheel chair users.
• The need for a footbridge at Lostwithiel because of the frequent closure of the crossing gates.
• Better catering and cleaning on inter-city trains.
• Support for a plan to open the line to Fowey for passenger use.
• Coordination of rail and bus timetables
More information about Lostwithiel Transport Users Group available here