We fed our views into the Great Western Consultation Response. Please see Great Western Consultation Response Jan 2018 on our Published Documents page.
At last we have excellent news for rail users. After work by many parties (including ourselves, GWR and the MPs Claire Perry and Richard Benyon) it has been agreed that our trains will be replaced with bi-modes. These will run on electricity between Paddington and Newbury then continue, seamlessly, using diesel to Bedwyn.
The one thing left to be resolved is the siding, alongside Church Field, will need to be extended to take the new, longer trains. This will mean the crossing / footpath will be re-routed. NR and GWR have been in touch with the Great Bedwyn Parish Council regarding these proposals.
The trains will be brand new and have greater capacity than our current service. Therefore we have gone from the prospect of a serious downgrade to what amounts to an improvement.
The new service will start from January 2019.
As the electrification of the Paddington to Bristol line is over budget and behind schedule the May 2017 date, for losing our direct services to Paddington, will now not happen. There is no revised date. This gives us breathing space to continue to push for the bi-mode or battery train option. Battery trains will charge under the wires between Paddington and Newbury then run on to Bedwyn on battery power.
Network Rail has produced a Western Route Study (October 2014) which states:
Following electrification to Newbury, the 2019 Industry Train Service Specification (ITSS) assumes that the current London Paddington – Bedwyn service will operate with electric rolling stock and therefore be truncated at Newbury. A diesel shuttle service is proposed between Newbury and Bedwyn. These services will operate all day.
The DfT have recently produced a document describing proposals for the next franchise of the Great Western Region – this is the five year period from September 2015. The document can be read on the following link: DfT Post 2015 Franchise Searching for the word ‘Bedwyn’ can speed up your reading time.
The passenger group has responded with the Great Western Specification Response June 2014 on our Published Documents page. To save you a ‘big read’ the summary of the situation is:
1) At present there is no money to wire further than Newbury, even though the economic case for electrifying to Bedwyn has been established.
2) Therefore the consultation document assumes diesel beyond Newbury.
3) Our response outlines the ways of ensuring that we retain direct Paddington via diesel services.
When it was announced that electrification would only come as far as Newbury we wrote to both Claire Perry (MP that covers Bedwyn) and Richard Benyon (MP that covers Hungerford and Kintbury) asking them to investigate how this affects our stations. They both received the same reply from the Minister Transport, Theresa Villiers – after the year 2016 the diesel Turbo trains will not be allowed to run between Reading and Paddington. This means that Kintbury, Hungerford and Bedwyn would be on a diesel Turbo shuttle service to Newbury or Reading.
We responded to the DfT Franchise Consultation with the 'Great Western Specification Consultation Response June 2014' on our Published Documents page.
We then met with the DfT and thought we had managed to move the conversation on. This including door to door leafleting, meetings with franchise bidders, MPs and councils, email and letter lobbying, press, TV and radio interviews. The DfT were then saying that bidders for the forthcoming Great Western Franchise need to make robust proposals of how Kintbury, Hungerford and Bedwyn will be served post electrification.
The DfT were proposing that through services to Exeter would be in two categories – (i) A fast service between Paddington and Exeter (first stops Reading and Taunton) using the existing HST trains and (ii) A semi-fast service, using new IEP trains (these are bi-mode trains that can run under the wire to Newbury and then diesel thereafter), between Paddington and Exeter (stopping at additional stations such as Newbury, Pewsey and Westbury). Further details of this proposal, along with a complete review of how we see the future of services on the Berks & Hants line, appeared in our keynote document 'Review of the Berks and Hants November 2011' which can be found on our Published Documents page.
In the run up to the 2012 franchise we met with three of the bidders. They were all sympathetic to our cause and, at the time, the DfT were making the right noises that they wished to see an equitable result for Bedwyn, Hungerford and Kintbury. We were then surprised, to say the least, when the DfT published the Invitation to Tender (ITT). This is the final document that Arriva, Stagecoach, National Express and the First Group were to bid on for the Great Western franchise. In it the DfT:
Separated the Paddington to Bedwyn service levels into Paddington to Newbury and Newbury to Bedwyn. In short this will allow the train operating company to run a diesel shuttle service from Bedwyn to Newbury with no direct services to Paddington.
Not mentioned the Paddington/Exeter semi-fast services that, if all else failed, we hoped would give us our Paddington service with a diesel shuttle to Newbury filling in any gaps.
Listed the trains per day per station by departures. Because trains terminate at Bedwyn, whereas they depart both ways at Kintbury and Hungerford, it lists Kintbury as 40, Hungerford as 47 and Bedwyn as 26 trains per day. Should the train operating company choose to run a service as Newbury to Westbury we could end up with a two hourly service for large parts of the day (i.e. 13 train departures east and 13 train departures west) whereas Kintbury and Hungerford would be entitled to an hourly service in each direction. It may sound a bit strange that Bedwyn would be left out but if timetabling a Newbury to Westbury service was tight the train operating company would be entitled to skip nearly half of the calls to Bedwyn to make a timetable work.
Given 94% of passengers travel beyond Newbury this is not good news for our station. A diesel shuttle would be unattractive and, given the configuration at Newbury, would have to use a different platform to any train it was connecting with (i.e. a long walk over the stairs for all those travelling beyond Newbury or returning to Kintbury, Hungerford or Bedwyn).
You can read our full response in 'Response to Great Western Franchise Invitation to Tender August 2012 ' on our Published Documents page.
At this point the passenger group was in high demand, supplying information to the MPs, numerous local councils and newly formed passenger groups to represent Hungerford, Pewsey and Westbury.
Claire Perry, and Richard Benyon (MP that covers Kintbury and Hungerford) met with the minister, Simon Burns and a review was undertaken as to whether electrification can be brought further west. Along with Pewsey Train Watch, Westbury Train Watch (representing their stations which have also become under threat) and Transition Marlborough we gathered empirical data to feed into this study.
This review reported in May 2013 and concluded that electrification should be brought to Bedwyn and Pewsey and Westbury will keep their current HST services. We now face a funding gap of Newbury scheduled for electrification in 2016 and Bedwyn not until 2019. Claire Perry and Richard Benyon (and their staff) are working hard to resolve this. In the meantime, should there be a gap, we will press for it to be filled with an hourly semi-fast service between Paddington and Westbury, Taunton or Exeter, using the HST stock freed up from the Paddington to Bristol line.
The following are further background arguments against the affects of electrification:
Bedwyn has 22/23 weekday calls in each direction at present giving an hourly service for most of the day, with roughly two trains an hour during the peaks. Therefore, any specification which significantly reduces calls or frequency will simply not be acceptable for station users. Of these calls, 12 trains in each direction (just over 50%) run through to and from Paddington. Again any significant reduction would be unacceptable. If implemented this would inevitably lead to large numbers of passengers driving to stations such as Newbury or Andover (this has previously happened).
At present Bedwyn has four trains a day to the west which would be lost under the proposals as they currently stand. Experience shows that going east to connect with a westbound train (e.g. at Newbury) has poor connection times where the timetable is geared to connect to an eastbound train to Paddington.
Bedwyn acts as a railhead for Marlborough and a wide surrounding area.
Passengers have deliberately moved into the area for the direct Paddington service. Any change may force passengers into costly house moves and would likely cause a general reduction of local house prices.