Cotswold Line comes to the fore in debate - The Evesham Observer

Cotswold Line comes to the fore in debate

Evesham Editorial 9th Apr, 2018   0

THE GOVERNMENT has been urged to consider future upgrades of the Cotswold Line and the possible redoubling of the link in a Parliamentary debate attended by Evesham and Pershore’s MPs.

The debate had been called by Robert Courts MP whose Witney constituency is also served by the Cotswold Line and saw Evesham MP Nigel Huddleston contribute while Pershore’s MP Harriett Baldwin was also in attendance.

Mr Huddleston emphasised the significance of the Cotswold Line to Worcestershire’s economy and pointed out, despite often being cited as one of the most desirable places to live, the region is somewhat let down by relatively poor transport infrastructure.

He highlighted the work of local organisations such as the Vale Public Transport Group which has already led to some recent improvements to the local transport infrastructure.

During the debate, Mr Huddleston asked about alternative sources of funding for expanding parking capacity that local stations urgently require, as well as what more the Government could to do hold franchisees to account when the services they provide fall short.

He highlighted the significant deterioration in the service provided by Great Western Railway local residents have suffered from in recent months and stated, while GWR has acknowledged its service has fallen short, its issues are not being addressed fast enough.

The Government is currently considering the responses to its consultation on the future of the Great Western Railway franchise and Mr Huddleston urged the Government to strongly consider creating a stand-alone franchise for the North Cotswold Line.

After leaving the debate, the Mid-Worcestershire MP said: “Local transport infrastructure is an incredibly significant issue for Worcestershire and a lot of the correspondence I receive contains complaints about the local train service or calls for further improvements to be made.

I was pleased to hear recognition of the need for a more reliable railway service and was reassured the prospect of splitting the franchise in the future has not been ruled out.

“Moving forward it is important that we work as partners with GWR to improve the service for residents and I will continue pressing both GWR and the Government to implement the upgrades to the Cotswold Line that my constituents deserve.”

Speaking after the debate, Mrs Baldwin said: “The reputation of Great Western Railways seems to be at an all-time low and customers write to me and other MPs along the Cotswold Line regularly complaining about the poor service from the current franchise holder.

“By repeatedly extending the franchise without competitive tension, we are ending up with all the worst characteristics of public ownership, combined with all the worst characteristics of the franchise system. Things must change.”

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