RAIL campaigners have urged transport chiefs to maintain improvements on the Cotswold Line in recent months.
The 40th AGM of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group heard there had been welcome signs of improvements in the reliability and punctuality of services on the route between Oxford, Worcester and Hereford, after several months of cancellations and delays to trains.
Group chairman John Ellis told more than 90 CLPG members attending the meeting in Moreton-in-Marsh this came after a ‘serious deterioration in train performanc’ since the autumn of 2017.
Mr Ellis said: “We have been making vigorous and repeated representations to GWR about issues on the Cotswold Line that appear to have been overlooked by the operating team at GWR headquarters.
“It is pleasing recent weeks have seen a considerable improvement in reliability of services, with more InterCity Express Trains in service and more drivers trained.
“Hopefully this will be sustained and there will be further improvements as we move towards the full IET timetable in January 2019.”
Mark Hopwood, the managing director of Great Western Railway, who was one of the guest speakers at the event, said: “We recognise the concerns of the CLPG and our customers on the line about the punctuality and reliability issues – they need to be addressed and fixed and they will be.”
Mr Hopwood pointed to the recent establishment of a drivers’ depot at Worcester as a signal of how seriously GWR took services on the Cotswold Line and its determination to continue to improve them.
Brenda Lawrence of West Midlands Trains, outlined the new franchise’s plans for major investment in its services, including delivery of new diesel trains from 2020 for Birmingham-Worcester-Hereford services.
Ideas under consideration include provision of improved infrastructure to allow operation of two trains per hour in both directions and shorter journey times, and the possibility of extra shuttle services at the Oxfordshire end of the line to help combat road congestion around Oxford.
Some services that currently only run between London and Worcester could be extended to Kidderminster or Bromsgrove. An initial report on the task force’s work is expected to be published in the autumn.
GWR made a special presentation at the meeting to celebrate the CLPG’s 40th anniversary this year.
In 2003, High Speed Train (HST) power car No 43127 was named Sir Peter Parker 1924-2002 Cotswold Line 150 in memory of former British Rail chairman Sir Peter Parker, who used Charlbury station for many years, and to mark that year’s 150th anniversary of the opening of the Cotswold Line.
The power car has recently been withdrawn from service by GWR and the nameplates were removed before 43127 begins a new life north of the border with ScotRail.
One of the nameplates will go on display at the National Railway Museum at York but GWR had the second one mounted and Mark Hopwood presented it to the CLPG at the meeting.