'Bigger & better' trains but a cut & worse bus service: can that be sensible?Sirs, In January 2019, Great Western Railways will be introducing new, five-car, bi-mode, Intercity Express Trains (IETs) running between Bedwyn station and London Paddington. These new trains, capable of running on both diesel and electric, will mean that GWR is able to continue to operate direct services to Bedwyn, Hungerford and Kintbury, promising more seats on 'bigger and better', brand new trains for customers.
Cllr Horace Prickett, Wiltshire Council's Passenger Transport Portfolio Holder, has commented: “This ensures that the Bedwyn to London service will continue and thus preserve the vital link to the capital which the east of the county currently enjoys.”
It is surprising therefore, that last year Wiltshire Council cut the vital bus service linking Marlborough with Bedwyn and Hungerford stations. This was despite protests by the Bedwyn Trains Passenger Group and Transition Marlborough.
This bus service is now completely useless for anyone who wants to use it to commute to and from work: the first bus to leave Marlborough High Street travelling to Bedwyn station is after 10am!
People travelling to Reading and London for work need reliable buses that leave Marlborough before 7am and return buses that leave Bedwyn station after 7pm.
Recently Cllr Prickett poured cold water over Transmission Marlborough's proposal for a feasibility study into improving access to the rail network for people living in the Marlborough area, He totally ignored local concerns about traffic congestion in Marlborough and parking problems in the once tranquil village of Great Bedwyn.
Meanwhile WC, led by Cllr Prickett, is overseeing the spending of millions of pounds on improving rail and bus networks in Corsham, Devizes, Royal Wootton Bassett and Wilton.
In some parts of the country train operators subsidise buses that link towns with the closest station. Will our councillors be able to persuade GWR to do the same for their customers here in Marlborough?
After all 'bigger and better' trains need to be connected by 'bigger and better' buses.
Dr Sam L J Page