15 February 2006

Rail Timetables

15 February 2006 Rail Timetables
Two linked items from This is Plymouth today:

12:00 - 15 February 2006
The number of three-hour rail journeys between Plymouth and London could be slashed from four to one under plans unveiled by First Great Western.The new timetable, which is now out for consultation, reveals rail bosses want to have just one three-hour rail journey from December.But today the move sparked a wave of fury from rail users, business leaders and MPs who slammed the plans as 'just not good enough' and 'a kick in the teeth'.
Business leaders say other trains may only be a few minutes slower, but mean that Plymouth cannot claim to have regular three hour links to London - a crucial label as the city tries to market itself to outside investors.Transport lobbyist Neill Mitchell said: "The three-hour journey is the only thing we have. We have lost Heathrow (air links), we don't have a motorway, we have not got a high-speed rail link. The only thing we have left to hang on to is the three-hours-to-London badge."
The Greater Western franchise, which starts on April 1, will run for at least seven years, with an automatic three-year extension if performance targets are met. The current timetable will remain in place between the start of the franchise on April 1 and the start of the new timetable on December 10.
A spokesman for First Great Western said that, while the number of three hour journeys were being cut, overall journey times were speeding up.He said: "This is an opportunity for Plymouth to look at the timetable. We're not going to go into any more detail until it has been finalised."
The timetable is published at http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/franchiseand will be made available to staff and managers in the three companies. Responses should be received by First Great Western by Wednesday March 8.

John Callagher, 66, from Truro, has travelled on the Plymouth to Paddington service many times with his wife.He said: "Since road congestion is getting worse we should be getting quicker and better trains to get more people on the trains and ease the pressure on our roads."But First Great Western are doing us out of important three-hour services."And they don't provide a decent restaurant any more."

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