Call for rail service improvements
PUBLISHED: 16:00 19 December 2011
New larger coaches, a better Sunday service, and trains between Exmouth and Exeter every 15 minutes are on a wish list to transport ministers from a passenger group.
Rail users on the Exeter to Exmouth line, the busiest in the region, have told transport ministers what they want to see from the line’s next franchise holder.
The current franchise, held by First Great Western, ends in 2013 - and the process of deciding which train operator will run services from then on has begun.
The Department for Transport is expected to reveal more detail later this month in a draft ‘Invitation to Tender.’
High on the list of improvements which passengers want to see are trains with four coaches, preferably new, and stations to serve the new development at Newcourt and Hill Barton in Exeter.
These would be part of a Devon Metro rail scheme serving all Exeter commuters, which would eventually see a train every 15 minutes between the city and Exmouth.
The Avocet Line Rail Users Group (ALRUG) represents hundreds of passengers and wants to see improvements to existing stations, especially Exmouth and Digby and Sowton, more staff, ticket machines and further improvements to customer information.
The group adds that a regular main line service should connect better with Exmouth trains.
Chairman Tony Day said “The numbers using our trains is still increasing year on year. The next operator must be given a franchise which encourages them to invest in a growing railway – and Government must make it easier to work with Network Rail to get things done. The very first thing we want is services on Sunday that are as good as those during the week.
“We are meeting local MPs Ben Bradshaw and Hugo Swire to let them know our views and will be telling potential rail operators what we would like to see.
Once the Government has published the draft specification for new services there will be a consultation period. ALRUG will be arranging an open meeting, provisionally set for on February 13, to give local people a chance to comment on the plans.