The Group’s application to the DfT’s Ideas Fund for reinstatement of the station footbridge was unsuccessful, but useful pointers were offered for making future submissions and the campaign continues.
After that disappointment, the Group was delighted to find that the latest ORR Station Usage statistics showed yet another significant increase in usage (55%) for the period April 2019 – March 2020 – making a staggering 1,440% increase since the footbridge was demolished in November 2016. The Group therefore put a well-argued case to GWR, asking them to recognise this increase in interest and demand by providing one extra train on Saturday lunchtimes. However, GWR refused this very modest request, giving no reasons but merely observing that the present service of two trains a week (Saturdays only) met DfT requirements and they had no plans to increase it. This disappointingly negative response is markedly at variance with Transport Minister Grant Shapps’ recent comments that rail timetabling needs to become more flexible and demand-responsive. Clearly he needs to get that point across more forcefully to operators like GWR, and to stress that hiding behind DfT minimum service requirements in this way is not acceptable.