Claire Perry MP wants you to write to her. To help her make the case for the importance of Pewsey's rail services to the local economy she needs you to write expressing why you think our rail services are important and your fears about the negative effect on our economy should they be taken away.
You can email Claire at...
Or if you'd prefer to write you can send a letter to...
Claire Perry MP
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
While you will have your own concerns, below are some points you might also wish to draw upon. If you run a business please state why rail links are important to you and the effect reduced services could have on your business, either directly or as a result of the harm reduced services could do to the local economy.
Pewsey train station serves a wide catchment area that encompasses the likes of Marlborough, Devizes and beyond and facilitates 200,000 passenger journeys
The government has invited bids to run the next Great Western Region rail franchise. The current terms of the franchise invitation to tender, as dictated by the Train Service Requirement document (TSR), do not require that the winning bidder provide the current level of service between Pewsey and London Paddington. The latest revision of the TSR requires only two 'through' trains per day in each direction, down from the current ten. The remaining services are only required to be the equivalent of a 'shuttle' service to Newbury. This means, at best, an uncertain future for through trains from Pewsey to Paddington and leaves Pewsey's passengers at the mercy of the winning bidder. Currently there is no indication that any of the operators bidding for the franchise intends to do more than the minimum required of them in the ITT.
HOW THIS MIGHT EFFECT YOU...
Rail services provide a vital lifeline to rural communities and are fundamental to the economic well-being of Pewsey and its surrounding communities. Any 'downgrading' of services would almost certainly have a profound negative affect on the local economy far beyond the obvious inconvenience to commuters. Even for those who don't use the train this could have consequences, effecting employment prospects, the value of homes and the vibrancy of communities. Pewsey and its catchment will likely become an unattractive home destination for commuters. Businesses who's survival depends on efficient transport links may have to consider relocation. Pewsey could, effectively, become a 'backwater'.
THE FOUR FRANCHISE BIDDERS ARE…
• NXGW Trains Limited (National Express Group PLC)
• Stagecoach Great Western Trains Limited (Stagecoach Group plc)
• First Great Western Trains Limited (FirstGroup plc)
• GW Trains Limited (Arriva UK Trains Limited – DB (UK) Investments Limited)
The franchise is being let for 8 or 15 years (the term is still under debate), from 21 July 2013 to 23 July 2028 (proposed).
SOME POINTS YOU MIGHT WANT TO MAKE IN YOUR EMAIL/LETTER
While you will want to make your own points in your email to Claire and express your concern about the diminution of Pewsey's rail service in your own words, we include below points you may also wish to draw upon. The points are in no particular order and are best expressed in your own words.
• The current terms of the franchise invitation to tender, as dictated by the Train Service Requirement document (TSR), do not require that the winning bidder provide the current level of service between Pewsey and London Paddington. The latest revision of the TSR requires only two 'through' trains per day in each direction, down from the current ten. The remaining services are only required to be the equivalent of a 'shuttle' service to Newbury.
• This is much more than just a commuter issue. A worst case scenario could see Pewsey and the communities that fall within its catchment, which stretches as far as Marlborough, Devizes and beyond, suffering a profound negative economic impact.
• The loss of regular, direct trains from Pewsey to Reading and London and the resulting economic impact could see the loss of jobs, relocation of businesses, the devaluing of property and the diminution of local amenities. Many families who chose to live in the area because of efficient rail links and a tolerable commute to London might consider relocating. Now commuter families would cease to flow into the area.
• The environmental impact… The loss of regular, direct through trains from Pewsey to London and Reading would have a negative impact on the environment as commuters, driven off the train and into the car, drive to other stations that have kept a direct service to London, or for their entire journey.
• More cars on the road would have a negative impact on road safety. Car parks at other stations might over flow their capacity.
• Pewsey is a very well used station. It has seen an extremely rapid commuter growth of 63% in the period between 2002 and 2010. By contrast, Hungerford as only seen a 41% increase and Bedwyn 8%. In terms of total passenger journeys Pewsey is rapidly catching up with Hungerford at 203,000 journeys from Pewsey against 278,000 for Hungerford and is significantly busier than Bedwyn at 94,000.
• With the above point in mind… By effecting service levels to a heavily used station (500+ regular Pewsey commuters) the price/model assumptions made by franchise bidders maybe be inherently wrong if Pewsey passenger levels fall as a result of the service change. This is an important issue that links directly to the viability of the bids.
• Passenger Focus concluded in evidence submitted to the Department for Transport that passengers are deterred from travelling if they have to make a change of train. When passengers on direct services were asked about the likelihood of continuing to make their journey if they were required to make a change, 40% of the overall sample and 46% of commuters said this would be unlikely.
• Pewsey’s current service relies on making use of trains which travel between London and Exeter, Taunton and other major towns to the West. The Department of Transport has not provided any convincing evidence why replacing these with an additional shuttle service between Pewsey and Newbury would deliver value for money for the taxpayer in either the short or long run. Furthermore, requiring passengers who currently enjoy regular, direct services to London and other cities to change trains at Newbury would lead to significant declines in their passenger experience.
SOME QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT LIKE CLAIRE PERRY TO ASK SIMON BURNS
Many of you will have your own questions that you wish Claire Perry to ask Simon Burns. Below are suggestions for questions you might also want to consider. These questions are best expressed in your own words.
• The Secretary of State’s objectives for the Great Western franchise, as set out in the ITT published on 27 July 2012, included “providing appropriate capacity for passenger services which delivers value for money for the taxpayer” and “ensuring the overall passenger experience improves throughout the life of the franchise”. How does the Rail Minister square these aims with a much reduced service for Pewsey?
• Where and when was the public consultation process held? Is there a legal requirement for the 'visibility' of the process and the efforts that must be made to make the public aware of the process? The public consultation related to changes to services to and from Pewsey seems to have been all but invisible.
• In light of the recent government review of the franchise bidding process and the resultant freezing of the tender process, what is the new date for the submission of bids to run the next Great Western Region franchise?
• Have any studies been undertaken to asses the economic impact of reduced services from Pewsey?
• What is the MfT, DfT and TOC’s predictions for future increase in passengers using Pewsey station, over the term of the 8/15year franchise, comparing direct services to Paddington versus indirect services to Paddington?
• Has the Department for Transport done any analysis of the likely impact on passenger numbers from Pewsey if passengers were required to change trains at Newbury?
• What is the Department for Transport and Train Operating Companies revenue predictions over the 8/15year franchise when comparing direct and indirect services to Paddington?
• What are the fare projections over the 8/15year franchise?
• What is the Minister For Transport's strategy for the Berks and Herts line over the next 8/15years and it’s impact on the local economy?
Please let us know if you send an email or write a letter. If possible please include your correspondence.