Don Foster MP*


Speaking in the House of Commons, Bath's MP, Don Foster, has pressed the Minister, Derek Twigg MP, on the future of the local train services.

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Last year, Don received the Minister's assurance that Oldfield Park, Keynsham and Freshford Stations would all have hourly serivces with two per hour at peak times. However this was not the case in First Great Western's draft timetable for December 2006.

Don also raised local concerns about the threatened direct Bath to Waterloo services; the potential reduction in the number of carriages on peak routes and the lack of a peak time Frome to Bath service.

Don secured the Minister's assurance that he would look into these issues.

The following is an extract from House of Commons Hansard.


Westminster Hall

Tuesday 25 April 2023

First Great Western Franchise


25 Apr 2023 : Column 198WH

Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): I congratulate the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Steen) on securing what has been an excellent debate so far. I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Westbury (Dr. Murrison), particularly because of his last remarks on the crucial service to Waterloo.

If we are going to get people on to the railways and out of their cars, as the hon. Member for Totnes wants to do, we must ensure that we have a safe, reliable and affordable public transport system. At the moment, the train journey from Bath to Paddington is not only one of the most expensive in this country, but almost one of the most expensive in the world. Fortunately, there is currently an alternative—the route to Waterloo. Although it takes longer, it is significantly cheaper. For that reason, and many others, I hope that the Minister will listen carefully to what has been said about the crucial need to maintain the Bristol Temple Meads to Waterloo route when the South West Trains franchise is renewed.

We have heard from the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Alison Seabeck) about the importance of the timetable, but there are other crucial issues. Affordability is one and capacity is another. It is deeply disturbing that the current proposals will reduce the number of carriages in some of the crucial commuter trains through, for example, Freshford, Keynsham—it is wonderful to see the hon. Member for Wansdyke (Dan Norris), who represents Keynsham, here today—and Oldfield Park. The number of carriages on those trains is to be reduced at peak times, which will cause a huge problem.

It is also crucial that we have a timetable that is fit for purpose and delivers what is needed. I referred briefly in an earlier intervention to letters that I received from the Minister on 9 August and 13 September, which refer to the three stations of Freshford, Oldfield Park and Keynsham. In those letters, he assured me that there will be an hourly service at off-peak times and two trains per hour at peak time. He made it absolutely clear that these plans were his

"Department's intentions for these stations."

He went on to say:

"This is to be made clear to the bidders for the franchise."

Sadly, however, we see that that is not being delivered in any of those three stations.

There is a difficulty. Since the initial plans were produced, about 9,000 letters of complaint have been received by First Great Western. As we heard from the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport, consideration has been given to some of those concerns. In about six weeks' time, we shall hear the outcome of that process, and we understand that some of the concerns raised have now been resolved. It would be enormously helpful to my constituents if the Minister would confirm today that the problem of the reduction of services through those three stations is one of the issues that has been resolved. If not, I urge him to consider carefully concerns about the reduction in the number of carriages on peak routes, and I ask him in particular to ensure that we retain the crucial Temple Meads to Waterloo service.

10.28 am

and also…


Column 204WH


Mr. Don Foster : The hon. Gentleman referred to growing towns. The town of Frome is growing enormously and he may be surprised to know that under the proposed timetable there is no train between 7 o'clock and 9 o'clock in the morning from Frome to Bath, where most of the work is.

This article published: 28/04/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank

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