12:00PM, Sunday 13 November 2016
A member of a train passengers’ interest group has described the Department for Transport’s deferral of electrification of the Henley Branch Line as a ‘disaster heaped upon disaster’.
Philip Meadowcroft is part of the Wargrave Users Group, which has repeatedly criticised Great Western Rail for a draft timetable – which could be implemented in May next year – that would reduce train stops at Wargrave Station to once an hour between 10.30am and 3.30pm during weekdays.
It is proposed that after electrification of the Henley Branch Line, which Wargrave Station is part of, the services would resume at the same rate – which is currently one train per 45 minutes.
However, on Tuesday, the parliamentary under secretary of state for transport, Paul Maynard MP, announced the Henley Branch Line’s electrification, originally scheduled for 2019, had been deferred, without setting a new date.
Mr Maynard said in a statement: “It is a project unprecedented in scale that is building on and around ageing assets in constant use. This is an ambitious and challenging undertaking, but real progress is being made in delivering it.”
He said he believed trains with extra capacity – one of the outcomes of electrification – could still be added, but did not provide any further details.
Mr Meadowcroft said: “Connectivity at Twyford for passengers not only to Wargrave, but to Shiplake and Henley, is severely compromised by the draft timetable and will leave many more branch line passengers stranded at Twyford when incoming services could be as little as two or three minutes late.”
He urged Mark Hopwood, the managing director of GWR, to ditch the proposed timetable in response.
He continued: “It’s the culmination of disaster heaped upon disaster. It must be hoped those planning teams involved in this debacle have been disbanded as well as those officials who have dithered and fudged over admitting that the project, as conceived, simply could not be delivered.”
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