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Pledge to keep up pressure for Frome train services following rail setback

THERE is disappointment for Frome rail commuters following a Government report which has decided there is  ‘no business case’ to extend electrification of the line to the area. 

Electrification offers faster journey times and 20% more seats compared to diesel trains. Electrification of the line from London Paddington to Newbury is taking place, but campaigners had hoped that it could be extended to Westbury and, under more ambitious plans, Frome itself.

But now the Department of Transport’s consultants, ARUP, say there is ‘no business case’ to extend electrification, leaving the option looking highly unlikely.

Frome Town Council, Frome Chamber of Commerce, and local businesses had joined with campaigners from Wiltshire to push for electrification. While electrification would have encouraged the continuation of high speed services, attention will now turn to ensuring that the level of service is still maintained once the current franchise comes to an end in 2016.

Peter Macfadyen, chair of the town council’s external affairs committee said, “The outcome [of ARUP’S report] is disappointing.  However, our understanding is that the current direct diesel services to London would continue at least until 2016, when the existing rail franchise comes to an end.

“The main campaigning issue will be what is in the tender for direct services to London in the new franchise from 2016. We obviously want to ensure that people can still travel to London without changing trains. The town council will be working with partners in Somerset and Wiltshire to ensure that this issue is firmly on the Department for Transport’s agenda.”