Theresa May has called for the needs of local commuters to be placed at the heart of a new franchise agreement for the Great Western rail line, due to commence next year. The new franchise will be awarded by the Department for Transport and will determine who is responsible for services on the line for the next fifteen years. Theresa has responded to an official consultation and said that fast services from Maidenhead and Twyford to London Paddington should be a priority, and that greater capacity is needed to cope with the increasing number of people using the trains.
The current franchise is held by First Great Western and will end in 2013, at which point a new contract will commence between the Department for Transport (DfT) and the new franchisee. Ahead of the official ‘invitation to tender’ being issued, DfT have consulted on what should be included in the new franchise. In her response, Theresa highlighted the importance of fast and semi-fast services from Maidenhead and Twyford and stated that these must remain the priority, even with the development of Crossrail.
Theresa also supported the prospect of middle-distance fast services beginning at Oxford or Newbury, which would mean less-busy trains serving Maidenhead and Twyford. In addition, she noted the significance of the branch lines serving Furze Platt, Cookham and Wargrave and said that maintaining direct services from these stations to Paddington would be important.
Commenting, Theresa said: “The beginning of a new rail franchise next year is a chance to ensure that further improvements to services are a guaranteed part of the deal. It is vital that capacity continues to increase to cope with the heavy demand, particularly during morning and evening peak times. Fast and semi-fast services from Maidenhead and Twyford must be the priority and I want to ensure that the new franchise agreement has these services at the centre.”