MP Spells Out Demands For Rail Franchise

Penzance Railway Station

Our Islands’ MP says any future operator of the Great Western Rail franchise should retain, and even enhance, the sleeper service from Penzance.

Andrew George has written to the Department of Transport with a list of items for inclusion in the franchise contract.

He says there’s a “disproportionate focus” on shaving 15 to 20 minutes off the service time between Paddington and Plymouth, adding reliability, comfort and competitive pricing is much more important to customers.

Andrew says trains are often overcrowded and disabled facilities are poor. He wants to see investment in new rolling stock on the route.

The contract should include a commitment to maintaining through services to Penzance, says Andrew, and he wants the “yawning gap” in services from Penzance between 10am and 2pm to be addressed.

During the previous tendering process, the MP fought hard to maintain the sleeper service.

Andrew says this is still important, especially with little prospect of high-speed trains on the route in the future. He wants to see the service extended to include Saturdays, as this is often a change-over day for visitors to Scilly. He’s also keen for the sleeper carriages to get a refit.

First Group, who run the current service, announced last year that it was taking advantage of a ‘break clause’ to bow out of the franchise three years early, from 2013.

The Government has recently signalled that it wants a 15-year franchise contract rather than a short-term one and Mr George says he supports this view.