Lack of passengers brings cut to service

9:00am Friday 4th September 2009

By Jack Blanchard

RAIL services between Worcester, Cheltenham and Gloucester are to be cut by a third after one of the line’s two train operators withdrew its services.

London Midland has revealed it will stop operating along the Worcester to Gloucester line from mid-December. It says that a lack of passengers means that the service is running at a loss.

First Great Western will continue to operate services, but London Mid-land’s withdrawal means that on current time-tabling there would only be one train about every two hours.

Responding to an inquiry from your Worcester News, a spokesman for London Midland said: “From the introduction of our time-table on Sunday, December 13, London Midland will be withdrawing its daytime services running between Gloucester and Worcester Shrub Hill.”

There are currently 13 trains each day running from Worcester to Gloucester, through Ashchurch-for-Tewksbury and Cheltenham – and 14 back.

London Midland’s withdrawal means that from December, there will only be nine in each direction.

The Worcester to Gloucester services have never been part of the operator’s core contract and the firm said it introduced them last year to fill the gaps between First Great Western trains and to ensure that passengers had a regular service. The hope was that this would encourage more people to use the service.

London Midland said in a statement that its policy has not proved successful because each 120-seat train is only used by an average of just 16 passengers.

The spokesman said: “The withdrawn services are not funded by the Department for Transport or other funders and they were not included in the London Midland franchise.

“We introduced them in last year’s service in the belief that providing a standard pattern of service throughout the day between London Midland and First Great Western services would encourage passenger growth.

“But after a year in operation these services are still operating with very low numbers of passengers and as such are making a loss.

“We regret having to withdraw these services and would be happy to reinstate them if long-term funding can be found.”

The nine services to be withdrawn in December will be the 9.56am, 12.15pm, 2.16pm and 4.16pm from Worcester, and the 11.13am, 1.16pm, 3.13pm, 5.10pm and 7.10pm from Gloucester.

A spokesperson for First Great Western said it has no plans to reduce its services along the line.

She said: “This is the first we’ve heard of this but it’s not a well-used line.”

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