10/10/2011

Train To Take Strain In South West

Passengers in the South West will see a greater community involvement with the designation of the Heart of Wessex Line between Bristol and Weymouth as a community rail service, Rail Minister Theresa Villiers announced today.

Designation allows train companies to work more closely with community rail partnerships to better design services to meet local need.

Theresa Villiers said: "I am delighted to be able to make this announcement on the day of First Great Western's Community Rail Conference which will consider ways to develop the concept of Community Rail in the South West of England.

"Designation means that local communities can become even more involved in how these services run and encourage train companies to provide the services local people want."

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of First Great Western, which runs services on the route, said: "First Great Western really values the excellent work that is done by the Community Rail Partnerships in our region, helping to boost passenger numbers to record breaking levels and increasing the value of our local lines to the communities that they serve.

"We very much welcome the designation of the Heart of Wessex line services, and the benefits that will bring, further assisting the Partnership in the valuable work that they do," he said.

Eric Egar, Chair of the Heart of Wessex Community Rail Partnership said: "The Bristol to Weymouth 'Heart of Wessex' line is a vital regional route connecting major employment, retail and leisure destinations in Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Bath and Bristol.

"Designation is an endorsement of the substantial benefits we have already achieved as a partnership of local authorities working with community and volunteer groups to enhance and promote this route, its destinations and local economies, and an opportunity to take this work to the next level."

(BMcC/GK)

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