Local Conservative politicians joined Rail Minister Paul Maynard on his visit to Wiltshire to check on the ongoing success of the TransWilts line and improvements to the stations at Swindon and Chippenham.
The TransWilts, which launched in 2013, is one of the fastest growing lines in the country and was formally designated as a community rail service by Mr Maynard last September.
The Minister travelled on a special GWR service from Swindon to Salisbury, stopping off at the site of the proposed new Wilton Parkway station on the way, yesterday (Thursday 2/3/17).
He also checked on the Access for All projects at Swindon and Chippenham stations, which aim to improve accessibility and the experience of passengers, and visited Knorr-Bremse’s facility in Melksham to discuss the company’s innovative braking systems and meet apprentices and other staff.
Mr Maynard was joined by North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson, Chippenham MP Michelle Donelan and Cllr Horace Prickett, the portfolio holder for transport on Wiltshire Council, as well as volunteers and representatives from the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership (TWCRP) and GWR.
Ms Donelan said: “I was pleased to invite the Rail Minister to both Chippenham and Melksham to discuss the important rail improvements that I would like to see locally.
“I was again able to press the case for re-opening Corsham station and the need to improve Chippenham’s aging infrastructure. At Knorr-Bremse we discussed the skills shortage in the rail industry that impacts on local businesses as well as their exciting plans to expand. All in all it was a very busy but productive day.”
Cllr Prickett said: “This visit was a great success and showed Paul Maynard just what had been achieved with TransWilts since the initial work in 2005.
“Wiltshire Council members have worked very hard to bring the semi-derelict line back into profitable service and now look forward to completing the work with a true cross-Wiltshire service connecting Swindon to Salisbury with onward trains to Southampton Airport.
“Providing international connections via the airport is vital to Wiltshire’s economic vitality and expansion.”
Mr Maynard said: “It was a pleasure to ride on this special TransWilts train today and see first-hand all the hard work which is going in to make this Community Rail Partnership successful.
“These railways are good for communities, increasing revenue, reducing costs, increasing community involvement and supporting social and economic development.
“Across the country there are about 3,200 rail volunteers who work 250,000 hours per year helping to improve stations and reduce vandalism.”