The DfT has approved a bid for the TransWilts line to be the twentieth formally recognised community rail service in the country.
This means that the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership, which includes local councils, train operators and community groups, will work with Great Western Railway to design services according to local needs.
Mark Hopwood, Great Western’s managing director, said: “I am delighted that the TransWilts route between Westbury and Swindon is being recognised in this way.
“Community rail provides some of our fastest growing and most reliable services, and customer growth in TransWilts services has been exceptional.”
TransWilts is a 32-mile route between Swindon and Westbury, including Chippenham and Melksham stations.
Six services were launched on the line on December 2013. The line reached its five-year target for passenger growth in just two years and introduced two further services in May 2016.
The government also announced today that the new services will be incorporated into the Great Western franchise.
Paul Johnson, chair of TransWilts, said an “early priority” would now be improving connectivity with local bus services.
“The designation is important because it formalises the status of TransWilts and gives us access to some additional support, including funding,” he added.
Paul Maynard, the rail minister, said the TransWilts line is vital to local communities in Wiltshire and it is right that passengers will now have a greater say in the shape of its future.
“Designating the line as a community rail service will breathe new life into this route and ensure its long-term future,” he added.