ONE of the borough’s four MPs has called for action to improve rail services for her constituents.
Theresa May, who represents parts of Sonning, Twyford, Wargrave and Charvil, was taking part in a House of Commons debate into the nation’s railways. Held last week, the veteran MP and former Prime Minister called on the Government to “ensure that the Great Western franchise continues to provide fast services for Maidenhead and Twyford on the mainline, and not just the principle of fast services; there has to be a sufficient number of services at the right times, with enough seats so that people can actually get on the train.
“We want services to be restored at least, and enhanced at best.”
She continued: “Some of my constituents have already started to drive to London instead of using the trains, because of the reduced service. How does that help our 2050 climate change target? We want more people to use the trains, but we will not achieve that if we reduce the services.
“Train services to Maidenhead and Twyford and the linking branch lines matter to my constituents, our environment and our economy.
“I urge everybody involved—Great Western, Network Rail and the Department for Transport—to do everything to ensure that my constituents continue to have the train services that they need. We must continue to see people using those trains, to bring people from Maidenhead and Twyford to businesses in London, and from London to work in businesses in Maidenhead and Twyford, to continue to maintain our thriving economy.”
Responding, the minister for transport, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “We are investing over £5 billion in the Great Western route, including £2.8 billion on electrification to deliver better services, new trains and thousands more seats. That programme has provided 4,900 extra seats into London in the peak, and a 40% increase into Paddington in the morning peak.”
He added that Great Western Railway had improved its punctuality over the past year, reaching an average of 89.4% compared to 83.1% the previous year, and also pointed out that Maidenhead station is being improved.
“We are making improvements to the Maidenhead to Marlow branch line. GWR is undertaking a study, with local enterprise partnership support, of options for rail infrastructure at Bourne End. A key aim is to enable a half-hourly through service between Marlow and Maidenhead,” he added.
Mr Heaton-Harris said that the current timetables were “developed with Crossrail in mind. With the delay to the tunnel, it has been necessary to accommodate the services in an increasingly busy Paddington station, which has caused some issues”.
Mrs May responded by sharing concerns that “it sounds as if the industry—I hope the Department is not thinking this—is pushing my constituents towards Crossrail services, and Crossrail services alone. I want to ensure that they have a choice and that there are still fast services. I also want semi-fast services on Crossrail.”
Mr Heaton-Harris said that Crossrail was “significantly increase rail capacity in London and probably increase demand from Maidenhead too”.
He added: “I will happily go back to my Department and contact Network Rail about GWR’s application for the reinstatement of fast trains, which I did not know about. As always, my right hon. Friend represents her constituents with passion and vigour, and I promise not to drop this ball on her behalf.”
Speaking to The Wokingham Paper, Cllr John Halsall, who respresents Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe ward for Wokingham Borough Council, said he was sad that Mark Hopwood, the managing director of GWR, had moved on.
“I’m looking forward to meeting his successor,” he said.
“The Reading to Paddington route is the lifeblood to Remenham, Ruscombe and Tywford. It is important that it works.”