Cross Country Trains must ensure that there are no reductions to its services from Severn Tunnel Junction and Caldicot as a result of upcoming timetable changes.
In their most recent ‘In Focus’ magazine, a spokesperson for Cross Country Trains highlights potential changes to timetables for inter-city trains, with the aim of providing faster journey times ‘to and from Bristol to the Midlands and the South West’. Local rail campaigners, including representatives from the Severn Tunnel Action Group, have expressed concerns that the proposed changes would directly or indirectly affect service provision from Severn Tunnel Junction or Caldicot.
In a letter to Cross Country’s Managing Director Andy Cooper, I’ve asked for a formal assurance that there will be no reduction in Cross Country services from Caldicot and Severn Tunnel Junction.
Cross Country services from Severn Tunnel and Caldicot – including both cross-border services and westbound routes to Newport and Cardiff – are essential and well-used, especially at peak times, and any reduction in the level of services would be detrimental to the ever-growing communities the stations serve. As I have frequently highlighted in Parliament, the railway network in this part of south-east Wales has been plagued by chronic overcrowding and unreliable services which have not adapted to growing demand. Over the past 20 years, Caldicot has seen an 111% increase in passenger numbers, and Severn Tunnel Junction has experienced a staggering 297% increase in station entries and exits. The Cardiff to Cheltenham line, which includes Caldicot and Severn Tunnel, has also seen one of the highest levels of user growth of any line emanating from Cardiff.
Reducing the number of services from Severn Tunnel Junction and Caldicot would be both illogical and unacceptable, and I hope Cross Country can provide specific details on any timetable changes as soon as possible.