Minister of State for Transport Baroness Susan Kramer attended the official launch of the TransWilts service today, praising the work of everyone who helped get the service up and running.
Baroness Kramer was joined by Chippenham MP Duncan Hames, Wiltshire councillors Richard Gamble and John Thomson, plus members from the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership on the 11.47am train from Westbury to Chippenham.
The first train of the improved rail service between Westbury and Swindon, which includes extra trains running through Trowbridge, Melksham and Chippenham, set off in December last year.
First Great Western’s draft timetable now has an additional six trains a day in each direction from Monday to Saturday – meaning there will be one train approximately every two hours, including early morning and evening services in both directions.
Baroness Kramer said: “Duncan Hames said I had to come and see this project as it’s exemplary of a community coming together at every level.
“The investment going into the railways is absolutely crucial for the economic future that we want and the benefits come from many directions.
“We are celebrating the work of many people and organisations and I would like to thank Wiltshire Council, First Great Western, Duncan Hames and the community rail partnership.
“As well as providing a new off peak and weekend service, the TransWilts service will make the county more of a part of the wider rail network.”
As part of the service, there will be an additional four trains on Sundays throughout the year, with at least one seasonal service connecting with the existing Westbury to Weymouth service in each direction.
Graham Ellis, from the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership, said: “It’s going better than we could have hoped and everybody I speak to is very positive about it.
“The service is a huge benefit for Wiltshire people, who are now able to job hunt in Swindon, when previously there were jobs they couldn’t apply for because they couldn’t get to them.”
The subsidised TransWilts Service forms part of Wiltshire Council’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund project.
Funding for the project came after the council successfully bid for a Department for Transport grant of £4.25m, which will support the improved service for three years.
Mr Hames said: “One thing all of us should recognise is that no one could have done this on their own, no single organisation. We have had to work together to make this happen.”