More CrossCountry Trains to stop at Gloucester
We need more trains on the Birmingham-Bristol InterCity service run by Cross Country, which was foolishly allowed under Labour to reduce their services to Gloucester to 3 out of 63 trains a day on this route.
I submitted a formal letter to a Department of Transport ‘stakeholder’ consultation, with support from our Glos Local Enterprise Partnership (or LEP – the voice of business) and both City and County Councils. I also met twice with the then-Rail Minister Claire Perry so that she was absolutely clear about the Gloucester case.
What happens next? DfT meets with Cross Country to determine the changes and conditions under which the DfT extends their franchise for 3 years – critical for our chance of more trains on the Birmingham-Bristol service.
My six key points were:
- There is almost no practical service for Gloucester commuters to either Birmingham or Bristol – only 3 out of 63 trains on the ‘InterCity’ CrossCountry service stop at our City, making the service a complete misnomer. I am simply asking for the 2006 decision to be reversed
- Gloucester ranks 55 out of 64 cities in Britain (64 = highest) for the highest ratio of public to private sector jobs. Since 2010, several public services have been consolidated into regional hubs and Bristol has been the main beneficiary of relocation from Gloucester. Regionalised public sector workers deserve good services from Gloucester to retain their jobs
- Housing demand for Gloucester continues to be strong. 8,475 further homes are envisaged over the next 15 years, and house prices are nearly half of those in Birmingham or Bristol. Gloucester schools are also rated highly, and the combination of good value housing and good schooling will continue to attract more residents. It is vital that they have access to the greater variety of jobs in both Bristol and Birmingham by public transport, rather than clogging up the M5
- Rail demand in general was actually up a third higher than the national average in Gloucester in 2012-13. Nearly 500,000 more passengers used Gloucester Station in 2015 than in 2005 – so there is clear demand for for more services
- Great Western Railways have invested in their 7 year franchise extension in Gloucester, with a new car park, a new entrance and double the number of services to London from next year. DfT investment can benefit from more CrossCountry services taking advantage of the better station facilities coming soon
- If our Regeneration plans in Gloucester are to succeed, then transport infrastructure needs to keep up. Centre for Cities research has shown the importance of transport links to relocation. More trains will have a positive impact on the success of city centre regeneration plans e.g. at Blackfriars
“Having a comprehensive train service fitting for a city of Gloucester’s scale and importance, as the county capital, is vital to support that ongoing [economic] growth.” – Councillor Paul James, Leader of the Gloucester City Council
“The slashing of CrossCountry services to Gloucester by the Labour government is a long-standing grievance in Gloucester, which is not helpful with efforts to grow jobs and businesses in the city.” – Councillor Mark Hawthorne, Leader of the Gloucestershire County Council
“Further to Richard Graham MP’s letter to you [Claire Perry MP] on the importance of additional stops at Gloucester, on behalf of GFirst LEP we agree with every point he makes.” – David Owen, Chief Executive of GFirst LEP
If you agree, and want something to happen, sign my electronic petition of support here. Then e-mail Richard.Gibson@crosscountrytrains.co.uk and tell him you agree with your MP who is asking for more CrossCountry Inter City services to stop at Gloucester.
This is our opportunity. It won’t come back for three years at least. So let’s seize the moment and show that Gloucester deserves more services.
The Cross Country Direct Franchise Negotiations
I had mixed views on the announcement that government negotiations on the extension of the CrossCountry franchise had been concluded in September 2016.
I’m pleased that formal talks have been concluded but am disappointed that decisions on services have been postponed until after a consultation, which could have happened before the existing franchise expired, and that any changes won’t be implemented until December 2017.
However we’ve had to live with reduced CrossCountry services for the last 10 years and if we have to put up with one more year to get the right result then so be it. What matters now is that all of us who care about Gloucester connectivity and train services respond to the consultation and get this issue resolved. Local media and local councillors especially must join in if we want more services stopping in our city and I know the Rail Minister is listening carefully.
Details of the consultation will be published in due course.