DORSET Council calls for government intervention on cuts to rail services, fearing Dorset’s tourist economy may be derailed by a newly reduced timetable.
As reported, the train operator South Western Railway (SWR) has reduced services on the Weymouth-London Waterloo line to just one train per hour. Previously there was a bi-hourly service. A temporary
Meanwhile, the last train from Waterloo has also been discontinued and a ‘seaside special’ which runs through Gillingham and Sherborne to Weymouth is to cease altogether.
The measures were called “neither acceptable nor appropriate” by the holder of the Dorset Council portfolio for travel adviser Ray Bryan, who is now calling for government intervention, fearing the cuts could
In a recent letter to MP Chris Heaton-Harris, Minister of State at the Department for Transport (DfT), Cllr Bryan expressed concern about the impact on visitors to the Dorset coast this summer.
Cllr Bryan wrote: “We are writing to express our concerns about the heavily discounted rail service in Dorset provided by South Western Railway.
“Before the pandemic we had two trains per hour (tph) running between Weymouth and Waterloo, one fast, one stop. During the pandemic this was reduced to one tph plus a shuttle between Weymouth and Bournemouth to allow connection to d ‘other services This is now reduced to one t / h between Weymouth and Waterloo.
“We are in favor of this temporary measure as the rail industry recovers from a period of turbulence in unprecedented times – we do not believe it is appropriate or acceptable in the longer term.”
Cllr Bryan said the council anticipated “above average” levels of tourism in Dorset this summer as UK holidaymakers decide not to travel abroad.
He added: “We are concerned that the reduction in rail service will mean more tourists will travel to Dorset by car, which does not match the national commitment to reduce both traffic in the region Dorset Council and the much wider region to respond to the central and local government national climate emergency program.
“Getting cars and trucks off the road is essential to both of our goals: cutting services at a time when we have the opportunity to persuade people that there are alternative means of transportation is counterproductive. We are happy to work with all forms of public transport to find ways to improve ridership. ”
And concerns have also been raised about the impact on local commuters:
Cllr Bryan said: “We are extremely disturbed by the effect this could have on our economy by reducing the possibility for our residents to access employment, education and health care in the metropolitan area of Bournemouth Christchurch Poole.
“As a local authority, we strongly support rail services in Dorset by encouraging new residential and employment developments close to the railway line and our active participation in community rail partnerships to increase rail usage.
“We are also working with Network Rail on their Dorset Strategic Study to identify the infrastructure improvements needed to achieve the long-standing aspirations of a Dorset Tube service (a higher frequency shuttle service in the region South East Dorset), among other improvements, which would mean additional rail services to the Dorset Council area.
“We urgently ask you to reconsider current plans and at least give us the level of rail service provided over the past few months as a temporary measure before reinstating two trains per hour as soon as possible.”