New Rail venture could benefit Wiltshire
A rail service from Westbury to Birmingham Moor Street, passing through Chippenham, Swindon and Oxford, is being proposed by a Co-operative Society.
"GO-OP" say they're in the final stages of preparation of their application for a Track Access Contract to the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR), and are looking for support for the project.
The service would provide up to eight trains each way per day between Westbury and Birmingham, serving Trowbridge, Melksham, Chippenham, Swindon, Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick and Solihull. There would be two-hourly departures 06:00 to 20:00 weekdays, & additional Friday services, and hourly departures in peaks, with morning tidal flow from the south, returning from the Midlands in the evening. GO-OP would also provide weekend services to Weymouth in the summer.
In addition they are tendering to run a Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) supported service between Salisbury and Westbury. This, combined with the above service, meets Wiltshire Council's aspiration for a direct Salisbury to Swindon service.
To date supporters have contributed £400,000 to develop the proposals. GO-CO say they will not seek further investment until they can demonstrate that the service is feasible. If all goes well then new rolling stock will be leased. The trains will be built overseas, but at least 30% of their value will be UK-sourced and they will be maintained in UK, creating new employment. The service will operate for at least ten years (this is the length of Track Access Agreement being sought), and is planned to start in early 2014. Capital requirement of £3 million (mobilisation and capital costs plus working capital) will be raised from a mix of existing investors, financial institutions and bank borrowing.