Mixed reaction to rail changes

First published in News

CHANGES to Chiltern Railways timetable have met with a mixed response from a rail users’ group.

The firm said its December timetable would provide more seats and faster journeys from Banbury to London Marylebone.

This includes more seats on the 6.58am and 7.24am weekday services and a 6.15pm express from London.

And it will run direct services from King’s Sutton at 6.09am, 8.11am and 9.10am instead of 5.29am, 6.18am and 9.51am now.

It said this was in response to concerns about services at the village during a public consultation.

And the number of weekend seats to London will increase by 2,650 to 42,370 and from London by 2,750 to 42,622.

Banbury to London commuter and Cherwell Rail Users Group chairman Chris Bates said morning services from Banbury were already crowded.

He said of extra seats: “It is welcome but to be expected.”

And he is concerned whether the new 6.10pm London express service can make up for the loss of 6.10pm and 6.13pm services.

The firm said the ex-InterCity silver trains are popular as they have more leg room and a buffet bar.

But Mr Bates said: “They are both pretty full already. We strongly suspect that there will be overcrowding on that train.

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“The 6.10pm will go from being the nicest one in the evening to the worst.”

And he said the firm has to run a King’s Sutton service to get into the capital at about 8.30am. The new 8.11am service gets in at 9.28am.

He said: “They have provided the right number of services but haven’t supplied them when people want to travel. It is worse than it is currently.”

Customer service director Jennifer Payne said: “Banbury is an important town to us at the heart of our network.”

She said: “The new timetable reflects the issues that our customers said were important to them.”

A spokesman added: “We have to balance the requirements of small stations like King’s Sutton with our need to provide long direct trains from large stations like Banbury.”

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