The May timetable change will see GWR boosting the number of trains between Worcester, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Bristol to a near hourly frequency.
The CLPG has welcomed the changes, which it has been calling for over many years, along with the Ashchurch and Tewkesbury District Rail Promotion Group.
Another welcome improvement is the addition of a call at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury station in the 07.25 IET from Worcester Shrub Hill to London Paddington via Swindon. This creates an opportunity for a day out in London using direct trains both ways, with the 19.33 from Paddington to Worcester already calling in the other direction.
However, there will still be 90-minute gaps in the GWR service between Worcester, Cheltenham and Gloucester in both directions during the weekday morning peak period.
After the arrival at Worcester Shrub Hill at 07.50 of the 06.10 from Bristol Temple Meads and at 08.00 of the 06.33 IET from Swindon and Gloucester, the next GWR service reaching Worcester from the south will not be until 09.28, when the 06.35 from Salisbury via Swindon gets into Shrub Hill. It then waits there for 17 minutes to allow a West Midlands Railway service to use the single line, finally making it to Foregate Street at 09.47.
In the other direction, after the 06.52 departure to Bristol from Foregate Street (07.07 from Shrub Hill) and the 07.25 IET from Shrub Hill to London Paddington via Gloucester and Swindon, the next southbound GWR service will be the 09.00 to Bristol.
CLPG chairman John Ellis said: “We welcome the improved service between Worcester and Bristol being introduced in May. The CLPG has been campaigning for many years to improve the frequency and reliability of this route, and this introduction of an almost regular hourly service throughout the day will be welcomed by many people.
“There are still some gaps, particularly for morning commuting between Worcester, Ashchurch, Cheltenham and Gloucester, and we will continue to press for these to be closed. We hope the improvements will be well promoted by GWR, and will do what we can to assist in this, to help to reduce car travel on the busy M5.”
The CLPG is also concerned about cuts in the number of trains on the Bristol route that will be extended beyond Worcester to serve Malvern Link and Great Malvern, and a reduction in the number of trains between Hereford and London.
The weekday 04.49 departure from Hereford will be cut back to just operate between Oxford and London and the current 06.43 departure from Hereford will instead start from Great Malvern at 07.13. In the other direction, the 18.57 from Paddington will terminate at Great Malvern at 21.21, rather than continuing to Hereford.
- GWR dmus 158760 and 158767 are pictured at Worcester Shrub Hill on August 27 last year. Picture: Steve Widdowson