TWSW have called for the Government to step in an give dramatic exceptional support to commercial bus routes during the COVID outbreak.  

Letter to Baroness Vere of Norbiton from TWSW
Government asked urgently to step in and address the increasing real threat to essential journeys as commercial bus companies cannot afford to carry the entire cost. The solution is straightforward…

27 March 2020


Go-Ahead has won tender routes in a bid package offered to Cornwall Council

Richard Stevens MD Plymouth Citybus is to be congratulated putting together the successful bid for services in Cornwall.

Go-Cornwall Bus will build upon the much applauded collaboration between the Council and First,  and looks to realise the Cornwall Council’s team vision for cross county connectivity which has driven innovation and change for passengers in Cornwall.   We understand that the package includes more buses, new routes, greater frequency, and a greener tyre print.

First retains the Truro Park & Ride tenders, and the commercial routes operated by First are not affected in the award.

Read the Press Release HERE

Bus Passenger Survey suggests our region has it good….

The Transport Focus Bus Passenger Survey says the bus users are mainly satisfied with their experience in the region. Of course you have to have a bus to be a passenger. Read more details here

Let’s hope the Paddington Reading stretch of Crossrail opens on time….

We can look  forward to reaching Canary Wharf from Paddington in 17 minutes rather later than planned:



Friday 31st August 2018

By Crossrail

Elizabeth line services through central London to start in 2019

§  Central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood will open in autumn 2019

§  Further time required to ensure a safe and reliable railway for customers from day one of passenger service

The Elizabeth line, which will redefine transport in London with quicker, easier and more accessible journeys, will open through central London in autumn 2019, Crossrail Limited announced today. The revised schedule is needed to complete the final infrastructure and extensive testing required to ensure the Elizabeth line opens as a safe and reliable railway.

The hugely complex ten-year project, delivered by Crossrail Limited, brings together multiple infrastructure contracts, new trains and three different signalling systems. The Elizabeth line will add 10 per cent to central London’s rail capacity, and the project will boost the economy by an estimated £42bn.

Crossrail Limited has been working hard to maintain the programme and sufficient testing time is required to introduce the next phase of the railway – the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood – in a way that can be guaranteed to be safe and reliable.

The original programme for testing has been compressed by more time being needed by contractors to complete fit-out activity in the central tunnels and the development of railway systems software. Testing has started but further time is required to complete the full range of integrated tests.

The focus remains on opening the full Elizabeth line, from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, as soon after the central tunnels open as possible.

Simon Wright, Crossrail Chief Executive said: “The Elizabeth line is one of the most complex and challenging infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK and is now in its final stages. We have made huge progress with the delivery of this incredible project but we need further time to complete the testing of the new railway. We are working around the clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.”

The new Elizabeth line trains are already operating between Shenfield and Liverpool Street (mainline station) and between Paddington (mainline station) and Hayes & Harlington, in readiness for the full opening. The trains are also being tested in the Heathrow tunnels. Construction activity is drawing to a close including the completion of the remaining architectural fit-out in the new central section stations.

When the central section of the Elizabeth line opens in autumn 2019, the railway will initially operate as three separate services as planned:

§  Paddington (Elizabeth line station) to Abbey Wood via central London

§  Paddington (mainline station) to Heathrow (Terminals 2, 3 and 4)

§  Liverpool Street (mainline station) to Shenfield

The new railway, jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London with support from London’s business community, will connect stations such as Paddington to Canary Wharf in only 17 minutes, transforming how Londoners and visitors move across the capital.

The Elizabeth line will bring an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London and more than 200 million passengers are expected to use it every year.

Great Western Consultation

Update link:  Great Western Rail Franchise Stakeholder Brief Document

We can take some pride in the way that DfT has decided to amend the objectives that it is setting for the GW franchise in 2020:

In the light of the consultation we now propose the following revised objectives for the franchise in the 2020s:

• Provide safe, punctual and reliable services with enough seats and space for people who want to use them and at the times when people want to travel;

• Focus on the needs of the travelling public to provide an excellent and continually improving customer experience for all passengers, whatever their particular needs and abilities, and improving ease of interchange between rail services and other modes;

• Maximise the benefits for passengers from the current transformational investment in the Great Western railway network, including by ensuring that enhanced services are delivered to a high standard of punctuality and reliability performance;

• Maximise the contribution of the railway to driving local and regional economic growth, enabling planned growth in housing, and meeting the wider needs of citizens and society across the whole of the franchise area;

• Be a responsible employer who invests in the welfare and the development of its workforce, motivating staff and equipping them with the right skills to provide the best possible customer service;

• Strengthen the connection between the railway and the communities it serves, supported by strong relationships with all those who have an interest in the franchise and the services it provides;

• Continue to improve the environmental performance of the railway including the environmental impact of older diesel rolling stock, support wider environmental objectives by providing an attractive alternative to more polluting modes, and improve measures such as energy and water consumption and recycling; • Develop close collaborative working with Network Rail and other partners, bringing the operation of track and train closer together to deliver the best possible service for passengers, providing more coherent, integrated advice to local funders and promoters of schemes to improve the railway and drawing in funding from the widest possible range of sources;

Work with the Government and other agencies to support the development and delivery of other major rail investment schemes, such as the proposed western rail link to Heathrow, East-West Rail and the interface with HS2 at Old Oak Common; and

• Operate efficiently, providing best value for taxpayers’ and passengers’ money, thereby ensuring the maximum possible resources are available for further service improvements.

The italicised sections show the amendments that the DfT has agreed to its original list.  Some of the amendments reflect our suggestions, word for word.  Other capture the spirit of what we were proposing in our consultation response in January.   Christopher Irwin 28/08/2018

One map to remain for the GWR Franchise

Chris Grayling has sensibly reflected the overwhelming Stakeholder response from the South West region by indicating that the GWR franchise will not be split into smaller units.   We look forward to hearing the full Consultation outcome (update above added 28 Agust 2018).   You can read the Consultation response from the South West at TWSW Connecting the Dots

Inclusive Transport Strategy

The outcomes of the Draft Transport Accessibility Plan consultation are included in the Inclusive Transport Strategy (ITS) which states the Government’s future plans for accessible transport. The ITS  released on 25 July 2018, identifies five themes which should underpin future efforts to realise a transport system which enables disabled people to access and confidently use transport:  Promotion of passenger rights and enforcement; Better Staff Training; Improved Information; Inclusive Physical infrastructure; and, Future of Inclusive Transport.

The CrossCountry Franchise Passenger Consultation is open

Having provided the DfT with our Stakeholder document’ “Connecting the Dots”, we are encouraged to find TWSW’s fingerprints on the consultation document.   The impressively large turnout for our June 22 event provided an opportunity to hone and consolidate views in preparation for the TWSW  response.   In early/ mid   August, a draft version will be circulated among attendees for comment.

TWSW Connecting Dots – Click here to read the report online 

Bus Services Bill Draft Regulation and Guidance

This Consultation opened Febraury 8 and closed 11.45 pm March 21 2017. Travelwatch SouthWest attended a consultation meeting with the DfT on behalf of Members.
PRTF Closing the Gap
This is the eagerly awaited PRTF Report (issued on 21 November 2016) setting out their priorities for the South West.  TravelWatch SouthWest are pleased to see the report includes so many of the points raised at the October General Meeting, and thank John Hillman and Philip Heseltine for their engagement.

As a result of autumn bus cut announcements and franchise consultations, mid-winter 2015/2016 has been an active period for stakeholder engagement including, the XC Direct Award, a Bus Workshop and the South Western Franchise Consultation.

Our Bus Workshop in Taunton on January 21st 2016 generated a high level of discussion and a number of issues were raised which we will pursue at a national level, some of which will be highlighted at our late winter meeting with MPs. Our thanks to our speakers: Derek Beer, Transport Focus; Richard Gamble, Wiltshire County Council and TWSW; John Burch, CPT; Mike Watson, Stagecoach; and Damien Jones, Devon County Council.  Stakeholder engagement was very strong and many ideas where expanded upon which may enable some to steer an easier course through these turbulant times.  Links to presentations can be found on our Meetings Page.

We have digested a large number of written and oral responses to the Department for Transport Rail Executive’s Consultation on the new South Western Franchise to produce a forty-eight page booklet titled, “Specifying the new South Western Railway Franchise: THE OTHER HALF”.  Digital copies are be available from February 3rd.

TWSW organised a South Western Franchise Meeting with the DfT in Salisbury
TWSW organised a South Western Franchise Meeting with the DfT in Salisbury
John Stocker (DfT) visited TWSW in Taunton to exchange ideas on the CrossCountry Direct Award
John Stocker (DfT) visited TWSW in Taunton to exchange ideas on the CrossCountry Direct Award

November 11 2015

In response to the news that Network Rail will not complete the Great Western Electrification Project as planned, we are demanding that the Government takes special measures to acquire additional carriages for GWR’s hard-pressed rail passengers. The call comes following the revelation by ITV today that Network Rail won’t be completing the Great Western electrification project as planned.

The cost of completing modernisation of the Great Western main line from Paddington through Reading to Bristol, South Wales, and the branches to Basingstoke, Oxford and Newbury is now expected to be around three times the original budget and has slipped years behind schedule. Network Rail’s recovery plan for the project means that work on the lines to Oxford, Newbury and Basingstoke will be stopped while effort is concentrated on completing the main line.
This will have a big impact on passengers throughout the region. Great Western Railway, which operates passenger services throughout the south west, had planned to cascade the diesel trains released by electrification to enhance services, adding more seats in the rapidly growing Bristol and Exeter travel-to-work areas and on the busy routes between South Wales and the south coast.

March 7 2015 TravelWatch SouthWest announce the appointment of VInita Nawathe as new Chair at a vibrant meeting.

Oct 13th 2014 Western Route Study Draft for Consultation has been published

Western Route Study. Draft for Consultation. Responses must be received by close of business on Friday 9 January 2015.

Feb 7th 2014 – CrossCountry confirms cut price rail travel after recent storms

From Monday10 February, any customer purchasing an Advance ticket for a journey with CrossCountry to or from any station west of Exeter, needs only buy a ticket to or from Exeter St Davids station. This would mean someone travelling from Penzance to Manchester could purchase an Advance ticket for as little as £53 for their 350 mile journey. See: Changes to Fares – crosscountry

Feb 7th 2014 – FGW confirms 25% discount on walk-up fares for services affected by Dawlish line closure

First Great Western has confirmed it will be offering discounted fares to customers travelling on its services affected by the closure of the railway at Dawlish.

Yesterday, Network Rail confirmed that the damage to the track will take at least six weeks to fix, and trains will not be able to run between Exeter and Plymouth during that time. Instead, First Great Western has ordered hundreds of buses to provide alternative transport between the two cities while the track is repaired.

Volunteers from other areas of the business, who have been supporting our efforts to keep customers moving in the area are expected to be joined by colleagues from other FirstGroup rail companies throughout the UK over the weekend.

A 25 per cent discount will apply to all walk-up fares – including Any time, Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak tickets – for journeys that pass through the affected area, and will remain in place until the line reopens.

Advance Purchase fares will also be reintroduced on the route for combined bus and rail fares from Wednesday next week. The company has been unable to offer Advance Purchase tickets – which are tied to specific trains – since Wednesday, as we were unable to guarantee which trains would be running.

First Great Western Managing Director, Mark Hopwood said: “We recognise that this work will mean customers are inconvenienced, and journey times are likely to take longer than normal as we look at alternative ways of getting customers to where they need to go. We want our prices to reflect that.

“No-one should lose out because of this. FGW’s promise is that anyone who has been unable to purchase an Advance Purchase ticket because they were removed from the system and paid more than they would have done normally, will be reimbursed the difference.”

Feb 6th 2014 – Railway line sea at Dawlish breached

A 30 metre section of the wall supporting the track at Dawlish has collapsed as result of heavy seas during the current spell of bad weather affecting the South West. This has left the line suspended in mid air. See our media section for updates and news.

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