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Mayor Dave Slams Conservative Government over Intercity Rail Downgrade

April 14, 2019 9:00 AM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Mayor Dave Hodgson and Cllr Wendy Rider at Bedford Midland railway stationMayor Dave Hodgson has slammed the Government after the arrangements published this week for the new intercity rail franchise confirmed the Conservatives' removal of Bedford from its historic place on the Intercity Rail network.

Mayor Dave had warned previously of the Govenrment's plans to downgrade Bedford station by removing intercity services and replacing them with commuter-style services which run between Corby and London. Local Conservatives accused him of scaremongering over rail services, only for the final franchise specification and then this week's franchise announcement confirming the Tories' downgrade decision.

The franchise announcement also seems to confirm that the new services will be slower than the 37-minute London services Bedford has had previously, with the commuter trains also stopping at both Luton stations rather than the existing arrangements of stopping at one or the other.

The Government's decisions therefore mean Bedford faces reduced connectivity to the midlands and beyond, and slower services to London.

Mayor Dave will soon be meeting again with Abellio, the new franchise operators from August 2019, and he will again press them to provide a better service than the Government's requirements for Bedford as far as they possibly can.

You can see copies of the Government's franchise maps which confirm Bedford's removal from the intercity rail network here on Mayor Dave's Facebook page, where he commented:

"And here it is: the Government's maps showing the intercity lines in the new East Midlands Rail franchise all exclude Bedford - we appear only on the commuter line between Corby and Bedford.

We knew this was the Conservatives' plan from the specification for the franchise, but it's still awful to see the almost total removal of Bedford from its historic place on the intercity rail network.

An indefensible decision, especially in light of the Government's insistence on massive housebuilding targets for Bedford Borough!

It seems as if the the services to London will also now stop at both Luton stations rather than one or the other, slowing the journey from Bedford and further diminshing our service.

And remember, all this is in spite of a massive, overwhelming response to the government's consultation from Bedford rail users, dwarfing the response from any other area.

I've already been making our case to the new operator Abellio to give Bedford's growing population a better service than the government's plans, and I'll be meeting them again soon to press this crucial point."