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Use new rail link or use it, passengers urged

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: December 11, 2012

WELCOME PARTY: The first train is met by rail promotion group chairman Alistair Cameron, fourth right, treasurer John Stretton, second left, Ashchurch View Care Home manager, Councillor Vernon Smith, Northway parish council chairman Steve Cooper, vice-chairman Roy Winrow, Councillor Simon Excell and ex-Tewkesbury town mayor Chuck Pavey

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TRAIN users are being urged to use a new link from Tewkesbury to London – or risk losing it.

Members of the Ashchurch, Tewkesbury and District Rail Promotion Group celebrated the new service when it began yesterday.

The first direct train link to London for many years saw the Worcester to Paddington high speed service stop at the Ashchurch for Tewkesbury railway station at 5.39am.

The First Great Western service runs from Monday to Friday and takes two hours and 28 minutes to get to the capital.

John Stretton, of the rail group, said he was delighted the service had launched, but stressed more people would have to use it if it was to remain after a year-long trial ended.

Yesterday just five people got on at Ashchurch, with one going to Swindon, two to Cheltenham and two to London.

He said: "First Great Western have said that we need to encourage as many people as we can.

"We've said to people in leaflets we've handed out that we've got to use it or the chances are we will lose it."

He said it would take time for people to realise that the new service was operating.

The new link enables people from Tewkesbury to go direct to Paddington, but with no direct link back, passengers have to change at Cheltenham in order to get back to Ashchurch.

But Mr Stretton said Tewkesbury people would benefit greatly from the service.

A super off-peak single can be purchased on board or in advance for £27 – £46 cheaper than paying on the day for the same train at Cheltenham

First Great Western ruled out a later time of 7.21am.

Mr Stretton explained: "We asked about that, but they said the line is too congested at that time for it to stop."

County councillor for Tewkesbury, Vernon Smith, welcomed the train into Ashchurch as Shire Hall is funding the £12,000 trial to encourage economic growth.

He said: "It's fantastic news and will help to allow Tewkesbury to grow."

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  • Helens Allsorts  |  December 17 2012, 8:41AM

    FGW announcement; Technically the train is a peak service. It is currently mis-reporting in systems due to Ashchurch for Tewkesbury not being specifically mentioned in the fares restriction. This was not an issue before the direct train was introduced, as the restrictions applying from Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester or Bristol Parkway were automatically picked up, as itineraries required a change at one of these stations. Ashchurch for Tewkesbury will be added to the coding in order that the restrictions are applied correctly. The correct walk-up fare to London is £73.00 single, rising to £76.00 single from January 2nd 2013. Advance fares, subject to availability, will offer a considerable saving.

  • late83  |  December 17 2012, 7:21AM

    If you live in Cheltenham, Why not just buy an Ashchurch to London Paddington ticket at the much cheaper price, and then join the train at Cheltenham as normal. Nothng they can do about it, they cant penalise you for where you get on as long as you have a valid ticket to the destination.

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  • dontyaknow  |  December 12 2012, 9:18PM

    Agree completely ShireResident. There is great potential in the station and a rename would go along way towards helping. At the moment trains are very haphazard from Ashchurch, but as you mention it looks likely that the Army camp will close and be developed. 2000 houses have been mentioned, which could potentially be 4000 working people. Ashchurch is only 30 minutes from Birmingham by rail and the station is right on the doorstep so people will use it. However, the station needs a regular (preferably 'clockface') timetable. 1 train an hour to (2 at rush hour) to Birmingham 1 train an hour to Cardiff 1 train an hour to Bristol 1 train an hour to Worcester Regualr (direct) service to Swindon/Reading/London. With the re doubling of the line at Kemble, it will allow some flexibility in the timetable so I hope the guys pushing the station will push the Franchise holder to extend at least 1 train every 2 hours to travel beyond Cheltenham to Ashchurch for London services. To be fair, they have done a brilliant job getting this service. TIMONLINE - I expect it is to get people to use the service. That time of the morning is certainly off peak at Ashchurch. You can actually buy advance tickets from £9 for London, and there are £9 returns too. £18 to London and back is very good value for money. In fact if you want to travel to London on that service on Friday, there are still £9 tickets left. And if you have to catch that service from either Worcester, Cheltenham or Gloucester, then park your car for Free at Ashchurch and enjoy huge savings (prices to London): from Cheltenham: £76 from Gloucester: £76 from Worcester: £76 from Ashchurch: £28 Quite a difference between them for a seat on the same train.

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  • TIMONLINE2010  |  December 11 2012, 4:55PM

    A super off-peak single can be purchased on board or in advance for £27 – £46 A peak time ticket from Cheltenham to London costs more like £80 - how can that be justified?!

  • Shireresident  |  December 11 2012, 12:16PM

    I guess cutting services is always an option for the coalition government. it would be a pity though as the service is well used and valued. If the army camp gets redeveloped for housing the potential market for the station could double overnight so ditching it now would be a waste of the public money invested in it. There could be a real future for Tewkesbury Parkway it only needs the rail operators to fill the gaps in the timetable and the Birmingham commute could be a real earner.

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  • Ysedra  |  December 11 2012, 11:02AM

    Is there a third option? Like, losing it, perhaps?

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  • Shireresident  |  December 11 2012, 10:54AM

    Great news, I've often thought that renaming the staion would also benefit the service. Let's face it most visitors to the area wouldn't equate Ashchurch with Tewkesbury town. Calling it something like Tewkesbury parkway would make it clear that it primarily serves the town as well as the rural hinterland.

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  • golfathon  |  December 11 2012, 8:36AM

    Note to editor Stop staff using spell check... it is unprofessional and lazy.

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