Fears Cranbrook could close train stations

PUBLISHED: 09:33 17 March 2010 | UPDATED: 01:03 16 June 2010

Cllr Peter Bowden.

Cllr Peter Bowden.

WORK will start on the construction of a new railway station at Cranbrook later this year, but commuters using stations at Feniton, Whimple and Pinhoe fear they could lose out.

WORK will start on the construction of a new railway station at Cranbrook later this year, but commuters using stations at Feniton, Whimple and Pinhoe fear they could lose out.

Less stops at the stations and even station closures are their top fears - and they have shared their concerns with county and district councillor Peter Bowden.

He has discovered that train stops at Cranbrook have already been factored into South West Trains' autumn timetable, even though very few or no passengers will be waiting on the platform.

The station and access road are being built ahead of thousands of new homes.

"Having factored a stop into the timetable, the question is: will South West Trains then divide the journey between Yeovil Junction and Exeter in such a way that they will either favour Cranbrook at the expense of Feniton, Whimple and Pinhoe or close some of the stations?" Councillor Bowden is asking.

He said: "The problem is, the changes they have already made have ignored the short distance commuting that many, many people undertake between Honiton and Exeter.

"We have encouraged the Met Office, ROK and other big businesses to persuade their employees to use green transport options.

"It doesn't make sense and doesn't follow Government policy."

Councillor Bowden says the introduction of a passing loop at Axminster has failed to deliver the improved timetable expected by commuters.

"It was to the detriment of local services," he said.

"Trains departing Yeovil Junction arrive in Exeter at the same time - whether they stop in Feniton, Whimple or Pinhoe or not.

"South West Trains is probably throwing away £100,000 or more a year from Whimple alone."

Councillor Bowden says his biggest fear is that people will be driven away from the railway and get back into their cars.

He claims a Government survey found more people drive cars in the South West than anywhere else in England - at a time when the region has the oldest rail fleet, people live the furthest from a bus stop and pay the highest fares for public transport when it is accessible.

"Many of my electors have written to me and they have been scathing about the reaction they are getting from customer relations at South West Trains," said Councillor Bowden. "There is no frank dialogue and it's been really poor."

Nobody from South West Trains was available to comment.


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