England

MPs call for direct rail service between Oxford and Bristol

Electric train - artist's impression Image copyright Network rail
Image caption Electric trains should be running between London and Bristol by 2016

Ten MPs have written to the transport secretary calling for a direct train service between Oxford and Bristol.

Tory and Lib Dem MPs from Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Bristol and Somerset want the service to be included in the next Great Western franchise.

The proposed route would connect Bristol, Bath, Chippenham and Swindon to Oxford and Bedford.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said it was investing "record amounts" in improving railways.

'Overcrowded services'

Tory MP for Wantage Ed Vaizey said the idea would help the campaign to re-open local stations along the route, including one at Wantage.

He added: "It would run along existing track that is currently being electrified, so would require relatively little new infrastructure.

"We know existing services are increasingly overcrowded and people travelling from towns without stations add to traffic congestion on our roads."

Lib Dem MP for Bath Don Foster said the route would "release some of the pressure on the current services through Bath".

He added he was calling "on businesses and major employers to voice their support".

A DfT spokesman said: "We are investing record amounts in improving our railways and are always happy to receive proposals for new train routes.

"Local authorities and the rail industry have the primary responsibility for investigating the best way to reopen local stations, but we look forward to hearing more about this proposal in due course."

The next Great Western franchise award will start from September 2015.

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