Shropshire, Herefordshire and Telford & Wrekin all deserve rail services and integration with bus services that are equal to the best in Europe

9 January 2016

Arriva trainThe Green Parties in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin have long argued for a significant improvement in rail services and integration of bus and rail services. Public transport services in this region are underfunded, are not integrated and are generally of poor quality, failing to reach the standards that are the norm for rural public transport in Switzerland or urban public transport in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The residents of this region have been asked to make suggestions to a rail franchise consultation for the West Midlands [1] and our three local Green Parties have responded with a clear list of what must be done to generate a long-overdue upgrade of rail services in this area.  We want:

  • an urban rail system for the Birmingham city region as good as Berlin’s or Vienna’s with total integration of high quality tram, bus and urban rail;
  • the complete scrapping of HS2 and reallocation of the £50 billion to projects both nationally and in the West Midlands that really do improve the daily travel experiences of millions of ordinary people;
  • all rail services in the UK brought under full, public, democratic control so that residents and passengers can have a voice in how services are run and how failings can be corrected;
  • an end to rip-off fare increases;
  • electrification of the Marches line between Newport (South Wales) and Crewe;
  • new rolling stock for the Marches line to eliminate overcrowding and increase bike-carrying capacity;
  • a guaranteed hourly service on the Marches line at all of these stations – Hereford, Leominster, Ludlow, Craven Arms, Church Stretton and Shrewsbury;
  • all stations on the Hereford-Shrewsbury line to have ‘cheek-to-cheek’ bus services meeting trains, as is the case in rural Switzerland.

BusCommenting on the consultation and the urgent need for much improved and integrated bus and rail services, David Gibbon, South Shropshire Green Party, said:

The UK is the fifth-richest country in the world and there is no excuse for putting up with rail and bus services that are so much worse than in other European countries.  The franchise consultation is a great opportunity to improve public transport in Shropshire and we will fight hard for a good deal for residents throughout Shropshire and Herefordshire who are clearly losing out at present: they deserve better!

Felicity Norman, for North Herefordshire Green Party, said:

"Herefordshire is one of the most rural and sparsely populated counties, with among the lowest incomes in the country and more than 25% of people without a car. Bus services have been decimated, leaving many people isolated and unable to reach work and education. It is essential that rail services are improved and fully integrated with the remaining bus services. Travel costs, already among the highest in Europe, need to be monitored and applied fairly across the UK."

Cath Edwards, of Telford & Wrekin Green Party, said:

"Telford & Wrekin enjoys a frequent and usually reliable train service; what the area now needs is an integrated and affordable bus service to all areas of the borough, not just around Telford. This problem is particularly acute for students attending the colleges in Wellington and desperately needs addressing."

The Shropshire Star reported on this here.