ALRUG, as the group representing rail users on the Avocet Line, campaigns for improvements to services and facilities. We want the best possible railway today, and an improving one in the future. To see our 5 year vision for the line please read our second manifesto, launched at the 2015 AGM. Your can also see our first manifesto, which we published in 2010.
ALRUG was instrumental in obtaining Community Rail status for the Avocet Line.
So we have these campaigns under way:
- A more frequent service on Sundays. In the run up to Christmas 2012 a pilot half-hourly service was operated during the day on Sundays. Similar pilots ran before Christmas and in the summer months for the next three years. In May 2016, a half hourly Sunday service was introduced to run throughout the year. ALRUG is now working with GWR and the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership (see http://seizethesunday.org/) to ensure the on-going success of the service.
- Devon Metro, and lobbying for new stations to serve major new housing developments at Newcourt (station opened June 2015) and Monkerton. ALRUG has produced a summary of the proposed scheme. Click here to read the appraisal report prepared by Devon County Council.
- Station improvements – work is being taken forward through the Community Rail Forum to introduce improvements to our station through the adoption of station standards.
The group has also played a role in the development of the Great Western Franchise. The Avocet Line is currently operated under franchise by First Great Western. This franchise, which covers services between London and the West Country, South Wales and the Cotswolds, including all services in Devon and Cornwall, was due to end in July 2013. However, following the discovery of errors in evaluating the bid for the West Coast Main Line Franchise, the Department for Transport paused the franchise competition while a review of the franchising procedure was carried out. It was announced in March 2013 that the new franchise will not now start until July 2016. It was announced on 3 October that First Great Western would continue to operate the franchise until September 2015. In May 2014, the Department for Transport launched a further consultation to seek views on making a direct franchise award to First Great Western for a period of up to five years. ALRUG responded to this consultation. On 23rd March 2015 the Department announced that it had concluded a Direct Award Franchise Agreement with FGW under which the company will operate the franchise until April 2019 (the expected start date for the next franchise). The new franchise started in September 2015, operated by the newly named Great Western Railway. Earlier concerns that delays in the franchise process might hold up much needed improvements in the franchise area were reflected in a report produced by South West local councils in 2013 which called on Government to recognise the importance of railways to the far economy of the South West. To read a copy of the report, and our press release issued in response, click here.
Read our summary of what we think the future should hold and how we are trying to shape it.