Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk has welcomed the decision to extend the franchise of the Cross Country rail service with Arriva Cross Country (AXC) from October this year for another three years.
The extension will see AXC introduce additional rolling stock with an expected delivery date of December 2017. An additional 39,000 seats will be provided across the service, including trains stopping at Cheltenham Spa.
Alex Chalk said:
“The Cross Country service is a critical link for Cheltenham residents travelling and working in Bristol, Birmingham and connecting stops. I have been working closely with the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard MP, on maintaining and improving the current service. I’m pleased that we will be getting additional capacity to relieve overcrowding.
“I particularly welcome the commitment to improve access for disabled persons and those with reduced mobility on the high speed diesel trains."
Alex Chalk continued:
“The timetable is going to be reviewed to reduce overcrowding and increase flexibility from December 2017. I want to make sure that any timetable changes benefit Cheltenham. I am preparing a detailed submission to the Minister. I am asking local train users to send me their views on the current service and how it can be improved. Users can contact me on email@example.com and I will also be surveying local train users directly.’’.
Alex added: “The Minister has agreed that, as part of the contract, AXC will also make improvements to advance ticket booking and reservation of seats on the day of travel. Currently there can be problems with punctuality. That has to be addressed. New passenger satisfaction, punctuality and cleanliness targets will be introduced on the franchise. We expect AXC to continue improving standards, including the provision of free Wi-Fi on all trains.”