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East of England Liberal Democrats

Mayor Dave Makes Bedford's Case in Meeting with Rail Minister

May 16, 2018 10:30 AM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Intercity train at Bedford StationMayor Dave Hodgson has challenged the Rail Minister Jo Johnson MP over the imminent loss of peak time fast intercity trains from Bedford in a meeting on Bedford rail issues. During a meeting on Bedford rail issues, which was also attended by Bedford and Kempston MP Mohammad Yasin and North East Beds MP Alistair Burt, Mayor Dave insisted that the Government must do more over the loss of peak time fast trains, and bring fast intercity services back.

He also made Bedford Borough's case on a range of key rail issues, including the importance of the next East Midlands Trains franchise including intercity trains for Bedford, in contrast to the government proposal for them to be lost indefinitely in a consultation last year.

Commenting, Mayor Dave Hodgson said: "I had to point out that the Rail Minister's website talks of 'improving rail services' for his constituents, while in Bedford we're having to fight to stop the government reducing our services. I made Bedford Borough's case on a range of rail issues including Wixams station, East West Rail to Oxford and Cambridge, an upgraded Bedford station and more.'

"We argued that the government must act to reduce the harm of the imminent loss of peaktime fast trains and must retain intercity services at Bedford longer term under the next franchise. He's promised to respond to us on these issues, and at the very least he now knows how critical they are for Bedford Borough's residents and employers."

Commenting further in a post on his Facebook page, Mayor Dave said:

"I have a message for all Bedford Rail Users from Rail Minister Jo Johnson MP following my recent meeting with him along with local MPs: The Government is sorry for the loss of peak time fast trains from 20th May, and how it was handled.

So at least the Government is recognising that it is letting Bedford Borough down badly over these service cuts. That doesn't help thousands of local rail users get to and from work on time, however.

There are a wide range of rail issues currently on which the Government is either letting Bedford down or on which we need its support, and I made our case on each of them in our meeting:

- The huge impact on local people and local employers of the upcoming loss of peaktime fast trains, which the government must do more to reduce.

- The need for Wixams station.

- East West Rail to Oxford and Cambridge.

- The replacement of Bromham Road Bridge by Network Rail, which could cause massive disruption and must include better cycle and pedestrian provision.

- The next East Midlands Trains franchise from 2019, which MUST NOT scrap intercity trains from Bedford indefinitely, as the government proposed in a consultation last year.

He's promised to respond to us on these issues, and at the very least he now knows how critical they are for Bedford Borough. I couldn't help but mention to Mr Johnson that his website talks of 'improving rail services' for his constituents, while we're having to plead for the government not to reduce Bedford's!

We made a forceful case for Bedford in making that plea, and I'll keep working with anyone to improve the outlook for our rail services."