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South Western Railway (SWR), owned by GWR and MTR, the Hong Kong mass transit railway, took over the service previously run by South West Trains at the end of August 2017. On the line through Bruton they are running almost the same timetable, and will continue to do so until 8 December 2018.     SWR recently published a draft timetable, to start on 9 December 2018, with four trains from Yeovil and Bruton to Waterloo each weekday, and two from Waterloo to Bruton and Yeovil, a great improvement on the present timetable, but no trains at all at the weekend. They have invited comments, and we convened a working party to set out Bruton’s case for a better service, to include trains at the weekend. This group, representing the Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the Community Partnership and the Friends of the Station, put up a strong case for improvements, and especially for trains in both directions, morning and evening, on Saturdays and Sundays. Our suggestions will be considered in the new year along with those from many other groups. We know that our MP, Mr David Warburton, has written to the company backing our case; we also have ‘friends at court’ in senior managers of the new company with whom we worked very happily while SWT were running the service and who moved across to SWR; they are being most encouraging.

Slow progress with electrification of the line from Paddington to Bristol and South Wales. This has proved far more complicated and expensive than expected, and for now the wires will go no further from Paddington than to Chippenham, 20 miles on the London side of Bath. It matters to us because London-Bristol trains will now have to be hauled by power cars with diesel as well as electric motors - and these are the ones that were supposed to be coming on our own (unelectrified) main line via Reading, Westbury and Castle Cary.  So we still have the 45-year old HST 125s with their clunky slam doors. On the Bristol-Weymouth line we are also having to wait for the faster diesel trains now running on the Thames Valley lines, where electrification is also going slowly. They are however beginning to appear in the West and are already in use on the Avonmouth line and between Bristol, Weston-super-Mare and Taunton.

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