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Railway cuts are reversed
9:01am Wednesday 10th January 2007 in News
Rail commuters have won their battle for the reinstatement of key rush-hour services between Oxford and London.
Yesterday, First Great Western announced it will improve the timetable from Monday, with the 6.45am express reinstated and a 7.33am fast train, also calling at Didcot, being laid on in place of the former 7.25am departure.
The withdrawal of both the services from the new First Great Western timetable, launched last month, caused a storm of protest from passengers, who were forced to travel earlier and try to get on trains that were already busy before making calls at Oxford and Didcot.
In the timetable changes, Didcot lost a fast service during the morning rush-hour and two return services during the evening peak.
Passenger group Ox Rail Action was set up within days of the cuts to campaign for FGW to reinstate the expresses.
Spokesman Zahra Akkerhuys said: "We're pleased that passengers are finally being listened to. This is the result of passengers refusing to suffer in silence.
"However, only time will tell whether these changes will cut the levels of overcrowding that passengers have faced since the new timetable was introduced in December.
"FGW must continue to talk to passengers, to ensure that their interests come before profits."
FGW managing director Alison Forster said: "We recognise that some elements of the timetable have not met all our customers' needs and we apologise to those customers who have experienced crowding and train cancellations on some key services.
"I'm announcing a number of changes, including additional morning peak services and extra seats, to alleviate the problems experienced by some customers."
She is due to meet Thames Valley MPs in Westminster tomorrow to hear their concerns about the company's services.
Wantage MP Ed Vaizey said he had received a flood of mail from disgruntled Didcot commuters, complaining about late and overcrowded trains and fare increases. He said: "It has been a complete and unmitigated disaster, no doubt about it."