Developments on the mainline project

Our flagship mainline rail route has now changed, and the Westbury – Birmingham service option has morphed into Taunton – Nuneaton, in order to take account of higher trip generation rates. More recently, we have also found that an effective interaction with services existing and planned by other operators is facilitated by the addition of Yeovil as a destination. This greatly enhances the connectivity of the network in the west country, giving hundreds of thousands of people a real alternative to car travel. [Download PDF route diagram]

Our plan is to begin operation with a modest operation with just two train sets so as to test our systems and trains with minimal impact on the wider network. This means that our timetable must necessarily rely heavily on interchange with other operators services, and our timetable will consist of a few long distance movements combined with a number of short distance shuttles. It is the combination of these things that creates new connections with an adequate number of journeys each day - our target is seven or more services (a mix of direct and with one or two changes making less than 40% of journey time) each day to make a viable travel option.

We now have run times for the sections of the route calculated precisely and to the standards of the network code. In addition, our gauging study of the route has verified to the millimetre that our rolling stock will clear platforms and other track infrastructure. We are currently putting together package of materials to underpin the Track Access Application, including demand forecasts and delay analysis, in order to show that this will be a positive contribution to an integrated rail network.

Our first objective is to meet the expectations not only of our members but also Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road. We believe we have made good progress on all of these, including:

• Putting in place a professional, experienced and broad-based management team

• Showing that the route will be able to operate profitably within three years

• Having a credible plan for recruitment and operations

• Setting up a bond guarantee for our contributions to network maintenance

• Confirming insurance cover for whole service

• Gaining commitment from a supplier to secure suitable class 769 rolling stock

• Preparing a detailed safety management system

Collaboration is key to the success of this project and we would welcome approaches from partners who are interested in how these new connections might fit in with their strategies. In particular, we'd love to hear from social, co-operative and community enterprises. Please contact info@go-op.coop to discuss further.