UK: Great Western Railway is to stop 17 extra London Paddington – Bedwyn trains a day at Newbury Racecourse from February 8, to help people access a coronavirus vaccination centre there.
This will be in addition to the current hourly timetabled service between Newbury and Reading.
‘Rail continues to play a key role in providing travel for key workers during the pandemic, and now in helping to carry people to their vaccination’, said GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood on February 4. ‘While we have taken some sensible measures to reduce our timetable during the present lockdown, this allows us to able to quickly respond to changes in demand, making sure that we can be relied upon at this time to help people travel safely and with confidence where they are able to.’
The service was suggested by Geordie Taylor, who runs the Hungerford Self-Isolation Group and has been helping to arrange transport for people who cannot get to a vaccination centre. ‘When I contacted GWR with the suggestion that more trains should stop at Newbury Racecourse I was prepared for a polite rejection’, he said.
‘To my surprise and to GWR’s immense credit, they not only agreed with me, they also fast-tracked the initiative with Network Rail to make it happen in double-quick time. This minor change to a complex timetable will be a huge benefit to all residents of Hungerford and many others along the line during the vaccination programme.’