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gas and electricity has gone on sale through Co-op venture ‘Energy for All’. So why not a railway company? Until now open-access operators have focused on routes into and out of London, the most recent entrant being Wrexham & Shropshire, which runs through Shropshire and the West Midlands to London’s Marylebone station. But the latest open access offering is looking at different routing opportunities. According to Go Co-op, which is likely to

be known simply as ‘Go!’ in the future, there are plenty of other opportunities worthy of consideration. These range from small-scale unused and underused branch lines to large- scale cross-country routes that cut across existing franchises. Following a thorough analysis of DfT studies and Network Rail route utilisaton strategies, a cross-country route that links the south coast to the Midlands was chosen. The route would carry passengers from

Yeovil to Trowbridge, and then head through Melksham to Swindon and north to Oxford before going on to Birmingham. Go Co-op believes that the route has the best potential for a new service because it connects to a number of centres of population for which

there is currently no direct provision. But it also has a good balance between delivering social benefits to poorly served communities like Melksham and Frome and significant demand between large places like Swindon and Oxford. Another good reason is that the

route doesn’t require major changes to infrastructure. Go Co-op operations director Chris Phillimore says: ‘At a fundamental level we are looking at doing something different with open access. We are calling it the “multi-flow” model where, unlike existing open access operators, we are not just targeting a single London flow, but a series of inter-urban flows that make an overall profitable route. We have only looked, to date, in southern England, not because of any regional partisanship, but rather that we only had the resources to analyse a constrained area.’ The group believes that there is

significant latent demand, especially in places like Melksham, which has a population of more than 20,000, but where there is currently only a minimal ‘parliamentary’ service. Having selected the route for the new service, Go! engaged an external contractor

‘According to Go Co-op, which is likely to be known simply as ‘Go!’ in the future, there are other plenty of opportunities worthy of consideration’

to undertake timetable modelling. That exercise resulted in a draft timetable that will, according to Go!, offer four round- trips over the Yeovil to Oxford section, with three of those services being extended to Birmingham Moor Street. There are plans to extend southwards to Weymouth, although the timetabling exercise indicated that going there would require an additional train set. The draft timetable envisages an early-

morning train running from Yeovil all the way to Birmingham, for business travellers, and a later train offering a commuter service from Westbury and Trowbridge through to


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