Plans to cut Bristol to Waterloo service

Passengers boarding a South Western Railway Bristol to Waterloo service at Bath Spa

The Department for Transport plans to cut the through train service from Bristol, Keynsham, Bath, Bradford-on-Avon and Trowbridge to London (Waterloo) via Salisbury on 12th December 2021. Local rail user groups are coming together in the hope of reversing this.


South Western Railway have been running up to five trains a day on their Bristol – Bath – Salisbury – London (Waterloo) route.

They provide:

  • A well-used service from Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa to South London – Clapham Junction and Waterloo.
  • The only through services from London to Trowbridge, Bradford-on-Avon and Oldfield Park, and all but one services (which leave Paddington before 06:30 in the morning) to Keynsham.
  • The only direct trains from Woking, Basingstoke and Andover to West Wiltshire, Bath and Bristol.

These services are busy. On days when they are cancelled, other trains on the same line can overcrowd to squash levels. To make the same journeys across Salisbury without these trains means a wait of 50 minutes in one direction, and 59 minutes in the other direction. There are no alternatives that connect. They are not “duplicate” trains. They do not provide excess capacity.

No consultation

There was no consultation on this, even with the Department for Transport’s own “Transport Focus”. They write:

“We believe you should carefully consider deferring this proposal to December 2022, to give time for proper consideration of passenger feedback and how needs can be met in future.”

A Freedom of Information request to learn how the decision came about has told us that data is being withheld for a further period while a “complex public interest test” is applied – the effect of which will be that the data is not available until conveniently too late to do anything about it.

These are not little local services – they are long distance trains that provide key connectivity. Rail User Groups from along the route are coming together to raise awareness of the big difference these services make.

We ask for them to be retained for 2022 at pre-pandemic levels, with a view to providing a well tuned and appropriate service in future years.

Please sign our petition to ask the Department for Transport to reconsider its plans to cut Bristol to Waterloo service.

There will be a public meeting at Bethesda Baptist Church, Trowbridge on 20th October 2021 at 19:00.  It will be run on Zoom too – meeting details (and meeting code on the day) at

Main image by Graham Ellis