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Campaign to save bus link goes into top gear
4:36pm Thursday 25th October 2007 in News
OVER 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on South West Train bosses not to axe the Romsey to Winchester rail-link bus, claim campaigners.
Fathers 4 Justice front man, Matt O'Connor, is behind the "Mutiny on the Buses" campaign to keep the service on the road.
He organised a petition-signing morning in Romsey's Market Place on Saturday, when 200 people added their names to the campaign. The bus mutineers were joined by the town's mayor, Cllr Mark Cooper and borough councillor and Tory parliamentary candidate, Cllr Caroline Nokes.
Matt said he planned to put more pressure on SWT to reverse their decision to end the service in December.
"We will up the ante with protests that are designed to surprise and inspire, until we win a sensible period of time from South West Trains, so we can be consulted and also put together counter proposals to them," said Matt, who revealed a major demonstration will be staged on a Winchester Station-bound bus on Friday, November 9.
Matt said a busload of "humbug-carrying Father Christmas" would be on board in a "Scrooge" protest against the axing of the service.
Further "lightning protests" are also planned and a public meeting has been scheduled at Romsey's Abbey United Reformed Hall at 8.30pm next Thursday (November 1).
Romsey's MP, Sandra Gidley and Cllr Nokes will be at the meeting, along with representatives from SWT, Hampshire County Council and the borough council.
SWT say only about 60 people a day use the rail-bus link and it is not viable to keep in running. It claims that, from December 9, a new improved rail timetable, will make it easier for passengers to reach Winchester rail station via Romsey and Southampton rail stations and at times there will be up to four trains and hour.
However, Matt discounts the rail firms claims. "Somebody from the county council had better step in quick to explain how this joined up, integrated transport policy is supposed to work, given all the cutbacks.
"It isn't just commuters being affected, but the elderly and the vulnerable and we are looking to expand our campaign to embrace other service-users affected in other parts of the county. It they want to join us, they should contact us immediately," he added.
Cllr Nokes, who helped collect names for the petition said: "For those who use the service, it has provided a real integrated travel' solution and to lose it would be a blow to the objective to get more people out of their cars and onto public transport.
"For my part, I remain committed to working to find a way to continue with this useful services and will be working with all agencies to secure that."