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Last Updated: Friday, 16 July, 2004, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Commuters angry over train switch
Adam Kobeissi
Adam Kobeissi says he chose Milton Keynes because of the fast trains
Rail passengers say they face longer journeys on older trains when a new autumn timetable is introduced.

From September, Virgin is stopping most of its commuter trains from Milton Keynes, which is used by up to 6,000 passengers every day.

Commuters unhappy that they will have to switch to Silverlink trains have set up a users group and website in protest.

The business community fears the change could deter future investment.

The town's Chamber of Commerce is campaigning against the changes, saying it is bad news for Milton Keynes, for local business and for local people.

The only reason I came to Milton Keynes was because of the quick and fast links to London
Adam Kobeissi
Travellers using Northampton Station will also be affected by the changes as Silverlink's northbound services will terminate there.

Commuter Adam Kobeissi is among the group campaigning to keep the Virgin trains.

"The only reason I came to Milton Keynes was because of the quick and fast links to London. It meant I didn't have to spend two hours travelling in.

"The 40-minute journey on a Virgin train was perfect. Now if we lose that in September it voids the whole reason for moving to Milton Keynes," he said.

The new timetable was decided by the Strategic Rail Authority which the government announced on Thursday is to scrapped.

Virgin says the changes are not all bad news.

'Good service'

Spokesman Charles Belcher said: "I do sympathise with people's worries but I do want to reassure them in the new service there will be extra Silverlink services and longer Silverlink services - they will have a good service to and from London."

Julian Drury, of Silverlink, assured commuters that journeys would not be longer.

"One of the fears of Milton Keynes people is that the trains will be more crowded but because we are leasing in a lot of extra coaches we are making sure will provide a lot of extra capacity to and from the city," he said.

The Milton Keynes Commuters Alliance members insist they do not want to travel on Silverlink, and have vowed to carry on campaigning even when the Virgin Trains go.

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