300 anxious commuters packed into a public meeting to challenge the government’s case for removing intercity rail services from Bedford.
The plans would mean no more direct trains north of Kettering, and the loss of the fast 37-minute intercity peak time link to London.
It was standing room only at the event at the town centre’s Park Inn Hotel in Bedford, on Monday.
Bedford mayor Dave Hodgson demanded that the government stop ‘ignoring Bedford’.
He highlighted the initial intention not to hold a consultation meeting here, only for representatives to admit on the night that it was the biggest turnout they had ever seen at a consultation event.
He also slammed the government for treating Bedford Rail Users as cash cows, assuming they will quietly go on paying thousands of pounds for their season tickets in return for a downgraded service.
Dozens of speakers at the event set out the impact this would have on them and the community at large.
Mayor Dave said: “Bedford’s rail users exposed the absurdity of the government’s approach. Taking fast intercity trains away from a growing town is deeply illogical and unfair.’
“People have made major decisions in their lives asked on our rail services, such as moving home and changing jobs.
“This meeting showed the strength of feeling locally, and now we have to keep up the fight to save our intercity fast trains.”
Mayor Dave also exposed the fact that the government had failed to consult with Bedfordshire councils in advance of the proposals being published.
While it had done so with East Midlands councils in developing the plans failing to do so at all with any of the Bedfordshire councils, and repeated his insistence that the Government starts listening to Bedford.
Prior to the meeting, Mayor Dave joined fellow placard-holding campaigners to demonstrate outside the venue. They also aim to raise awareness of the campaign to save Bedford’s intercity fast trains.