Go-Op (train operating company)
Go-Op (full name Go! Cooperative Ltd), is an open access train operating company which is currently proposing to operate a service between Taunton and Swindon, via Westbury. It aims to become the first cooperatively owned train operating company in the United Kingdom, to improve access to the public transport infrastructure through open access rail services linking main lines to smaller market towns, and co-ordinating services with light rail and bus links and car pools. Go-Op intended to begin operating rail services in the spring of 2014, however difficulties in obtaining rolling stock and severe financial difficulties incurred by their main partner The Co-operative Bank have delayed these plans.
As a co-operative, Go-Op is to be owned and run by its employees and customers. Shares are available to the general public, with holdings restricted to between £500 and £20,000 per shareholder. Passengers hold 50 per cent of the vote in general meetings, with employees holding a further 25 per cent, and other investors holding the remainder.
The company created a draft timetable, which offered four return trips between Yeovil Junction and the Midlands, via Yeovil Pen Mill, Castle Cary, Frome, Westbury, Trowbridge, Melksham, Chippenham, Swindon and Oxford, with three of those services being extended to Birmingham Moor Street. The timetable proposed an early morning service from Yeovil to Birmingham, catering for business travellers, followed by a commuter service from Westbury and Trowbridge to Swindon and Oxford. Later services to Birmingham would cater for the leisure market. There were plans to extend the route further south to Weymouth, however it was acknowledged that for this to happen extra trains would be required. Go-Op estimated that around 750,000 people live within 2 km of stations on the proposed route, excluding Birmingham.
One of the company's original aims was to look at developing links into existing mainline rail routes, by developing light rail services on existing branch lines. Routes in and around Yeovil, Oxford and Weymouth were considered, but rejected due to the technical difficulty of turning the routes into viable public transport links.
The co-operative had planned to operate a 'trial' service at some time during early 2011, from Medstead & Four Marks to Alton, over part of the Mid-Hants Railway. The shuttle services, branded as Go-Op Mid-Hants Link, and utilising rolling stock from Parry People Movers, would connect with South West Trains main line services to Farnham, Woking and Alton. Five trains were scheduled in each direction, with morning trains from Medstead & Four Marks to Alton and evening trains from Alton back to Medstead & Four Marks. The trial was to be run in conjunction with Hampshire County Council and East Hants District Council. Technical issues with the Parry People Mover caused the trial to be postponed and it has yet to take place.
|Andover to Ludgershall - proposed route diagram|
A line which is still being considered is the Ludgershall branch, near Andover on the border between Wiltshire and Hampshire. The line south of the former station in the town remains open for freight traffic, namely the delivery of MOD equipment to Salisbury Plain. Over time, the company hopes to establish shuttle bus services, car clubs and bike hire to improve links with the rail network.
In 2016, Go-Op lodged an application with the Office of Rail and Road to operate a service between Taunton and Swindon, via Castle Cary, Bruton, Frome, Westbury, Trowbridge, Melksham, Chippenham. It initially proposes to operate Class 185s before purchasing a fleet of Class 195s. In June 2016, a revived version of open access operator Go-Op was proposed to ORR. The service would run from 2019 between Taunton and Nuneaton via Swindon and Oxford. Under the plans they would use Class 230 between Taunton and Swindon between December 2017 and 2019. They would not use these trains for the full route.
|Class||Image||Type||Top Speed||Number||Number of Carriges||Routes Operated|
|185 Desiro||DMU||100||160||10||3||Full Route: Nuneaton to Taunton|
|195/1 Civity||DMU||100||160||4||3||Full Route: Nuneaton to Taunton|
|230 D-Train||DEMU||50||80||2||3||Taunton to Swindon (2017-2019)|
- "Go! Co-operative on track to create rail travel of the future". Social Enterprise. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
- "Go-Op: Plans". Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- "Going Forward! News from Go-Op" (PDF). Retrieved 26 October 2014.
- Go! Offer document (retrieved 3 September 2010)
- "Co-operative train operator planning route from Birmingham to south and west". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
- Go! Offer document (retrieved 17 August 2010)
- Plisner, Peter (June 2010), "Co-operative Open Access", Rail Professional, Cambridge, pp. 22–24, archived from the original on 2011-07-21
- "Can social operators plug the gaps in the British network?". International Railway Journal. Archived from the original on 16 June 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
- "Medstead Parish Council meetings and minutes". Archived from the original on 10 January 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
- The Railway Herald (retrieved 18 January 2011)
- Go-Op train go-op.coop
- "All 'Go' for railway co-op: Co-operative News". Paul Gosling. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
- "Open access operator Go-Op unveils plan to launch new West Country service" The Railway Magazine issue 1385 August 2016 page 9
- "Go-Op! Website".
- "Go-Op! Presents Somerset Rail Improvement Plan".