GO-OP Train

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GO-OP's mission is to reduce the social and environmental impacts of travel by providing mutually owned, high quality and inclusive public transport services that encourage people to choose more sustainable options.

• GO-OP is the UK’s first co-operatively owned Train Operating Company (TOC), and the only Open Access TOC in South West.

• GO-OP will enhance the UK rail network by creating a diverse range of new connections, bringing benefits to all rail enterprises and encouraging modal shift away from car transport. Providing high-quality, affordable services on routes that currently are either unserved, poorly served, or under-used by existing rail operators.

• GO-OP will be financed largely through 'community shares' – an innovative model for equity investment used successfully by large community energy societies (read more on the Invest page).

• GO-OP is working towards newly refurbished battery powered rolling stock which will deliver exemplary environmental performance, reliability and passenger comfort.

GO-OP as a Co-operative

GO-OP Train is a multi-stakeholder Co-operative Society (Somerset Rules).

Members are in one of three tyoes:

• Traveller members have 50% control of the business and must be users or prospective users (i.e. they live near a proposed route) of the public transport services;

• Worker members are employees (or, in some cases, regular contractors or volunteers) and have 25% control; and

• There is also a class of non-user members that are supporters of GO-OP Train and have made a significant investment in it. The non-user members can never make up more than a quarter of voting strength, either at general meetings or board meetings, so as to ensure that the co-op is always under the control of its intended beneficiaries GO-OP is not charitable, but it is non-profit; surplus is either: • Returned to members in the proportions that they contributed (co-operative dividend).

• Used for charitable purposes or community benefit. • Reinvested in the business, but never distributed to investors. Interest paid on shares is intended to be a sufficient compensation to attract and retain investment; this is the only financial return we offer to shareholders.

To find out how to become a GO-OP member, read more on the Join page.

The First Route

GO-OP’s ambition is to commence passenger services in summer/autumn 2022. GO-OP's proposal is to operate an entirely new route, principally on the Taunton - Swindon corridor. At first GO-OP can only introduce three direct services to Swindon, due to high levels of congestion beyond Westbury. However, they will also operate a further three services to Frome or Westbury, with the aim of connecting with services to Swindon already on the timetable. This greatly enhances the connectivity of the network in the West Country, giving hundreds of thousands of people a real alternative to car travel. Journeys that were previously very difficult or impossible by rail (for example, Yeovil to Taunton, or Frome to Chippenham, or Taunton to Frome), should now become practical. In years to come we hope to ensure at least one train every two hours for each of these.

Discussions between GO-OP and the West Somerset Railway could lead to a scheduled daily service linking the national rail network, via Taunton, to the heritage railway at Bishops Lydeard for the first time in 50 years. Passengers will be able to change there for leisure services to Minehead, and may also see an increase in bus services so that more people in West Somerset and North Devon can access the railway. A further opportunity is to take some services up through Bridgwater to Weston-super-Mare, up to three times a day.

GO-OP now have run times for sections of the route calculated precisely and to the standards of the network code, a path analysis that confirms our the timetable to Westbury and Swindon is compliant with other operators needs.

The volume of services on this route will initially be:

  • Monday – Saturday: 3 return trips Taunton-Swindon, 3 return trips Taunton – Westbury, 5 return trips Taunton-Bishops Lydeard Sunday: 3 return trips Taunton-Swindon, 3 return trips Bishops Lydeard - Taunton
  • Sunday: 3 return trips Taunton-Swindon, 3 return trips Bishops Lydeard - Taunton
Click here to see the full Timetable

Some of the main benefits include:
  • Starting the route at Bishops Lydeard, a station not connected to the mainline, opens a new area of potential passengers. Ideal for those commuting into Taunton or wanting to avoid town centre traffic to catch a mainline train and for visitors to the West Somerset Railway.
  • The route from Taunton to Swindon could be one of the main rail corridors for the west; at present the poor services and connections mean that there is only one viable trip southbound on this route but GO-OP’s services increase that to six (there is an hourly route with a change at Bristol that is faster, but Taunton and Swindon are the only stops in Somerset and Wiltshire that it calls at – there are seven other stations between those two, and GO-OP will call at all of them).
  • Between Swindon and Yeovil there is presently only one northbound trip per day with that has less than 30 minutes waiting for connections; GO-OP’s timetable makes it five.
  • Improvements for journeys across Wiltshire: such as the TransWilts route from Swindon to Salisbury via Melksham and Westbury. There are presently only four viable journeys (less than half an hour waiting for a connection) southbound on a weekday, and seven northbound; adding GO-OP’s routes makes it six and nine respectively making it much more practical.
  • An increase in the volume of services at significant towns such as Frome (up by a quarter) and Melksham (up by a third); all of which will enable interchange at Westbury for a wide variety of destinations.
  • Changes at Castle Cary allow travel between Taunton and Yeovil (and often, Dorchester) at six times each day both ways – rather than only four at present.
  • The proposal for a station re-opening at Langport & Somerton will be greatly strengthened by GO-OP’s commitment that if it opens, all GO-OP’s services will stop there.

Rollingstock

A key part of GO-OP’s mission is to reduce environmental impacts travel and adopt sustainable modes of transport. A big leap forward for GO-OP in this area is the recent completion of an innovate UK funded feasibility study proving that a nine-tonne battery can be added to readily available 319 train sets to operate efficiently on non-electrified mainline routes – a solution known as a 769 IPEMU. GO-OP hopes to pave the way for the electrification of routes where overhead line power delivery is either incomplete or absent and impractical to install. It requires not only advanced battery technology on the train itself, but also lineside batteries to support rapid recharging. Further work is now underway to begin preparing units. This electrification of stations may also allow for an expansion of electric car club services, and interchange on to electric buses, in the future.

This is an ambitious project in itself, and will take at least the rest of 2021 to deliver. Therefore, in the first instance GO-OP plan to use Class 156s', diesel multiple-units, for a transitional service.