PUBLIC transport campaigner David Redgewell has pressed Dorset Council to better support local bus and rail services.

He said key bus links between Bridport and Yeovil, Dorchester and Bridport and Lyme Regis to Axminster, Weymouth and Blandford to Salisbury and routes to Poole, Bournemouth and Swanage all need developing.

He was also critical of the county’s draft climate strategy which he said did not look at the role of park and ride in keeping traffic out of Weymouth, Swanage and Lyme Regis and failed, he said, to make any mention of investment in transport interchange facilities.

In a question to this week’s council cabinet meeting he said it was also not clear how services would operate in the future in the light of covid 19

“Whilst the strategy talks about walking, cycling and active travel funding, it’s not clear on public transport or school buses if services may be open to the fare paying passengers due to social distancing,” he said.

On local rail services Mr Redgewell called for improvements including the upgrading of stations at Weymouth and Dorchester West.

He said that investment is also required on the Weymouth to London Waterloo route with the need for the track to be doubled through Moreton on the electrified section.

He also called for the Wareham to Swanage route to have a daily rail service and Wareham station to be fitted with proper disabled access with a lift, footbridge, disabled toilets and improvements in bus/rail integration.

Mr Redgewell said that more could also be done in the county to carry freight by rail.

Cabinet brief holder Cllr Ray Bryan said that at the moment there are no bidding opportunities via the Western Gateway Subnational Transport Body (STB) for rail improvements, but work was underway on possible rail improvements.

“What we are doing is preparing a rail strategy with our partners in the STB which will put us in the right position to make the best case for investment in Dorset and set it within the regional context – poor connectivity within Dorset is bad news for our neighbours as well as for us. We can then use this strategy as a basis for working with the rail industry and the Department for Transport to bring much needed investment in Dorset’s Railways,” he said.

He said the council was also working with Network Rail on a number of issues, including exploring the possibility of a more frequent service on the Heart of Wessex Line.