THE biggest shake-up of the train timetable for decades will see Weymouth getting a twice-hourly service to London.

Campaigners today welcomed the move, saying it would give passengers greater flexibility and be good for business in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

But they remain concerned about retimed services on the Bristol branch which are also getting an overhaul.

Both Weymouth-Waterloo operator South West Trains and First Great Western which runs trains to Yeovil and Bristol are introducing new timetables for the winter starting on Sunday.

The journey time to the capital will be reduced as one of the services will run as a fast train, cutting out some stops. The company's managing director Stewart Palmer said: "Doubling the service to and from Weymouth is a massive boost to passengers in South Dorset.

"The route from Bournemouth to Weymouth is a large and popular area of the south west and it is only right that we strive to provide a better service.

"With the sailing events for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games coming to Weymouth and Portland in a few years I have no doubt that we will be carrying a lot more passengers down to the coast."

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council's spokesman for transport and infrastructure Councillor Christine James said the extra services would make the train a more attractive transport option for leisure and business visitors.

Coun James said the council was 'very disappointed' that First Great Western was changing the timings of its Weymouth services.The company has promised to review the timetable when it is changed in the spring.

Assistant passenger transport manager at Dorset County Council Barry Thirlwall said First's new timetable was 'far from ideal'.

He said it was disappointing that through trains to Cardiff were being stopped after just one year and said new timings would disrupt travel patterns.