FEARS are growing that Ledbury could lose some, most or all of its direct train services to London Paddington by the autumn of 2015.

A consultation period on the future of the Great Western Franchise ended last week, on Thursday June 26, - and proposals for a shake-up only allow for an hourly service between Worcester and London Paddington, "with some extensions towards Hereford".

It is the vagueness of this statement which has led the Ledbury Rail Users Group to voice concerns and to urge people to contact local MP, Bill Wiggin.

The group's fears are actually being echoed by Mr Wiggin, who believes that an hourly service from Hereford to London Paddington, and back again, is "essential" for local jobs and business.

This would actually be an improvement on the present situation of five daily through trains, in each direction, - but a question mark now hangs over even this relatively limited service.

Rail Users Group spokesman, Dr Patrick Goode said: "Could Ledbury lose some of its direct train services to London Paddington? Currently there are five daily through trains in each direction, but in future there may be none.

"This seems to be the implication of the Consultation document for the Great Western rail services franchise."

Mr Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, wants to see a greatly improved rail service for Colwall, Ledbury, Leominster and Hereford.

He said: "I do not feel that the proposals in the consultation take into account the current sparse service from North Herefordshire - Hereford, Ledbury, Colwall - into London or back home again.

"The current proposals only provide for an hourly service to Worcester from London Paddington."

Mr Wiggin called this "unsatisfactory" and called "for every hourly service to carry on to Hereford reliably".

Mr Wiggin is also calling for the highly developed Intercity Express Trains to be used on the London to Hereford route, to improve reliability and times.

"I am hopeful my recommendations will be taken on board," he said.

The current franchise is due to expire in September 2015, when the new franchise, with new operating terms - whatever is decided - will come into force.