RAIL passengers and campaigners have been left disillusioned as new train operators propose to halve the number of direct train services between Weymouth and London Waterloo.

Incoming operators of the South Western railway franchise, First MTR South Western Limited, confirmed the company only intends to run one train to the capital each hour.

Currently there are two trains to the capital each hour, an improvement introduced 10 years ago. The South Western franchise has been operated by South West Trains (Stagecoach) for the past 20 years but will be taken over by First Group in partnership with Hong Kong-based company MTR on August 20.

The plans, which will be subject to public consultation from September, propose to maintain one direct fast service to London an hour which will be up to 14 minutes faster. The second service will be replaced with a stopping service from Weymouth to Portsmouth meaning those travelling to London will have to change trains at Southampton Central.

The announcement follows previous promises from First Group that it would provide “more seats, services and quicker journey times.”

Dorset-based travel writer and photographer Geoff Moore of traveltrunk.net said: “It’s definitely a retrograde step in terms of the commercial and business development of Weymouth and south west Dorset. It puts Dorset at a grossly unfair disadvantage, and the reality is we are getting a third-class service.”

Residents are worried that the proposals would result in small stations such as Wool losing their direct line to the city.