GREAT Western Railway (GWR) will soon cease to be a part of a sustainable travel scheme, potentially forcing thousands of commuters in the Thames Valley area back into their cars.

From the end of March this year, GWR will stop involvement with easitNETWORK after 10 years.

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For 15 years, the company has worked with train, bus and other travel providers across the south and south east, signing up major employers such as the University of Oxford, Virgin Atlantic, GSK and Hastings Direct – plus many local councils and hospitals – to save money for their teams and encourage sustainable commuting by providing discounted travel fares to their employees.

Dr Mel Mehmet, CEO and founder of easitNETWORK, said: "We have worked successfully with GWR for 10 years to get commuters out of their cars and onto the train, removing around 24,000 tonnes of CO2 each year from the atmosphere and reducing congestion. s

"At this moment of climate crisis, we are bitterly disappointed that GWR no longer wants to be part of such a successful sustainable travel scheme."

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Travel partners see an increased number of travellers on less busy routes and increase their overall revenues.

According to a GWR spokesman, the train company's membership of the Easit scheme was designed to help encourage shifts from road to GWR services in the Thames Valley.

He added: "From December many of the services we were targeting with this offer transferred to TfL Rail, and we reassessed our involvement on that basis.

"We want Easit customers to continue to travel with us.

"We also want to see more shift to rail travel.

"To do that we have to focus our investment on what works - for example the mobile assistance service we launched a few weeks ago."