WORCESTERSHIRE’S MPs believe they are moving closer to securing improvements to the county’s poor train links to London.
A delegation including Worcester MP Robin Walker, Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff and West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin held talks with Transport Minister Simon Burns on Tuesday to lobby for an improved service to the capital. Trains from Worcestershire to London can take up to three hours, despite commuters asking for faster and more frequent trains for years.
The Department for Transport is currently seeking to award a contract for running the Cotswold Line franchise between 2013 to 2028.
Worcestershire MPs have previously criticised the tender documents for a “lack of ambition”. But they were encouraged by their meeting with Mr Burns, describing it as “useful” and saying that the minister was sympathetic to the cause. Mrs Baldwin said: “Simon Burns is a new minister and could not believe how poorly served our county is by the current infrastructure. “Although he made it clear that while the current franchise process is frozen, with the four bids in sealed envelopes, he was receptive to the case we made for better infrastructure.” Mr Walker was similarly encouraged by the meeting. “It was great to have the Worcestershire MPs speaking with one voice on improvements that we need to see to serve our constituents and get our trains running faster,” he said. “We need to keep up the pressure and use every opportunity to put the case for a better service.”
Mr Luff said he was particularly pleased by Mr Burns’s enthusiasm for a new Worcestershire Parkway station at Norton, just outside Worcester. “This project seems to be tantalisingly close to becoming a reality thanks to the hard work of the county council. “Now we have to persuade Network Rail to give it their full support,” he said.
Mr Burns is now asking rail chiefs to write to the MPs with suggestions on how improvements on the overcrowded line, which is still single-tracked in parts, could be achieved.