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Cash for new railway station under threat
ATTEMPTS to get £7 million of Government cash for a new Worcestershire railway station is under serious threat of rejection – amid concerns the county is playing ‘catch up’ on rival bids.
Your Worcester News can reveal the county council’s bid for Norton Parkway funding is lagging behind rivals – and that the authority may be asking for too much money.
The Government has made £20 million available for new stations, but detailed guidance suggests only requests for £5 million or less are likely to be accepted.
Network Rail, which is managing the fund, will also give priority to bids with a detailed report known as GRIP 3 (Governance for Railway Investment Projects).
County Hall yesterday admitted they have not yet completed GRIP 3, instead saying it would be ready “within the next year”.
Rival bidders are already much further advanced with proposals for new stations, including working up detailed designs.
It includes the likes of Low Moor, in Bradford, which needs £3.3 million of cash, and Haxby, in York, where a new station would cost between £5.3 million-£7.4 million.
The authority did submit the bid before yesterday’s deadline, however, and is still hoping it springs a surprise by being accepted.
Peter Blake, head of integrated transport, said it has a “strong business case”.
“The scheme has strong business and political support, including the district council, the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership and MPs,” he said. “The council will continue to pursue all relevant funding streams to bring forward this important scheme and the New Station Fund programme is one opportunity to apply for funding.”
Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff said: “The important thing is showing we are serious, so even if this bid is not successful, Worcestershire Parkway is put in the minds of Network Rail and the Government.”
Other sources suggest although the bid is likely to be rejected, the slim chance of success at this stage makes it worthwhile.
A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “Ideally, a bidder would have GRIP 3 complete by now, but it does not mean the bid will be rejected automatically.
“We are supportive of Worcestershire County Council’s bid and will be working it through.”
The money would go towards a booking office, 500 parking spaces, toilets, cycle parking and a bus service ‘drop and collect’ service.
If successful, it would mean Worcestershire can tap into more direct services to London, the South West, South Wales, Birmingham and beyond.