A £7 MILLION bid to build a new railway station in Worcestershire has been refused by the Government, it has emerged.
The county council’s bid for cash towards Worcestershire Parkway, in Norton, near Worcester, has been thrown out by the Department for Transport.
The rejection has been described as “a tragedy” by rail users in the county, but council bosses have vowed to hunt down fresh sources of funding towards the ambitious project.
They have refused to accept the DFT’s decision is a crushing blow for the scheme, and say they are still aiming to submit a planning application next year.
But it means the station, which would finally bring Worcestershire’s railway services into the 21st century, still needs a massive injection of funds before it can become reality.
The DFT had offered councils the chance to bid for money back in February from its £20m New Stations Fund, and awards have gone to new facilities in Cardiff, Devon, Nottingham and Tottenham.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: “This is still a vital project and there’s no way this work is being abandoned.
“The efforts made to put together the bid will continue and next year, we hope to put in a planning application for it.
“In terms of Worcestershire’s future, getting this railway station is vital, it’s a long term plan and aim for us.”
The money would have paid towards a railway station, 500 parking spaces, booking office, toilets, cycle spaces and a bus ‘drop and collect’ service.
It would have been topped up by around £5m of County Hall cash in a £12m development which has been 30 years in the making.
The DFT bid was the first time the council has gone cap-in-hand to the Government to ask for funding towards it.
Politicians say the issue has taken on even greater importance now developers want to build a new 2,200 homes village on land south of Worcester, in north Kempsey.
Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff said: “We’ve put down a marker with the DFT on Worcestershire Parkway and got it on their radar.
“I am optimistic about the future for this scheme, despite not getting the money.”
Peter Blake, head of integrated transport at County Hall, said he would “pursue all relevant funding streams” for it.
The new station would allow the county to access many long distance trains currently bypassing Worcestershire, including Bristol and Birmingham inner city ones.
It would also provide a platform on the Cotswold line.
RAIL USERS ARE IN DESPAIR........
RAYMOND Lander, 84, of Pershore, says the rejection is “a tragedy” for regular train users like him.
Mr Lander, a retired production engineer at the Longbridge factory in Birmingham, says services are so poor in Worcestershire has has stopped using them.
He visits major northern cites and regular haunts down south with wife Norma via the railways.
“I go to Manchester, Plymouth and Torquay but the railways are so bad here, I no longer use train services in Worcester or Pershore to go long distance,” he said.
“If I want to go to Manchester, I’d end up getting a train from Pershore to Worcester, then have to go to Birmingham, wait half an hour or longer, then go to Manchester.
“Now, I go straight to Cheltenham or Birmingham where you can get direct trains.
“There’s 15 of us who live around here and we all take it in turns to drive. “If I was a businessman, I would not have it based in Worcester or Wychavon, I’d go to Birmingham or Cheltenham.
“We need this parkway station, it’s a tragedy that Worcestershire hasn’t got it, it really is.”
Colin Goodman, aged 41, of Worcester, also uses the trains regularly to get to family in Yorkshire.
He said: "It's not a bad service at the moment, but if you need to get somewhere quickly it can be a pain changing stations.
"I find if you need to get to London it's decent, but going to the north it's awful - I think politicians need to tell the truth on that.
"Worcestershire would really benefit from this station, so I'd urge them to carry on looking for the cash, or even better fund it themselves."