Fresh attempt to get Cotswold Line dual tracked - and secure parkway deal

Better railway services for Worcestershire is back on the agenda

Better railway services for Worcestershire is back on the agenda

First published in News Worcester News: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

A MAJOR new bid to improve Worcestershire's "terrible" railway links is kicking off - with the county council preparing a fresh attempt to get the Cotswold Line dual-tracked from Worcester to Oxford.

Politicians have hit out at poor links from the county to London, saying the current services are "an albatross around Worcestershire".

Now the Conservative leadership says it wants fresh dialogue with the Department for Transport, operators and Network Rail over dualling the route to tap into services bypassing the county.

Your Worcester News can also reveal how last year's failed bid to secure £7 million of Government cash for Worcestershire Parkway, in Norton, is being revisited.

The council is preparing a detailed report known as GRIP 4 (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) after the 2013 bid for funds was rejected because it lacked that depth.

The authority says it hopes to made "significant" progress by early 2016 on securing the land, getting planning permission and tapping into some Government funds to finally make it a reality. It followed a debate on Worcestershire's train services during a full council debate at County Hall.

A motion by Councillor Paul Tuthill calling on the council to press for "urgent" dualling of the whole of the Cotswold Line from Worcester to Oxford was backed by all parties.

Cllr Tuthill said: "This is so important for Worcestershire, so much so that I think it needs to go on our corporate 'dashboard' so it's looked at regularly and monitored by management."

Councillor Robin Lunn said: "The current situation is an albatross around Worcestershire.

"It shouldn't be just on our dashboard, it should be right at the top of the dashboard - it seems so incredibly old fashioned that this section of track is not dualled."

Journey times from Worcester to London vary from two hours 20 minutes right up to three hours or longer, and areas like Rugby and Warwick have similar services despite being further away.

People in Cardiff have better, quicker services than Worcestershire, mainly because the Cotswold line is a single track.

During the debate Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and the cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure also said Norton Parkway is back on the agenda.

"It's been raised for decades but I am quietly confident and think we're finally winning the argument for it," he said.

"There is plenty of evidence around the growth of rail travel, and plenty of confidence here that we are making our case. We want to see it happen in Worcestershire.

"We're now working up to GRIP 4, the industry standards, plan to move forward with it and over the next two years I hope to make significant progress."

Last year Network Rail and the Government teamed up to launch a £30 million fund for new stations, but the cash went to rival bids in areas like Bradford and York instead, both of whom had developed the GRIP reports, which include details like passenger forecasts, costings and building scale.

Comments (5)

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10:44am Mon 17 Feb 14

thesquirrel says...

I might be of a different political persuasion to Robin Lunn but I couldn't agree more with him on this point. Getting a fast rail service from Worcester to London needs to be at the top of the agenda.

In 1910 it took 1 hour 50 minutes to travel to London from Worcester. In 2014 it takes 2 hours 30 minutes - if it isn't delayed.

How many people out there are driving to Birmingham International or Warwick Parkway because the Worcester-London service is so slow?
I might be of a different political persuasion to Robin Lunn but I couldn't agree more with him on this point. Getting a fast rail service from Worcester to London needs to be at the top of the agenda. In 1910 it took 1 hour 50 minutes to travel to London from Worcester. In 2014 it takes 2 hours 30 minutes - if it isn't delayed. How many people out there are driving to Birmingham International or Warwick Parkway because the Worcester-London service is so slow? thesquirrel
  • Score: 8

3:10pm Mon 17 Feb 14

skychip says...

Would be a wonderful idea if it came about. Always seems a slow ride to London with hanging around at Charlbury for about 10 minutes.
Would be a wonderful idea if it came about. Always seems a slow ride to London with hanging around at Charlbury for about 10 minutes. skychip
  • Score: 3

5:15pm Mon 17 Feb 14

bmoc55 says...

Agreat idea but it will all come down to economics.

The cost of realigning bridges/roads/tunnel
s etc will have to be weighed against the revenue earnings projections
Agreat idea but it will all come down to economics. The cost of realigning bridges/roads/tunnel s etc will have to be weighed against the revenue earnings projections bmoc55
  • Score: -3

9:05am Tue 18 Feb 14

thesquirrel says...

bmoc55 wrote:
Agreat idea but it will all come down to economics.

The cost of realigning bridges/roads/tunnel

s etc will have to be weighed against the revenue earnings projections
The Cotswold Line was originally a double track. In 1960s as a cost cutting measure under Beeching's plan, certain unprofitable sections of the route were completely removed and some converted to single tracks. As such this would be realigning the existing track and relaying new track - no realigning of bridges/roads/tunnel
s required.
[quote][p][bold]bmoc55[/bold] wrote: Agreat idea but it will all come down to economics. The cost of realigning bridges/roads/tunnel s etc will have to be weighed against the revenue earnings projections[/p][/quote]The Cotswold Line was originally a double track. In 1960s as a cost cutting measure under Beeching's plan, certain unprofitable sections of the route were completely removed and some converted to single tracks. As such this would be realigning the existing track and relaying new track - no realigning of bridges/roads/tunnel s required. thesquirrel
  • Score: 1

1:29pm Tue 18 Feb 14

I'm_not_bitter says...

"In 2014 it takes 2 hours 30 minutes - if it isn't delayed."

You could almost get to Malvern in that time... from Worcester!!

If there's any money about, sort the roads out first and make everybody's daily lives better!
"In 2014 it takes 2 hours 30 minutes - if it isn't delayed." You could almost get to Malvern in that time... from Worcester!! If there's any money about, sort the roads out first and make everybody's daily lives better! I'm_not_bitter
  • Score: -1

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