New rail station ‘could just be a white elephant’

First published in News

WORCESTER could get a new multi-million pound railway station, but it could turn into a "white elephant" an expert has warned.

The idea to build a Worester Parkway station was first mooted more than 30 years ago, but local authorities are seeing it as a way of reducing potential traffic congestion after the Government announced that it wants to build 16,800 new homes in the Faithful City.

The location of the station would be at the intersection of the Birmingham to Bristol and Worcester to London lines at Norton.

This means that passengers could travel directly from Worcester to London, Edinburgh or Penzance without having to change at either Cheltenham or Birmingham.

It is believed the new parkway station would include park-and-ride facilities and Worcestershire County Council has already set aside about £3m to put towards the cost.

However, the approval of the project would depend on an agreement between the Government and train operating companies First Great Western and Virgin.

John Seddon, environmental services policy and strategy manager at the county council, said: "We know we can't fund it all ourselves but we have shown our commitment to it. There are issues over who would manage the station and who would own it and, of course, we have got to get planning permission but that is the next chunk."

However, Derek Potter, the chairman of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group, was sceptical about whether building a new station would be justified. He said: "Even if we say there are a lot of people in Worcester who would like to travel on the trains, the train operators say they can change at Cheltenham and Birmingham.

"I don't see any evidence that they're saying, we really want to stop at Worcestershire Parkway Station'. It could become a white elephant.

"But if it does happen I am almost certain that it will mean the end of Worcester Shrub Hill station because the train operators won't want to stop at Worcester Parkway, Worcester Shrub Hill, Worcester Foregate Street and then Hereford.

"I might be wrong and in a few years' time there might be a nice shiny new station there, but I wouldn't put my pension on it."

However, the MP for Mid-Worcestershire, Peter Luff, said the plans were vital if Worcester wants to expand.

"We have got to get the transport side of things absolutely right," he said.

"Worcester Parkway is already very desirable given the current levels of demand. But if all of these homes are going to be built then it goes from being highly desirable to absolutely essential, otherwise Worcester will be in danger of coming to a grinding, creaking halt."

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