HOPES of a new rail station for Worcestershire have had a huge boost after the Government backed the idea of services from Norton.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has finally showed its hand over Norton Parkway, saying there is a “positive financial and economic case” for it.
It has also urged Worcestershire County Council to continue working on the idea, which has been 30 years in the making.
Norton Parkway would give Worcestershire access to long-distance trains currently bypassing the area, including Birmingham to London services.
The DfT is inviting bids from train operators to run the Cotswold Line, which goes from Worcester to London, from 2013-2028.
A document published for the benefit of operators mentions Norton Parkway for the first time. It says the bidders are being asked to talk to council chiefs over the possibility of running extra services from a new, third station at Norton.
City MP Robin Walker said: “There is clearly a financial case for Norton Parkway and it’s great the information is now being shared with all parties. We need to show the train operating companies this station would be worth the effort – and clearly it would.
“I know the county council has strengthened the business case in recent years and I’m delighted we’ve got to this stage as we all want to see it happen.”
First Great Western, GW Trains, National Express and Stagecoach have been shortlisted as the four bidders for the Cotswold Line, with a winner due to be announced in October.
All have been shown data on Norton Parkway.
If the council can get funding to build the station “at some point during the life of the franchise”, the Cotswold Line operator should look at using it, says the DfT document.
How the station will be paid for is undecided, but the onus will be on the operator to pay most of the costs, with money from the Government and council.
County council deputy leader Councillor Simon Geraghty said: “We’re clearly at the stage now where the case is being made very strongly.”