THE deputy leader of Worcestershire County Council has insisted that a long-awaited £17 million railway station near Worcester will not wreck services at Foregate Street.

During a passionate defence of the Norton Parkway project, Councillor Simon Geraghty rejected fears Network Rail will be unable to support three stations so close to each other.

Your Worcester News can also reveal how the council is coming under pressure to make Worcestershire Parkway a park and ride site too, but says there are no plans to make it happen.

The station is on track to open in 2017, opening up access to cross country lines currently inaccessible from Worcestershire, saving an estimated 5.4 million miles of car journeys to the Warwick parkway station and Birmingham.

But it will mean with Foregate Street and Shrub Hill, Worcester will have three stations all close to each other.

Labour Councillor Richard Udall, speaking during a full council meeting, said: "I am glad that parkway is happening, it's been supported by successive councils and we've all been trying to achieve it for many years.

"But I'd like some assurances over what is being done to protect Foregate Street - is that now at risk because of Network Rail's inability to support three stations in the Worcester area?"

Fellow Labour Councillor Paul Denham then said Worcestershire Parkway would be even better if it had park and rides running from it.

"I am sure most of us will be excited about this, but during a presentation I went to recently I was disappointed about no park and ride," he said.

"When people get off the platform and want to visit areas like Malvern, Pershore or Evesham they'll have to get another train there."

He said there is "a real opportunity" to get park and rides running from the new site.

Cllr Geraghty, who is also cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: "This is obviously a flagship project for the county council.

"There has been no risk identified by Network Rail to existing railway stations.

"This is about an additional railway station to serve as a gateway into Worcestershire."

He said parkway is "not a park and ride site", saying it was "not the intention" to meet that request.

"We are confident the business case for this station stacks up, we must all get behind it otherwise we'll lose a once in a generation opportunity," he added.

The Government has agreed to stump up £7.5 million for the facility, with the remaining £10 million coming from the council.

A 500-space car park forms part of the proposals, with the potential to increase the number of spaces to 1,000.