THE train operator that runs services on the Cotswold line linking Worcestershire and Herefordshire with Oxford and London is set to produce a manifesto setting out priorities for its future development.

Mark Hopwood, managing director of First Great Western, which is changing its name to Great Western Railway on Sunday, said a manifesto would would provide a clear strategy for better train services and stations.

Among the proposals are redoubling more of the line, introducing hourly services to and from London and bringing in more modern trains to make the journey in under two hours.

Mr Hopwood was speaking at the Houses of Parliament, organised by Lord Faulkner of Worcester, president of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group and attended by Rail Minister Claire Perry, local MPs and representatives of councils and local enterprise partnerships.

He said: “There is a clear consensus about what people want to see in terms of the long-term development of the route and maybe now is the time for us to put pen to paper and produce a manifesto for the route that everybody can sign up to. Then the Department for Transport will have real clarity on what the community is looking for in terms of strategy in the future.”

Lord Faulkner said “Mark Hopwood’s very welcome proposal for a Cotswold Line manifesto was one of many positive ideas and comments made at what was a remarkably well-attended meeting.

“I was particularly encouraged by Great Western’s wish to deliver an hourly service between Worcester, Oxford and London, and I hope that when the new express trains are introduced in 2017 it will be possible to combine a frequent stopping service with faster services which reach Worcester in under two hours from London.”

The meeting heard calls for more double track on the line, which would enable more trains to run and improve punctuality.

Mr Hopwood said he would welcome such a move, especially with the growth in passengers. The number of people travelling to and from London on the route had risen by 9.8 per cent in the past year, well ahead of the 5.9 per cent growth rate nationally.

CLPG chairman John Ellis called for urgent action to improve the railways through Worcester. He said: “The infrastructure at Worcester is one of the biggest constraints we have on both the capacity and reliability of the service. At the moment we’re seeing nothing is going to be changed, either track or signalling, until perhaps the late 2020s. I would urge you all to give serious thought to ways in which we can improve the totally deficient infrastructure that exists at the moment.”