SIR – Transport secretary Chris Grayling’s conversion to reopen rail lines and stations closed under Beeching needs urgently to extend to improving services from existing stations where usage is steadily improving – boosted by major housing growth - but which are now under threat.

Year on year passenger growth continues at Pershore (3.2 per cent) and Honeybourne (2.5 per cent) in recently released official figures for 2016/7 outstripping the performance of other main stations between Worcester and Oxford where growth appears to have stalled – or declined.

However services from both stations are under threat from our County Council’s pursuance of a two hour timing for trains between Worcester (Parkway) and Oxford and the train company’s belief that this cannot be achieved – even with the introduction of new fast trains – without missing out calls at existing stations served.

The last major Cotswold Line timetable upgrade with new trains in 2004/5 saw the same company’s trains achieving a timing of just over two hours between Worcester (Shrub Hill) and London and that included calls at both Pershore and Honeybourne.

Twelve years later journey times are now taking up to two-anda-half hours.

This is despite the introduction of 20 miles of double track in 2011 allowing the early introduction of a reliable regular interval hourly service for the whole route and the existing stations served - and which is still awaited.

Mr Grayling is quoted as saying: “People say which is my priority: spend a billion pounds to shave a minute off journey times or reopen some lines so we get a better service for people? I would go for the latter any day of the week.”

The growing number of commuters from both Pershore and Honeybourne deserve better and should be able to join in the benefits of a reliable and regular interval hourly London service from January 2019 - and this would only cost a few thousand pounds easily made up in increased revenue.

These trains should not be under threat merely to shave a minute or two off journey times from Worcester.

Julian Palfrey

Chairman, Vale Public Transport Group