Businesses must speak out now to strengthen case for Fast Track Worcester

Worcester’s MP, Robin Walker, has called on local businesses, councils, the Chamber and the LEP to work together to put forward the strongest possible case for improvements to Worcester’s rail service after an exciting conference held in the Prime Minister’s Witney Constituency showed that further upgrades were achievable and likely. The Friday before last he joined representatives from across Oxfordshire and Worcestershire at a conference to hear about Great Western Railway’s plans for the North Cotswold Line and to get feedback from the business community. He was joined there by Simon Geraghty. Leader of Worcestershire County Council, Mark Stansfield, Chairman of the Worcestershire LEP, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, the chairman of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group and representatives from District Councils, the Chamber and local businesses from across the County.

GWR set out their plans and ambitions for the railway including first and hourly and then a twice hourly service for Worcester, the inclusion of Worcestershire Parkway Station in their timetables and a journey time of under two hours between London Paddington and first of all Parkway, but later the Worcester city centre stations. Robin has long argued for such a two hour service and has made the case that it would boost business and tourism not just of the city of Worcester but for the whole County.

The Prime Minister himself dropped into the meeting to show his support and endorsed the 1-2-3 strategy being put forward by GWR which would see 1 train every hour between Malvern and London, 2 between Worcester and the capital and 3 from Hanborough station in his own constituency and the capital.

The train company has suggested that in order to deliver such an improvement in service they need to secure further redoubling between Oxford and Worcester but instead of the full redoubling that would cost hundreds of millions of pounds more for little extra benefit, they are pressing proposals for partial redoubling that would deliver most of the benefits at only a part of the cost. Robin wants to help them gather the evidence to make the strongest possible case for this and is encouraging all businesses, organisations and public bodies in Worcester to make submissions of what difference it would make.

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director GWR commenting after the Conference said “Rail is a major driver behind future development with an improved service key to boosting economic activity, creating and retaining jobs and bringing international and regional markets within easy reach. GWR have a number of improvements already committed through to December 2018, including brand new trains and a new station at Worcestershire Parkway, I am delighted that we have also been able to set out the potential for more improvements including faster and more frequent services for Worcester beyond 2018”

Commenting Robin said:

“I am delighted to see GWR committing to what I have always campaigned for, a faster more reliable service between world class Worcestershire and the capital. It takes far too long to get to Worcester on the direct service from London and as a result I know that they are losing customer to travel via Birmingham or Warwick Parkway. We now have a chance to put forward a cast iron case for a better service, one that they support and which I believe the Government can help to make work. We have come a long way from the days of a nationalised British rail that not only tore up the double track between Oxford and Worcester but once considered scrapping our direct service altogether.”

“It was brilliant to see the universal support for these service improvements and I believe a strong case can be made to Government for the investment necessary. What is needed now is for every business to speak up so that the business case can be delivered. I would encourage as many businesses as possible to contact either GWR directly, me or their membership organisations in order to strengthen this case and I am looking forward to working with Councils, the LEP, the FSB and the Chamber to get it delivered. The campaign to Fast Track Worcester has never had a better opportunity.”

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of GWR commenting after the Conference said:

“Rail is a major driver behind future development with an improved service key to boosting economic activity, creating and retaining jobs and bringing international and regional markets within easy reach. GWR have a number of improvements already committed through to December 2018, including brand new trains and a new station at Worcestershire Parkway, I am delighted that we have also been able to set out the potential for more improvements including faster and more frequent services for Worcester beyond 2018”

 

Notes to Editors:

Local businesses in Worcester who wish to pass on their support for the business case should contact:

Robin can also relay business cases and can be contacted via: robin.walker.mp@parliament.uk

Businesses can also contact Great Western directly through Regional Manager, Tom Pierpoint who can be contacted at tom.pierpoint@gwr.com

Details of the conference on Friday 12th February:

The conference was organised by GWR and took place at the Witney Lakes Resort it brought together a number of business organisations, representative bodies and politicians from across Worcestershire and Oxfordshire. It was chaired by Lord Faulkner of Worcester and heard from Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of Great Western Railways and David Cameron, the Prime Minister and local MP for Witney. Robin Walker spoke at the conference to support a faster service and push for the acceleration of GWR’s commitments.

For further information see:

https://www.gwr.com/about-us/media-centre/news/2016/february/prime-minister-welcomes-shared-vision-for-future-of-rail-in-north-cotswolds

Committed improvements by December 2018 from Great Western are to:

  • An hourly service between Worcester and London
  • Additional peak services
  • New trains with more capacity
  • Faster journeys: Hanborough to Paddington in 1 hour and 3 minutes

Worcester to Paddington in 2 hours.

  • More station and car park improvements

The business case vision aims to:

  • Give better connectivity from Worcester to London and Heathrow
  • Provide better recruitment and retention for Great Western and by doing so providing more jobs for the county
  • Generate more visits to drive the tourism economy
  • Reduce congestion in Oxford, Worcester, and the strategic highway network
  • Encourage support for further housing development
  • Promote social inclusion

Robin’s previous releases and information on #FastTrackWorcester can be found here:

http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-welcomes-commitments-from-great-western-keeps-up-push-for-fasttrack-worcester-campaign/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/robin-walker-speaks-up-for-faster-rail-service-at-pmqs/

http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-welcomes-conservative-plan-to-freeze-regulated-rail-fares/

Robin has spoken up for a better service for Worcester on a number of occasions and held a dedicated debate on the matter with rail Minister Claire Perry, details of which can be found here:

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=11488c33cf4fdf7fba6262ef48c32333

http://www.walker4worcester.com/two-hour-service-from-worcester-to-london-one-step-closer-as-walker-questions-transport-minister/

The Prime Minister has previously supported efforts to improve the line and details can be found here:

http://www.walker4worcester.com/articles/view_detail.php?id=73b036fdf59b4c4df681cb242d8cf13c