The bid for £1.5 million of funding to develop a full business case has been supported by MPs along the Cotswold Line and was highlighted in a debate in Westminster last week, attended by Worcester MP Robin Walker.

The Cotswold Line Taskforce is developing a plan to dual two sections of line – four miles towards Oxford and five miles between Evesham and Pershore – and add station platforms at Pershore and Hanborough. The project aims to further improve journey times for commuters travelling to London and the South East.

Earlier this month, a letter signed by Worcestershire MPs Harriett Baldwin, Nigel Huddleston and Robin Walker, Herefordshire MPs Jesse Norman and Bill Wiggin, and Cotswolds MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown to the Secretary of State for Transport formally supporting the bid.

Robin has long campaigned for a faster and more regular service between Worcester and London. He raised the issue of faster train services in his maiden speech and has pressed Transport and Treasury Ministers as well as meeting regularly with the management of Great Western Railway.

After years of campaigning, Robin welcomed in October last year the announcement by Great Western Railway that trains on the route between Worcester and London will complete the journey in under two hours before the end of 2019.

He has also consistently backed the 30-year campaign for Worcestershire Parkway, a new station for the county which delivered just outside Worcester and he is looking forward to the first trains stopping there, which will allow thousands of Worcester constituents to access the railway. Robin has also met with Ian Baxter, rail consultant and former Chairman of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group to discuss the project. 

Speaking from Westminster Hall , Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP said:

“Relative to other regions, this is still a slow journey. The journey from Worcester to London, for example, which is 120 miles, has an end-to-end speed of just 57 mph, compared with the speed from equivalent towns such as Leamington Spa, at 76 mph; Bath, at 77 mph; Swindon, at a very fast 84 mph; and Rugby, at 99 mph. This is a slow service at the moment, and much could be done to improve it.”

Speaking after the debate, Harriett Baldwin MP commented: 

“I was pleased with the Government’s response and hope that the business case leads to support from both the Department for Transport and the Treasury ahead of this year’s Budget. This debate has the support of all of the MPs who represent constituencies serviced by the line and local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships have been closely involved in the planning.”

“The line will soon see a brand-new station at Worcestershire Parkway and what we now need is some extra dualling to deliver faster, more frequent, more reliable services for Worcestershire commuters.”

“It has been a challenge that Worcestershire MPs have taken up for decades and I hope that we are a step closer to delivering on this long-term ambition.”

Minister of State at the Department for Transport, Chris Heaton Harris said:

“I see that the Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my hon. Friend Mr Walker, is in Westminster Hall this afternoon—and London coming in at under two hours, which is what everybody should expect of a modern-day railway.”

ENDS 

Notes to Editors

For the full transcript of the debate, please see: 

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-01-22/debates/88C42150-6CD6-49E9-BF68-16AE39F55D22/WestminsterHall#contribution-E250939F-9349-4224-BF13-B62CCE7D15A0

For Robin’s previous campaigns for faster services see:

https://www.walker4worcester.com/?s=trains

https://www.walker4worcester.com/2018/04/worcester-mp-meets-with-great-western-to-push-for-service-improvements/

https://www.walker4worcester.com/2018/01/worcesters-transport-on-track-under-the-conservatives-at-risk-from-labour/

https://www.walker4worcester.com/2016/02/businesses-must-speak-out-now-to-strengthen-case-for-fast-track-worcester/