Minister will hear rail case

Thursday 06 December 2012 Updated: 07/12 12:50

TRANSPORT minister Simon Burns will consider calls for improvements to Cotswold Line rail services after meeting with a delegation of MPs including Worcester’s Robin Walker.

MPs from Worcestershire joined some of their Westminster colleagues from Herefordshire in making the case for an improved service between London and the two counties to the minister on Tuesday (December 4).

The route takes in the Cotswold Line which is partly single-track and blighted by problems of overcrowded trains and infrequent services.

Mr Walker, Worcestershire MPs Peter Luff and Harriett Baldwin and their Herefordshire counterparts Jesse Norman and Bill Wiggin signed a joint letter calling for ‘a faster and more frequent train service,’ as well as criticising the franchise tender documents published last July for ‘a lack of ambition’.

The group met with Mr Burns at the House of Commons and described the meeting as ‘useful’ but Mr Walker said they needed to keep up the pressure.

“Re-signalling in the Worcester stations and redoubling down the line to Oxford could give us a service that would compete much better with lines such as Chiltern and the West Coast Mainline,” Mr Walker said.

“It is crazy that so many of my constituents have to drive to Birmingham or Warwick Parkway to get a fast train to London.”

Mrs Baldwin said the minister could not believe how poorly served residents were by the current rail infrastructure.

“While he made it clear the current franchise process is frozen, with the four bids in sealed envelopes, he was receptive to the case we made for better infrastructure,” she added.

Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff said he was pleased the minister understood the case for a new Worcestershire Parkway station.

“This project seems to be tantalisingly close to becoming a reality thanks to the hard work of the county council. Now we have to persuade Network Rail to give it their full support,” he added.

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