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PM backs Stratford-Honeybourne train line

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Wellesbourne Airfield
Wellesbourne Airfield

“If you want to get rail investment, you need to have confidence, you need to have ambition, and you need a compelling case, and I think the three things you need are coming together here.”

The document, A Joint Vision for the North Cotswold Line, has been drawn up by train operator the Great Western Railway.

Its aim is to lobby all interested parties, local authorities and LEPs to consider what they would like to see regarding further expansion of Cotswold Line services to meet the year-on-year and above the national average passenger growth experienced along the line.

It was agreed to set up a Steering Group to take the proposals forward which include the reopening of the Stratford to Honeybourne link by 2024.

Once a consensus view can be reached it's hoped the vision will form the basis of a business case by Great Western Railway and asset operator Network Rail as part of their investment plans.

The Stratford to Honeybourne line would give Stratford direct connections with Oxford, London and Worcester, while Evesham would be able to have a direct service to and from Birmingham taking just one hour.

Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire County Councils all support the re-opening, while Stratford-on-Avon District Council has submitted an 'expression of interest' in bidding for £500,000 from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership to fund a new feasibility study.

Fraser Pithie, from the Stratford-Worcester-Oxford (SWO) group, set up to promote the development of the line, said: " We are encouraged by the vision and that Great Western Railway can see the potential for re-opening Stratford-Honeybourne providing there is local support for it.

"We are confident that real local support exists because a majority of local parish and town councils have confirmed to us they support the reopening of the line."

SWO says Evesham Town Council, Chipping Campden Town Council, Mickleton Parish Council (PC) Pebworth PC, Bidford on Avon PC, Aston Cantlow PC, Henley in Arden and Beaudesert Joint PC, and Honeybourne PC all support reopening the Stratford to Honeybourne line.

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