A DIRECT 60-minute rail service between Evesham and Birmingham via Stratford upon Avon may become a reality after council chiefs agreed to examine the proposals.
Worcestershire County Council is leading a £10,000 study funded by nine organisations that will consider the Economic Impact (EIS) of reopening the railway between Honeybourne on the Cotswold main line and Stratford upon Avon that was closed in 1976.
The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group and Cotswold Line Promotion Group, both who represent rail users, have joined forces as the transport issue has grown in importance with local people.
The increase in housing just over the county border in nearby Mickleton, North Gloucestershire and Honeybourne in East Worcestershire has already led to Cotswold Line stations at Honeybourne and Moreton in Marsh experiencing the number of passenger journeys grow well above the national average with a lack of car parking having become a real problem for people wishing to use the train.
The EIS would compliment a larger and more comprehensive examination, known as a GRIP 4 study, that would need to take place to consider the infrastructure and feasibility of reinstating the rail line.
The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group and Cotswold Line Promotion Group, both who represent rail users, have joined forces in calling for a GRIP 4 study.
If the line were to reopen stations along the Cotswold Line would benefit by getting a direct service to and from Stratford upon Avon enabling connections to Solihull, Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Evesham would be able to use a direct train service taking just one hour to the UK’s second city.
Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire County Councils all support the re-opening while the groups hope the new study will persuade Warwickshire County Council to join the campaign.
Reinstating the railway between Stratford upon Avon and Honeybourne would also enable a new rail service providing connectivity between Stratford upon Avon, Oxford, Reading and London Paddington.
Fraser Pithie, secretary of the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group said: “We welcome Worcestershire County Council leading the EIS and the other stakeholders helping to fund the study.
“Proper consideration of a scheme that could reduce vehicular traffic and congestion on rural roads in the villages of North Gloucestershire, East Worcestershire and South Warwickshire, is crucial in the face of proposed housing numbers.
“A potential 60-minute direct rail service between Evesham and Birmingham would also be a major boost to the Vale and a 45-minute direct rail journey between a new Long Marston Parkway and Birmingham would reduce work/home journeys,” he added.