6th Dec, 2016

Direct trains to second city are real possibility for the Vale

Joshua Godfrey 24th Jan, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

TRAIN journey times between Evesham and Birmingham could be slashed to under an hour if a six-mile section of railway line is reinstated, according to campaigners.

The Stratford-Worcester-Oxford (SWO) group are calling on train bosses and council chiefs to restore the line between Stratford and Honeybourne and claim doing so would give Evesham commuters a direct route to England’s second city, rather than having to change at Worcester.

Currently it can take up to two hours to reach Birmingham, but if the line is reinstated the journey time could be cut to about 58 minutes.

Campaigners say this would boost Evesham’s economy and ease the traffic congestion on the town’s roads as commuters would have an alternative to driving to work.

Fraser Pithie, a campaigner from SWO, told the Observer: “It would be exciting for Evesham. It would allow people to get to Birmingham in just under an hour.

“A direct service to Birmingham could open up new markets and jobs.

“Also it would enable a lot of people to not use their car; it gives them a different option and could lower the amount of traffic.

“People would want to come to Evesham and visit the town; it would open up a whole range of possibilities.”

Evesham Town Council has backed the plans, with Worcestershire County Council also throwing their weight behind the campaigners.

However, it’s estimated the major project could cost up to £60million, but CALA Homes who are planning to build over 3,000 houses in Long Marston, have claimed they can stump up at least £17million for the railway work.

Coun Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure said:

“Reinstatement of the railway line between Honeybourne and Stratford-Upon-Avon is within Worcestershire’s Local Transport Plan, but is currently being led by Warwickshire County Council.

“Reinstating this line would bring many benefits to Worcestershire, including easing traffic congestion and boosting the economy, and as such, we will continue to support and assist Warwickshire County Council wherever possible.”