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New parkway rail station is now 'closer than ever'
WORCESTERSHIRE is closer than ever to getting a new parkway railway station, the county council has insisted.
Peter Blake, head of integrated transport at the council, says he has a "far higher degree of confidence than ever before" that the long-awaited Norton station will get the nod.
As your Worcester News revealed in April, a £7.5 million bid has been made by Worcestershire's Local Enterprise to the Government to get it off the ground.
The council wants to get it started within two years, with the overall cost estimated at £17.1 million.
Mr Blake, speaking during a meeting of the economy, environment and communities scrutiny panel meeting at County Hall, said: "Worcestershire Parkway is an incredibly important scheme, it would serve the south and east of the county.
"A few years ago we went back to the drawing board and said 'we'll do what the railway industry would do to develop this scheme'.
"We are using the same consultants they would use, talking the same language they would use, and as a result of that Network Rail is now on board with what we're trying to do.
"We've now got a far higher degree of confidence than we've ever had before that it will be delivered, but we need that (Government funds) leverage to get it done."
During the meeting councillors said they were getting inpatient over railway investment.
Councillor Paul Tuthill said: "Despite Network Rail spending £80 million on the Oxford line they are not planning to dual track the line to the Cotswolds, which is astonishing when you look at the money they are spending."
Mr Blake said: "What our work on parkway has shown is that if Network Rail won't pick up the baton, we've got to do it for them and provide a business case - we've done that and the figures show that this would work."
Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader and the cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: "This really is the flagship project and it's time to move it forward.
"Frankly, parkway's time has come."
The money would pay for a station facility, booking office, 500 parking spaces, toilets, cycle parking and a bus service ‘drop and collect’ service.
If successful, it would mean Worcestershire can tap into more direct services to London, the South West, South Wales, Birmingham and beyond.
Transport chiefs also say it would allow the county to access many long distance cross country trains currently bypassing Worcestershire.
The council made a bid for £7 million bid to the Government for it back in February, but it was rejected.
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