Worcestershire County Council’s Planning & Regulatory Committee granted planning permission for the new Worcestershire Parkway Regional Interchange Railway Station last month (25 August).
Groundwork for the £22 million station, which will link the Cotswolds and Birmingham to Bristol lines, is scheduled to begin by the spring of next year and open in autumn 2017.
Worcestershire Parkway Railway Station will be situated just outside of Worcester City, close to Junction 7 of the M5 near Norton.
The project is identified as a key priority through the county’s Strategic Economic Plan, which is aiming to create 25,000 new jobs in Worcestershire by 2025 along with boosting GVA (Gross Value Added) by almost £3billion.
It also has the backing of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the area’s MPs, Network Rail and Train Operating Companies First Great Western and Arriva CrossCountry, all local authorities, Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce and local businesses.
Feedback from a public engagement exercise last year showed further support for the scheme. 91 per cent of people surveyed stated that they supported the plans, which aim to improve the county’s accessibility by rail, cut journey times to key locations including London and reduce road congestion.
The station is comprised of a single platform on the Worcester to London line and two platforms on the Birmingham to Bristol line, together with a new station building including a booking office, toilets and shop. It will also have 500 car parking spaces (including disabled provision), bus stops, a taxi rank and a passenger drop-off area. The station will be fully accessible to less mobile visitors and those with disabilities.
Last year, the Worcestershire LEP provisionally allocated £7.5million from the Worcestershire Local Growth Deal towards a new station. The remainder of the funds (around £14million) is expected to come from the County Council. The Council’s contribution will be recouped through car park and station access charges levied on the Train Operating Companies.
Cllr John Smith OBE, Worcestershire County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “The decision is great news for residents and businesses and means we can now start work on making the new Worcestershire Parkway Railway Station a reality.
“The County Council recognises how important a reliable and robust transport infrastructure is to the local economy, which is why we are committed to continuing to invest in this key area through several major projects including Worcestershire Parkway.
“As well as reducing journey times and congestion, the station will improve rail accessibility and connectivity with the rest of the country. In turn this will attract inward investment and create new jobs.”
Gary Woodman, Executive Director of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We know the difference that improved rail connectivity will make to the County’s long term economy and therefore, we prioritised Worcestershire Parkway Railway Station for funding through our Growth Deal.
“The decision is great news for businesses. It was recently announced that Worcestershire was the third fastest growing economy in England between 2008 – 2013 and improving our transport networks is vital to ensure future growth. Stronger rail connectivity will complement many other infrastructure and transport improvements taking place in the coming years, provide businesses with better links to and from London and other cities and is yet another reason for companies to locate in the County.
“We will now work to increase the awareness of the need for the redoubling of the Cotswold Line which alongside the new station would bring a number of benefits, for example faster journey times to London.”
For further information about the Worcestershire Parkway Railway Station project visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk/parkway.