Could the old Wellington to Stafford railway line – a victim of the 1960s Beeching axe – be reopened?
The Association of Train Operating Companies wants to open up 14 lines and 40 stations around the country, serving more than a million extra passengers.
And one possibility is to bring back to life the old railway line which runs alongside the A518 to Newport and on to the West Coast Main Line at Stafford.
Supporters say this could link to the newly-opened Donnington railfreight terminal, give Newport its own station again, provide fast links to Scotland and the north west and bring huge benefits to Shropshire.
A new report by ATOC argues that rail passenger numbers soared to the highest ever peacetime level last year and there is a strong business case for refurbishing and reopening old routes.
The Beeching report by Dr Richard Beeching in the 1960s cut the railway network by a third, closing 2,000 stations and 5,000 miles of track.
But with a new emphasis on “green” transport and regular gridlock on Britain’s roads, there are growing demands for more money to be pumped into railways.
Although the Stafford-Wellington line is not among the 14 main schemes evaluated by ATOC, it is identified as a “physically feasible” potential link line.
Russell Mulford, president of Shropshire Railway Society, said: “The old Shrewsbury to Stafford service should not have been closed in the 1960s and it would never have happened today.
“It was a well-used line and Newport had a very substantial station which has since been levelled.
“Reopening the line would definitely be feasible, with a bit of deviation to take account of the new A518.”
Transport Minister Chris Mole said the Government would consider the report.
- Interested parties are invited to respond by July 31 to Russ Cunningham, ATOC’s head of rail planning, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
By Peter Johnson