Shrewsbury may have to wait seven years for a high speed rail link to Wolverhampton, Network Rail bosses revealed today.
The delay could slow down a potential direct rail link from Shropshire to London. Rail bosses have set out plans to electrify large parts of the rail network between 2014 and 2019. But the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton line has not been included in these proposals.
Last week, transport operator FirstGroup announced it intends to reintroduce direct trains between Shropshire and London after winning the franchise for the West Coast Mainline.
However, a direct link from Shrewsbury and Telford to the capital is not expected for another four years.
Today, the leader of Shrewsbury Town Council, Peter Nutting, said without the electrification of the line between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, the service would continue to be slow for passengers.
“While having a direct rail link to London means you haven’t got the changeover, it will not be as beneficial without electrification of the line.
“It will still be a slower connection. We still need electrification for the line if we are serious about people coming to this part of the region,” he said.
Mr Nutting added that he was ‘cautious’ about FirstGroup’s plans for a direct rail link to London.
“It has been tried in the past and it has not been a commercial success.
“This new rail contract may not prove as successful as people think. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”
Parts of the rail network to benefit from electrification between 2014 and 2019 include routes between Coventry and Nuneaton, Southampton Port to Basingstoke and Nottingham to Sheffield.
According to Network Rail, electrifying key routes on the railway will mean faster, greener and more reliable journeys for thousands of passengers.
A spokesman for the Department of Transport said the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton line could be considered for electrification in the future.
He said: “If the rail industry is able to demonstrate a business case for electrification, it could be considered for inclusion in future rail investment programmes.”