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Railway link between Shrewsbury and Stafford makes 'more sense than ever' because of Newport innovation park

By Mat Growcott | Newport | News | Published:

Reinstating the railway line between Shrewsbury and Stafford makes more sense than ever due to Newport's new multi-million pound NI Park, it has been claimed.

Councillor Eric Carter

Rail users currently have to travel as far as Crewe or Wolverhampton to make the trip between Shrewsbury and Stafford, which as the crow flies are only about 27 miles (44km) apart.

Mark Pritchard, Wrekin MP, wrote to Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris calling for the railway between the two towns to be reinstated as part of the Government’s £20 million New Stations Fund - part of the £500 million package to reverse the Beeching cuts.

Now Councillor Eric Carter, chairman of the Marches Strategic Rail Group, has renewed his call for the work to be carried out.

"It's possible to do," he said. "There's not anything that can't be overcome with the right amount of investment.

"I'm pleased Mark Pritchard has put this before the minister. With what's happening with the NI Park, the area lends itself to a railway station. With the amount of jobs and creativity coming, it's the right place to have it."

Homes have been built on parts of the old line, so the route will have to be changed.

But Councillor Carter, who also represents Newport on Telford & Wrekin Council, said that solving the problem would be worth it in the long term.

"There are always possibilities if you've got the investment for it," he said. "When you're spending on HS2, which I'm not against, we need to open some of the redundant lines from the Beeching days.

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"Given the opportunity it is time to reconnect. It's something I've been campaigning for. People said it was never going to happen, but I'm a believer of vision. It's not whether it happened next year or even in my lifetime, but for the future."

Speaking about his letter, Mr Pritchard said it was essential that Newport has its own station with regular passenger services.

"I will be encouraging Ministers to support Shropshire’s economy by re-opening this vital rail link," he said.

The NI Park on the edge of Newport could create up to 950 jobs when it's finished.

The innovation hub will provide high value jobs to Newport and the local area, as well as attracting hi-tech businesses to the area.

The development is supported by Telford & Wrekin Council, the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and Harper Adams University.

Mat Growcott

By Mat Growcott
Reporter - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter

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