County MPs to meet rail boss on city link
Shropshire's MPs will put on a united front when they take the campaign for a direct rail link from the county to London to the Government next week.
The five county MPs will meet Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin next Wednesday after Network Rail blocked government-backed plans to introduce the link from December.
Virgin had hoped to run the service but Network Rail blocked the proposal earlier this month due to the "knock-on effect" it could have to other services on the West Coast Main Line.
Conservatives Owen Paterson, Mark Pritchard, Daniel Kawczynski and Philip Dunne will be joined by Labour's David Wright to present the county's case.
Mr Pritchard, Wrekin MP, said: "I am glad that transport ministers are as upset as Shropshire's MPs, residents, and businesses, following Network Rail's attempts to block this vital direct rail service.
"I will be calling on the Transport Secretary to get Network Rail to overturn its decision as soon as possible."
Mr Wright, MP for Telford, said: "We will be pressing the cause for a direct link and ensuring the transport secretary is well aware of how important it is for Telford and the wider Shropshire area."
Mr Dunne, Ludlow MP, said he would be "seeking the transport secretary's advice on how best to secure capacity for a London to Shropshire direct link".
Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Mr Kawczynski and North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson were unavailable for comment today.
But previously Mr Kawczynski has tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on Network Rail to reverse its decision, while Mr Paterson has said he hoped it would only be a delay and not the end of the issue.
Meanwhile, lobby group Campaign for Rail, based in the West Midlands, warned that if the row was not resolved in the next few weeks then Shropshire rail passengers would continue to have no direct rail service to the capital for the foreseeable future.
And it said Mr McLoughlin must intervene if the two companies cannot come to an agreement, adding that both should be focusing on the interests of rail users.
The service would have seen two trains running each way between Shrewsbury and London every day, stopping at Wellington and Telford, and passing through Stafford.
Don Barton, chairman of Campaign for Rail, said: "Shropshire is the only county in England without a direct rail link to London. It is not a rural backwater, it is a major tourist destination and, of course, there is a need to encourage new businesses and industries to locate in the county."
Virgin is to appeal Network Rail's decision.
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