Shrewsbury commuters back Star's London Link campaign

Commuters in Shrewsbury have thrown their weight behind the Shropshire Star's London Link campaign – claiming it is vital the town gets a direct rail connection to the capital as soon as possible.

Shrewsbury commuters back Star's London Link campaign

People passing through Shrewsbury Railway Station yesterday all spoke out in favour of a direct link being re-established, saying it would help the local economy.

More than 1,000 people have already signed the Shropshire Star's online petition backing the link.

  • To sign up to the petition, click here

  • Shropshire Star petition for direct rail link to London

Katie Anderson, 49, from Copthorne in Shrewsbury, said a direct link would benefit the town's future.

"I think it will be a real benefit for the town. At the moment, it takes two-and-a-half to three hours to get to London and if you are unlucky with the changes it takes longer," she said.

Katie Anderson

The idea was also supported by Ray Pullen, 28, from Welshpool, who was waiting for his connection at Shrewsbury Railway Station after recently returning from a trip to New Zealand.

He said the lack of a direct link between London and Shropshire meant that his journey back from the airport had been considerably extended by waiting for extensions.

"I have had to wait around for an hour at Birmingham and an hour here for at Shrewsbury to get to Welshpool," he said.

"I left London at 7 or 8am and I'm still not in Welshpool at 1pm."

He said that the link would encourage more people in Shropshire to use the train.

He added: "It would encourage a lot of people to go to London."

Ray Pullen

Graham Sheldon, 35, and Chris McVetis, 44, both from Shrewsbury, also both agreed that the link would be positive for the town.

Mr McVetis said: "It would make more sense and bring more people to Shrewsbury if you can get to London. In the long-run, it is much better. It would being more money into Shrewsbury."

The idea of the direct rail link also won support from staff at the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse in Castle Gates, which is just metres away from the station entrance.

Simon Glover, assistant manager of the coffee shop, said the store gets regular custom from rail passengers which it would expect to increase if a regular direct service to London was established.

He added that he would also make use of such a link himself.

"London has got so many things going on, including a very big coffee scene," he said. Virgin Trains is hoping to reestablish a direct service between Shropshire and London by May next year and are preparing to submit a fresh bid to Network Rail.

Its last plans were blocked by Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation over concerns that the West Coast Main Line cannot yet cope with extra services.

But Virgin believe that planned £40 million improvements to the route due to be completed by March will improve standards and allow the new link to be established.

The Shropshire Star's petition will be presented to officials from the ORR when they meet with county MPs about the issue of Shropshire's rail link in September.

Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski will also present a formally-worded version of the petition to the House of Commons, urging the Department of Transport and the ORR to work with Network Rail and the train operators to ensure a regular and direct service from Shrewsbury to London is established as soon as possible.

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