Increasing hopes of new Ironbridge Gorge rail link
Government money to reopen old railway lines could pave the way for trains to run again through the Ironbridge Gorge.
The Department of Transport is exploring opportunities to bring back some of the routes axed by the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.
Now Eric Carter, Newport councillor and chairman of the Marches Strategic Rail Group, says the news is an ideal opportunity to fund the project to reconnect the line that ran from the Ironbridge Power Station to Telford.
He revealed that talks have already been held between the rail group and the company that has bought the former power station site, development company Harworth Group.
Councillor Carter said he hoped the government team behind the national plans would see the potential in unlocking the track.
He said: “The line has been used in recent years to carry firstly coal and then bio-fuel into the power station.
"Of course there would need to be work to make it right for passenger trains and there would probably be need for work on bridges and other structures.
“But the route is there and the track is still there. It is an ideal opportunity to bring a passenger railway into the gorge.”
The councillor, who worked for British Rail in the past, said getting a passenger operating licence for the rail line would bring a massive boost.
“The line would run from Telford station through Stafford Park, Madeley and Coalbrookdale to the power station,” he said.
“Stafford Park has the jobs, Madeley has the local population and of course there is the tourism in the gorge itself. The rail line would join everything together.”
He said that the plans for the power station site included business, retail and housing.
“The rail group has talked to the development company, which has a proven track record in regeneration sites such as the former coal fields in Yorkshire. It is interested in the potential for the reopening of the line.”
One of the ideas is for a park and ride sitting alongside the railway station.
Councillor Carter said: “There is a dreadful parking problem in the gorge and a park and ride would mean tourists could travel by train from Telford or from the power station park and ride. It would help take cars out of the gorge and traffic off the road in general.”
He pointed out that Bicester village in Oxfordshire has a similar park and ride on the Chiltern line.
Local councillor Nicola Lowery is also in favour of the plan.
She said: “I maintain my support for ambitions to reintroduce a rail link into the site as this really does provide a unique opportunity to improve our sustainable transport links.”
Last year transport secretary Chris Grayling encouraged those in the public and private sector to submit proposals for potential projects to regenerate old lines.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “We are continuing to grow the rail network to deliver improvements for passengers, unlock new housing and support the economy, including by exploring opportunities to restore previously lost capacity.
“We have received a wide variety of proposals to enhance the railway from across the public and private sector, and are working with promoters to explore opportunities to re-open routes cut under Beeching.