Power station site railway ‘would make Ironbridge Gorge not just for tourism’
Commuters should be able to travel to work across Telford via the reinstated railway line at Ironbridge, a councillor has said.
Councillor Eric Carter, chairman of the Marches Strategic Rail Group, said there were a number of opportunities available to Network Rail if passenger trains come back to the Gorge as part of the Ironbridge Power Station development.
He also said heritage railways would benefit from the trip, and could create Telford's own 'Severn Valley Railway'.
Harworth, which owns the power station site, has said a new rail connection is central to its redevelopment plans. That includes as a means of removing waste materials taken down during demolition and, later, potentially for passengers on the mainline to Birmingham and beyond.
Councillor Carter, who also represents Newport South & East on Telford & Wrekin Council, said: "Once the line is reopened, it will go very close to the industrial estates, which weren't there when the railway closed. You didn't have the connectivity there which would enable people to get to work at places like Stafford Park.
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"They could put in a halt around the Madeley junction to get people to their employment rather than driving. That would get people out of cars.
"Ironbridge would become not just a holiday area or for tourism, but as a place to get to work."
Councillor Carter said a park and ride scheme, which Harworth has confirmed is part of its plans, would help bring people into the Gorge.
"It's essential people can visit the place," he said. "A park and ride and a train station within the power station site makes ultimate sense. It won't just be homes, but retail and employment. You can't create more parking facilities in Ironbridge."
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The success of the Polar Express at Telford Steam Railway could lead to a heritage railway into the Gorge.
"That would be very interesting," Councillor Carter said. "Here's another 'Severn Valley Railway' operation.
"There are great opportunities for heritage, and for a mainline for passengers into the Ironbridge Gorge."
The final Ironbridge Power Station redevelopment could include up to 1,000 homes, a school and shops.
The application has been submitted to Telford & Wrekin Council and Shropshire Council, and also includes plans for nature corridors, public open space and the re-use of the site’s pump house to support either retail, community or river-based uses.
Planning bosses at both councils will now consider the plans, and a decision is expected to take up to 12 months to make.