I am writing to fully support the view that our MPs and councils should be strongly campaigning for the reopening of several of the closed rail lines in Shropshire, to support connectivity, boost economic development and work towards a green agenda.
In Shropshire there are three key rail lines that should be reopened in the next few years using the Government’s new ‘restoring your railway’ £500 million funding. They are:
1) The rail line from Buildwas/Ironbridge to Madeley Junction – the track is intact but needs upgrading with new signalling. This would help Ironbridge by reducing congestion on the narrow roads, bring tourism into the area, help take waste away from the power station site and avoid thousands of lorries blocking up the local roads and provide a commuter service for passengers for work and leisure. There should be additional funding for the reopening of this key line from the developers of the power station site and there is potential to extend the rail line to Much Wenlock.
2) The rail route from Wellington to Newport and Stafford should also be reopened as it would have regional strategic value for the whole of Shropshire by giving a fast and direct link to the West Coast main line at Stafford (and eventually link in with HS2). It would also give the rapidly growing town of Newport (with the nearby Harper Adams Univ and the new i innovations park) a new rail station and significantly improve its presently poor public transport links. The track is intact as far as the Donnington rail freight depot and most of the old trackbed is still available, apart from around the Donnington clock tower where there would need to be an underpass/bridge or revised route. Similar engineering projects have been completed in other areas.
3) Lastly, the rail line from Oswestry to Gobowen should be reopened to boost the regeneration of Oswestry and give easy access to the Park Hall hospital. Again most of the track is intact, although some engineering will need to be done at level crossings on main roads. Again, this line could be reopened fairly quickly with political support and funding.
To see how reopening a rail route can boost an area, improve connectivity and the local economy, have a look at the great success of the recently reopened Borders railway in Southern Scotland which runs to the very small town of Tweedbank (www.bordersrailway.co.uk).
These schemes should be high on the agendas of both our councils and should be supported by the five Shropshire MPs.
Nick Richards, Wellington
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