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Sir Peter Luff, MP for Mid Worcestershire, today met the Government’s Rail Minister, Stephen Hammond, to discuss the urgent need to improve train services between London and the county.

Sir Peter explained,

“I honestly believe that Worcestershire is one of the worst served counties when it comes to rail services to London. It is the poor relation of the UK’s rail network.

“We know the inadequate rail links to London deter investment in our county. I put this case powerfully to the Minister using a detailed presentation which I called ”A tale of two railway lines”, comparing the services to Worcester and Norwich.

“The two cities are about the same distance from London and serve the same number of people. But there are thirty-six services to Diss and Norwich per weekday and only fifteen services to Evesham and Worcester. The journey to Norwich is also on average half an hour shorter than the journey to Worcester.

“Ironically, Members of Parliament for the Norwich area argue that Norwich needs a better rail service, while businesses and residents in Worcestershire would be delighted with that level of service.

Sir Peter made the case to Stephen Hammond and his officials that the line between Charlbury and Oxford must be redoubled in order for services to be improved to Worcestershire. He also argued for the Worcestershire Parkway station, the redoubling of the line between Evesham and Worcester and the use of the new ICE express trains from 2017 on the line.

He told the minster that he was given assurances in April 2008, before the partial redoubling of the line between Evesham and Charlbury, that the line between Oxford and Charlbury would be redoubled when Oxford station was remodelled.

After the meeting Sir Peter said,

“The improvement programme at Oxford is now being scheduled but I understand that Network Rail is now not going to redouble the Charlbury to Oxford section on the grounds of civil engineering costs.

“If the Oxford station remodelling and resignalling goes ahead without the redoubling of this section of the line factored in then it could rule it out for ever. This would be a disaster and leave Worcestershire with irregular, long and often delayed services for decades more.”

“The meeting with the minister and his officials was very constructive. They agreed to see what could be done and I hope they will be able to provide Worcestershire with the reassurance that the work at Oxford will, at very least, enable redoubling in the future.”


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