MP dashes hopes of using new Government pledge to reopen Oswestry railway

Reporter:

Emily Davies

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson has said a new Government pledge to restoring out-of-use railway lines will not explore opportunities in Oswestry.

Earlier this week, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP unveiled a new vision for railways across the UK.

As part of the strategy the Government has committed to exploring opportunities to restore some of the railway capacity that was lost under the Beeching cutbacks in the 1960s – which included Oswestry’s line from Gobowen into Mid Wales.

In the years since then volunteers at the Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR) have worked hard to reopen the line.

But Mr Paterson told the Advertizer the new vision would not include such lines.

“I don’t think there is the demand there,” he said, “This is aimed at really big schemes.

“However, there is a call there for getting the railway line from Oswestry to Gobowen reopened to return a direct rail link to the town.”

One such railway line that the Government is planning to reopen is the Oxford to Cambridge line.

In his unveiling of the new scheme, Mr Grayling said lines to be reopened would be those that “unlock new housing or economic growth and offer good value for money”.

He continued: “Our new development programme will identify new connections and lines that were closed to passengers by British Rail, as part of finding and funding future rail schemes which offer good value.

The CHR volunteers have successfully reopened the line from the town’s station through to the Gas Works Bridge and also a smaller section at Llynclys, both of which host regular steam days.

Their next aim is to open the Oswestry line up to Weston and then link with the strip at Llynclys, while also hoping to create a passenger link from Gobowen to the town centre.

Roger Date, vice chairman of CHR, said the news would “add support” to the group’s aspirations, but stressed the local line is not closed.

He continued: “Plans are already at an advanced stage to operate a tram service between Gobowen and the Orthapedic Hospital at Park Hall Halt, the numerous land acquisitions at Gobowen are now complete such that the route to achieve this short-term aspiration is now established with the project only requiring funding support to make this section a reality.

”The recent announcement from the Department of Transport can only assist this aspiration which in time will also see trains travelling through to Oswestry and beyond.”

Email:

emily.davies@nwn.co.uk

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