Minister backs railway plan

January 22, 2009 5:32 PM

Gloucestershire MPs Martin Horwood, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and David Drew, emerged smiling from a meeting today with transport minister Lord Adonis. The minister gave the clearest indication yet of strong government backing for the redoubling of the Swindon to Kemble railway line which has been the subject of a long running campaign by local MPs, councils and businesses. Lord Adonis said he was 'strongly supportive of the project'. The project needs several million pounds in engineering studies to start the ball rolling and MPs are now optimistic that government will make a substantial contribution to this. The full funding of the project will still be dependent on backing from the Regional Development Agency.

The redoubling of the Swindon to Kemble line could lead to better services to Swindon, Reading and London, including more direct trains from Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington. It would add greater reliability to train journeys across the region.

Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood commented: 'this is very good news for Cheltenham, for Gloucestershire and for the region. If the project does now go ahead we could be celebrating Christmas 2011 with much better local railway services and much more reliable local railway services. Because final funding has not yet been secured, we certainly haven't arrived at our final destination yet but we're certainly on the right track now'.

'It was very important that this was a cross-party initiative and enjoyed support from MPs of all three parties, from Gloucestershire County Council and from local councils and businesses.'

Steve Jordan, leader of Cheltenham Borough Council commented: 'This has been a big campaign across Gloucestershire. This is welcome news from the government and a positive step towards realising the project.