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Mean on Monday: good transport links for business are vital

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By Ian Mean

Business West Gloucestershire director & vice-chair GfirstLEP

Good transport links for business are vital if the Gloucestershire economy is to grow.

Efficient train and bus services are  such an important  factor in recruitment which is  now such a headache for  companies in our county.

It is against this background of the need to have better train services, particularly, that I wish to highlight a very worthwhile campaign being fought to re-open the former Stroudwater station at Stonehouse.

After five years of campaigning by the group, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel -even it is only a chink at the moment.

Readers of a certain vintage may remember that the Bristol Road station  at Stonehouse closed under the  Beeching rail cuts in the late 1950s.

2.

One of those readers and campaigners from day one was Robert Crockford, 84,who I would describe as a veteran railway man with a massive knowledge of the rail network having been a senior executive on the railways.

Together with huge support from Stonehouse Town Council taking the lead through Councillor Carol Kambites ,Robert believes that government are now listening to the station case. 

And Stroud’s MP, Siobhan Baillie has taken up the cudgels with the transport department in Whitehall  to the point now that she has been promised  a visit to the station site by the Rail Minister, Huw Merriman.

What is the realism of the station being re-opened and the Bristol line—which still exists-operating trains again?


3.

As ever, costs and planning will be the main issues.

But surely, with such a growth in the companies choosing to operate around Stonehouse, the re-opening has a good chance of passing the business and community tests.

The capital costs of the re-opening are very difficult to define, but initially could be around £10 million and might take three years to develop with new signalling.

It is wrong of me to speculate on figures because I am not a rail or planning  engineer.

But what I do know is here we have a thriving business community of  something like 60 000 people and growing.

Local business need to salute these campaigners like Carol and Robert. 

4.

They did not drop the baton when the fight became too complex and elongated.

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