After waiting 20 years, the project to re-open Stonehouse (Bristol Road) station is no longer stuck in the sidings.
Not my words but those of Robert Crockford, something of a railway expert, who at 82 is hoping that he will live to see his pet project come to fruition.
With a team of savvy Stonehouse councillors helping him, Robert, a former senior manager with the old British Rail, had secured a £50 000 Department of Transport bid for a detailed feasibility study to get the green light for the station.
Readers of this column know that I have been very supportive of the team’s bid—with the backing of Stroud MP, Siobhan Baillie.
I am returning to the campaign after I was reminded about the role of rail when I went to a House of Lords reception for our Western Gateway bid to build a prototype fusion plant at Berkeley and Oldbury.
When I asked for a first-class ticket to Paddington at Gloucester station, the very helpful ticket office lady said it was £172 return and I could probably go to Portugal for less.
She was right, of course. But it got me thinking again about the importance of rail and how we should look again at those lines that suffered the Beeching Axe in the 60s and 70s.
Why not re-open some of those old stations like Stonehouse Bristol Road and develop Gloucestershire’s abysmal rail system.
So, that’s the aside to me returning to the Stonehouse campaign.
It turns out I was timely as the consultants awarded the bid have now been working on it for the last three weeks.
Covid delayed the project but is now gaining speed and the Strategic Outline Business Case(SOBC) needs to be completed by September.
And with a fair wind, we could have a final decision for the green light in three years’ time.
Robert Crockford is a cautious man. But listening to him I think the plan has a good chance as the team has had hints their bid was pretty good.
And when Michael Gove talks about Levelling Up, surely bringing Gloucestershire’s rail network up to speed is worth consideration?
Former newspaper editor, Ian Mean is Business West’s Gloucestershire director, a board member of GFirstLEP and former vice-chair of the Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company.