A RAIL users’ group has stepped up the campaign for a direct Evesham to Birmingham railway link with a journey time of just one hour, through their response to a consultation.

The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group (SLPG), representing rail users between Stratford upon Avon and Birmingham including Evesham, has run the long running campaign. SLPG, along with the Cotswold Line Promotion Group, has called for the disused rail line linking Honeybourne, on the Cotswold Line, with Stratford upon Avon, to reopen to make the journeys between Evesham and Birmingham a reality.

The Journal has previously reported on SLPG’s activities that have included a 2016 survey, that showed 63 per cent of respondents supported the reopening of a link, and writing to James Brokenshire, secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government, requesting he call in planning applications saying a full economic impact study should be done that would determine the viability of reopening the railway, before new housing developments are built.

Now the group is continuing the campaign by submitting its views to Wychavon District Council concerning the consultation on the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) consultation.

In the consultation submission, sent before December's deadline, the group said: “SLPG believe that the SWDP should include and require - explicit provision for the protection of the disused railway corridor that falls within Worcestershire from its boundary with Long Marston and through the parishes of Broad Marston, Pebworth and Honeybourne and the SWDP should explicitly support and endorse the Cotswold Line Task Force and its work.”

The group's secretary, Fraser Pithie added: “The SWDP should support the need for a full Economic Impact Assessment on the reopening of the railway route.”

Meanwhile, rail users in Evesham have blasted the latest increase in ticket prices, after the 3.1 per cent average increase on tickets came into force on January 2.

Evesham Labour Party member recently protested at the ‘unjustified price rises’ at the town’s station, speaking to passengers and handing out leaflets.

David Haslam, chairman of Evesham Labour Party, added: "I returned from Worcester and after paying the increased fare the train was already 35 minutes late reaching Evesham. People might not mind so much paying more if the trains ran on time."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian times to improve services for passengers – providing faster and better, more comfortable trains with extra seats."