A DIRECT rail link between Stratford and Birmingham Airport could be in the pipeline.
Council chiefs and business leaders are holding discussions over the possibility of a new line which would allow passengers to get to the international airport – now promoted in America and China as Shakespeare’s Airport – in just 20 minutes.
Initial talks are of a new line running alongside the M42 motorway before branching off at Solihull, which would also link up with the planned HS2 interchange and put Stratford within an hour of London.
Coun Robert Vaudry has called for a joint South Warwickshire approach – involving Stratford and Warwick district councils – to Chancellor George Osborne.
Coun Vaudry, who represents Bishopton on Stratford District Council, said “I suggest we put forward a joint South Warwickshire proposal to George Osborne which, if accepted, is so transformational for the residents of Stratford and Warwick.
“That proposal is a guarantee to deliver a fast rail link to Birmingham Airport, the NEC and the HS2 interchange. This should mean travelers can get to the NEC and airport in 20 minutes where it currently takes and hour and a half. And for Stratford to London via the HS2 interchange it could take under an hour.
“Couple this with the proposed tram link from Honeybourne to Stratford that Cala Homes have said they will fund, and the southern relief road which they’re willing to construct, and we happen to have a strategy that address some of the traffic problems in Stratford. Commuters and tourists have a viable alternative to the car.”
The ambitious proposals come in a week rail links between Stratford and London were branded ‘third rate’.
The Stratford/Worcester/Oxford (SWO) campaign group is concerned by the lack of trains running to the capital following a reduction of direct train services between the town and London Marylebone – from six to three on week days.
SWO claim direct Stratford to London services are being sacrificed in favour of the more lucrative Oxford-Bicester-London service. A new three-quarter mile line has been built at Bicester to link the London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street and Snow Hill line with an existing rail route between Bicester town and Oxford.
SWO member Michael Brockington – who played a role in stopping the complete closure of the existing Birmingham to Stratford railway line in 1969 – was scathing about the latest service reductions.
He said: “Reducing direct train services between London and Stratford and replacing them with the need for passengers to change trains at Leamington is completely unacceptable.”
“Part of accommodating the new service between Oxford and London has been achieved by axing many of the direct trains between Stratford and London.”
Chiltern Railways emphasised there would still be plenty of services to London – but passengers would need to change trains at Leamington.
Chiltern Railways director Graham Cross said: “The timetable has been developed following consultation with local people and businesses, offering attractive journey times and a memorable pattern of service.
“Stratford remains a key destination for us and we believe these improvements to the service will allow more passengers to travel to and from the town.”