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Worcestershire Rail Investment Strategy

Snapshot

In 2016 Worcestershire County Council commissioned SLC Rail to develop a rail investment strategy to support development of its local transport plan and to provide robust evidence for securing substantial improvements to rail services.

Client: Worcestershire County Council.
SLC team: Ian Baxter, John Harvey

Overview

Worcestershire is a thriving county with an economy and population that is forecast to grow significantly in the next five to ten years. However, the current rail provision in the County is relatively poor, with facilities, services and car parks that are already very close to capacity, as well services to London which need to be faster and more frequent. As a result, reliance on cars is high.

Worcestershire County Council has already begun investing in rail improvements and with the help of SLC Rail has secured funding for three new/upgraded stations (Worcestershire Parkway, Bromsgrove Station and Kidderminster Station).

Developing a long-reaching, economically-evidenced rail investment strategy was seen as key to building on these successes and supporting the economic growth of the County.

Developing the plan

SLC Rail approached the development of the strategy in five key stages:

  1. Baseline the current rail situation in the County
  2. Assess the scale of growth expected
  3. Identify gaps and solutions
  4. Model the economic benefits of these solutions
  5. Prioritise the investment to achieve maximum value for money

The team at SLC Rail developed detailed options for new services and worked with consultants at SYSTRA to model the economic benefit of each, producing a forecast of both GVA increase and jobs creation from improvements to journey time and enhanced business to business activity.

Strategic focus

The Worcestershire Rail Investment Strategy focuses on four overarching themes for rail service development. Specifically:

  • Two trains per hour Worcester to London Paddington
  • One train per hour Kidderminster, Droitwich Spa, Worcester to London Paddington
  • Additional calls at Worcestershire Parkway for Bristol - Manchester and Plymouth - Newcastle services
  • Regional service between Kidderminster and Bromsgrove, Worcester and Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester and Bristol

This is supported by key aspirational infrastructure schemes, essential to facilitate this new connectivity, including:

  • North Cotswold Line capacity upgrade
  • Worcester Area and Droitwich Spa to Stoke Works capacity upgrade
  • Worcester Shrub Hill station regeneration
  • Electrification of both the Bristol to Birmingham and Snow Hill lines
  • New car park capacity and/or new stations

Action plan

The team from SLC Rail included detailed recommendations for putting the strategy into action. These include six specific steps, from investment in projects within the County to formal engagement with rail industry planning processes, input to specific rail partnerships and task-forces and lobbying of government.

Next steps

The Worcestershire Rail Investment Strategy was published for public consultation in July 2017 (see draft strategy document). Responses will be analysed and a summary report will be produced and published in the Autumn.

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