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by Dave Roberts,
It's gratifying to note that RAIL Magazine, Britain's leading railway journal, continues to take an interest in our campaign to re-introduce a Crewe-Manchester passenger service via the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich line, and to build new stations at Middlewich and Gadbrook Park.
Paul Stephen's article (illustration above) is just the latest in a whole series of articles and features examining in detail the proposals for this 'simplest of all rail re-openings' and coming down, not unnaturally, on the 'yes' side.
Paul's article reports that Rail Minister Paul Maynard, 'in response to lobbying from the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and local MP Esther McVey (Conservative, Tatton)' has now 'instructed the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to create a working group to examine proposals for re-opening, including the construction of new stations at Middlewich and Gadbrook park'.
It goes on to say, 'the campaign received a further boost on November 30th when Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said he was 'sympathetic' to the idea of restoring scheduled passenger services, and that he had asked Transport for the North (TfN) to consider its inclusion in TfN's Strategic Transport Plan and long-term investment programme once it becomes a sub-national transport authority in April.'
MCRLC chairman Stephen Dent paid tribute to our three local MPs Fiona Bruce (Congleton), Esther McVey (Tatton) and Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) for their persistence in keeping the proposals before Parliament and the public and in bringing them to the attention of the Secretary of State.
He says, 'my view is that we have done our job now in getting (the proposals) passed over to the proper authorities. We will continue to work in partnership with them and keep local stakeholders informed of further developments.'
That last sentence is important. Arguably the campaign could be said to have done its job when we published and widely distributed the business case for the re-opening a few years ago.
In fact we could be said to have done our job when the second of our feasibility studies was published in 2009, showing beyond any doubt that the re-opening was an eminently practical proposition with a cost:benefit ratio of an astonishing 1:5 (this fact alone, by the way, should, in the opinion of many in the rail industry, have ensured that the proposals were given serious consideration).
But as we all know, there can be no resting on laurels when you're pushing for something as vitally important to the local area as this scheme.
The campaign can only really end when the first train runs, and I'm sure that day can't be too far off now.
For a while now I've been telling anyone who was prepared to listen (and many others besides) that the re-opening of this line to passengers and the building of the two new stations is a matter of 'when' rather than 'if'.
My congratulations to Stephen and Samantha and to all the many people who are working hard to bring this much needed service back to Mid-Cheshire.
Dave Roberts is the Hon. President of the Mid-Cheshire Rail Link Campaign.
MID-CHESHIRE RAIL LINK CAMPAIGN (FACEBOOK)
THE MID-CHESHIRE RAIL LINK CAMPAIGN 1992-2015
PAUL STEPHENS (EMAIL LINK)
(Paul is RAIL Magazine's Assistant Features Editor)