By Ben Norris
Proposals for a new railway station in Stonehouse are picking up steam following an online petition which received over 600 signatures.
The Stonehouse Bristol Road Station Advocacy Group, set up to push for a new station on the Bristol line, has declared that it would be a ‘deliverable solution’ to the issue of rail transport to Bristol from the county which would help people get off the roads and onto trains.
Campaigners want the county council to back the idea of reopening it as ‘Stroudwater Station’.
At present, the station has broad support in the community; as well as the petition circulated online, several local figures have spoken out in support of the project, including Deputy Mayor of Stonehouse Carol Kambites.
However, if Gloucestershire County Council don’t include the proposal in their Local Transport Plan, currently going through its final stages before being agreed in Spring 2021, then the station faces being delayed.
Deputy Mayor Kambites said: “I’m really delighted with all the support we have received for the re-opening of Stroudwater Station.
“It will be a much needed asset to the whole of the Stroud Valleys, providing a convenient and sustainable public transport link to Bristol and beyond.
“It will bring economic, social and environmental benefits by enabling local people to access Bristol for work, education and leisure without contributing to traffic congestion and associated pollution.”
At present, it can take longer to reach Bristol by train from Stroud than it does to get to London, with the majority of commuters relying at least in part on the M5 corridor.
If a Stroud resident wants to get the train to Bristol Temple Meads, they have to head there via Cheltenham Spa or Swindon and make a changeover, adding considerably to the overall journey time.
The presence of a new station at Stonehouse on the Bristol line would likely ease this traffic, and offer an alternative to the M5, where over 80% of the county’s commute takes place.
Gloucestershire County Council’s own website concedes that rail patronage in the county is ‘very low’, something it has pledged to amend with greater investment in infrastructure.
Other arguments in favour of the project include the employment opportunities that would be presented to Stonehouse, as well as the connectivity offered to students at schools, colleges and universities in the Stroud and Bristol areas.
“The Bristol Road station in Stonehouse would make a significant positive economic and environmental impact for a relatively small investment in terms of rail infrastructure,” said a spokesperson for the Stonehouse Bristol Road Station Advocacy Group. “The line is already there.”
A railway station formerly existed at the Bristol Road site until 1965, when services to and from the station on the main line were axed during the Beeching Cuts.
A second proposal being developed for a station at Charfield on the same line is more advanced, and it is hoped that plans for both stations will come to fruition.
The spokesperson added: “Gloucestershire should have better rail links to Bristol to provide more opportunities for passengers to travel by train.”
A Stroudwater Station supporters campaign has been set up with a petition on Gloucestershire County Council’s website; click here to sign the petition and add your voice.
More information on the Stroudwater Station can be found on their website here.
Featured image provided by Gerry Chance.