A CAMPAIGN group has spoken of its disappointment that a local scheme has not been included in the first round of a government initiative.

But the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group has said they are "undeterred" and will keep pushing for the bid on the Stratford-Honeybourne rail alignment to be successful.

Three local rail user groups, representing a combined membership of over 5,000 people, joined together and submitted an application to the £500m “Restoring Your Railway Fund” which was set up at the beginning of the year by the Department for Transport (DofT).

The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group (SLPG), The Cotswold Line Promotion Group (CLPG) and Solihull & Leamington Spa Rail Users Association (SALRUA) submitted the bid in February asking for up to £75,000 to enable an Economic Impact Study to be carried out on reopening the disused section of railway between Stratford upon Avon, Long Marston and Honeybourne.

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The plan included the bid to dual track two sections of the North Cotswold Line that would mean faster trains would no longer need to slow down through the single-line sections, as they currently do, and a second platform at Pershore.

The plans were raised at a debate in Parliament in January, before coronavirus crisis took hold.

But now it has emerged the bid has been unsuccessful in the first round and some critics have highlighted the confusion as to why some of the schemes were chosen ahead of their plan, considering some are understood to not even have a business case.

Peter Morris, SLPG chairman said after Covid-19 crisis: “The socio-economic factors supporting the need to understand the economic impact of this scheme couldn't be higher or more imperative to the local community and its local businesses.”

The DfT is now inviting submissions to the scheme for a second and third round, but uncertainty remains as to where this leaves the 52 unsuccessful schemes including the rail groups' bid, and whether they can apply again.

John Ellis, CLPG chairman added: “We are seeking urgent clarification that our case and application is still under active consideration and consequently could be part of a subsequent announcement.”

UPDATE: Fraser Pithie, secretary of the branch, has asked us to clarify the plans to dual track two sections of the North Cotswold Line are not in the bid mentioned.

Mr Pithie explained: "It certainly is correct that any reopening of the Stratford - Honeybourne railway is dependant upon the dualling work being carried out on the Cotswold Line to provide more capacity for what would be more trains. 

"However, the dualling and proposed improvements to the North Cotswold Line is being led by the North Cotswold Line Task Force and is a scheme that is independent of the EIS bid, stands on its own merit and is sponsored by the local authorities and key stakeholders along the Cotswold Line route. 

"Therefore for clarity and understanding we wish to make it clear that the the bid for an Economic Impact Study into reopening the railway between Stratford upon Avon and Honeybourne is dependant upon the dualling of further sections of the Cotswold Line but, in no way, affects the separate proposals and case for the improvements to the existing Cotswold Line being promoted by the North Cotswold Line Task Force."