WORCESTER PARKWAY STATION
(also known as Worcestershire Parkway Regional Interchange)
The idea that a new station should be built on the outskirts of the City of Worcester has been a long-held ambition of Worcestershire County Council. The aim of the project for a new station near Norton is to provide a station that will be served by services on the Hereford to London and the Birmingham to Gloucester lines.
In October 2014 the Council published an A4 size colour glossy brochure painting a rosy picture of the project. The front cover showing a small station and car park, surrounded by trees and open spaces, with a roundabout access from the Worcester to Pershore minor road (formerly the main road to London, but now relegated to minor status). The station is planned to be near to Junction 7 of the M5 motorway.
The plan has four stated aims which can be summarised as: improved railway services, better accessibility to trains to London, park & ride opportunities and finally connecting Worcester(shire) to the Bristol-Birmingham-North West/North East (sic).
The financial means to build the new station are unclear but it is suggested that the costs incurred will be recovered from car park users and train operator station access charges.
The document provides no information as to which services (if any) will use the new station. In 2016 the only operator of passenger trains between Birmingham and Bristol-North West/North East is Cross Country Trains with a half-hourly service of class 220 and 221 Voyager diesel multiple units. These trains run non-stop from Birmingham New Street to Cheltenham Spa. The other passenger services on this line (also operated by Cross Country Trains) are the hourly class 170 diesel multiple unit services from Nottingham to Cardiff, most of which also run non-stop from Birmingham to Cheltenham. Cheltenham is currently (2016) served by seven trains per day from Great Malvern via Worcester. These trains are operated by Great Western Railway and would not serve the new station and are likely to suffer passenger abstraction to Parkway services.
The train service from Worcester to London is also provided by Great Western Railway using mostly HST class 125s and class 180 'Adelante' units. Despite recent doubling of track south of Evesham the capacity to operate more trains on this route is limited because of the long single track section between Norton and Evesham (the currently published plan for Parkway Station would further reduce capacity by inserting another stop on this single line). Whether the new station will encourage a big enough increase in passengers using the London services to pay for the station access charges is a moot point.
The third train operator to consider is London Midland Trains who in 2016 provided all the trains services between Worcester and Birmingham. This passenger flow is likely to see passengers abstracted to the new services via Parkway.
A better and cheaper option might be to extend some of the trains that currently terminate at Cheltenham Spa to Worcester Foregate Street or Great Malvern.
The glossy brochure paints a bright picture for the station but the first design proposals, published in February 2016, show a utilitarian station with little aesthetic appeal.