With a new ministerial team in post at the Department of Transport, Michael Fabricant once again raised the issue of restoring the Lichfield to Burton line for passenger traffic with at least one stop at the National Memorial Arboretum and possibly others at Barton under Needwood.
In the House of Commons yesterday (13th October), Michael asked: “Previous ministers for rail have been up to the National Memorial Arboretum to see the existing freight line between Lichfield and Burton. It would be remarkably cheap to convert it into passenger rail line, it would relieve traffic on the A38 and provide a direct rail link for veterans to visit the National Memorial Arboretum. So, having had a load of ministers coming up, can I invite the Secretary of State to come up, visit me at the National Memorial Arboretum, which she will enjoy, and see the benefits of making that line available for passenger traffic?”
Rail Minister Kevin Foster replied: “I do thank for the Member for Lichfield, it sounded like such a wonderful invitation that I insisted on coming to the Dispatch Box as the Rail Minister to accept it.
“I do note the scheme was unsuccessful previously under the Restoring Your Railway programme but I am very happy to continue working with him to explore opportunities to improve rail transport on offer in this area.”
Commenting later, Michael says “This scheme was never really suitable for the Restoring Your Railway programme, but it was thought an application would do no harm. It has the backing of West Midlands Metro Mayor, Andy Street, and the bid was prepared by his department’s West Midlands Rail Executive as the new line would, in effect, be an extension of the Cross City Line from Lichfield to Birmingham and beyond.
“Former rail minister, Chris Heaton Harris who is now Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, felt there were other funding pots to use for this line and in the next two weeks I will be exploring these possibilities with Kevin Foster. I hope that he will stay in place long enough to see this upgrade through! There have been a number of changes in personnel in the Department of Transport over the last few years.”