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‘Cautious optimism’ over long-running station plan
CHINEHAM is on track to get its own railway station within the next decade.
That was the view of one borough councillor as members met to discuss the latest on the council-backed scheme.
Popley East councillor Andy McCormick, who sits on a single-issue panel looking into the proposal, told Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s environment overview committee that he was “cautiously optimistic” following a feasibility report.
The study found there was a financial case for a new station at Chineham, on the Basingstoke to Reading line, which might “attract some internal investment”.
However, it also found that the station would cause a delay on the rail network across the Basingstoke area.
Rail regulator Network Rail wants any new station not to add any delay to the network.
Cllr McCormick said: “This station represents a really good solution for the people of Chine-ham. I am cautiously optimistic that, by the 2010s, we will have a new station.”
The feasibility report, by consultants John Laing Ltd, found any new station at Chineham would add about 12 minutes of delay to the network.
The report offered three solutions to the problem – remove another station on the line in exchange, improve rolling stock with faster trains, or use the current rolling stock with driver-only operation.
Network Rail bosses have discounted the first idea, and have said that a decision on the merits of the remaining two are up to train operator First Great Western.
Ian Robertson, planning officer at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, said neither option is likely in First Great Western’s current franchise period.
He added that he would speak to representatives from Network Rail and would stress that a new Chineham railway station is important to alleviate traffic on the A33 if Basingstoke is to make the most of its status as a designated “diamond for growth” area.