THE last single-track section of the Cotswold Line rail route through West Oxfordshire should be redoubled as a matter of urgency, according to Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron.
He has written to Chancellor George Osborne and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin calling for funding to be committed for reinstatement of the second track from Charlbury to Wolvercot junction, north of Oxford, before the end of the current Parliament next year.
His intervention follows pressure from MPs in Worcestershire, who said that even though 20 miles of the line saw double track reinstated in 2011, including the four miles from Charlbury to Ascott-under-Wychwood, services on the route between Oxford and Worcester were still not reliable enough and should be speeded up.
The redoubling project led by Network Rail in 2009-11 cost £67m.
John Ellis, the chairman of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group, which represents passengers, said that reinstatement of more double track would bring a range of benefits.
He said: “We expect this will lead to more frequent, faster and more reliable services.
“The reason the PM is intervening is that services from Worcester are still very slow, there has been no significant improvement in frequency, nothing like the regular hourly services we are calling for.”
As well as the nine-mile single track section of the line in West Oxfordshire, there is another of similar length at the western end of the line, between Evesham and the edge of Worcester.
West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin said: “This is an important intervention by the Prime Minister, who uses the service and is aware of the problems Cotswold Line passengers face.
“These letters to the two people who can ‘green light’ the project are great news and I hope that it will lead to even better news in the future.”