A campaign is underway to bring a station to Baschurch, near Shrewsbury, with hordes of villagers packing into The Corbet School on Friday night for a presentation.
Land has been set aside, as part of a new housing development to be built near the former station building, for a replacement to be constructed if and when the funds can be secured.
The disused station has been closed for several decades but calls have been mounted for it to reopen, with hundreds of people signing a petition last year asking Shropshire Council to fund a new feasibility study.
Speakers at The Corbet School included Helen Morgan MP and Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for infrastructure Dean Carroll, as well as transport experts Professor John Whitelegg and Dr Nigel Harris.
Baschurch Parish Council chairman Andy Woodthorpe told the audience that property developers Shinglers, who plan on building homes in the area, have agreed to set aside land for community use, which could be used for a railway station car park. He said having the car park would be a vital step to strengthen any bid to open a village station again.
A planning application is expected to be submitted in the near future, and Baschurch residents were urged to throw their support behind it, or the land would be developed in another way and the opportunity would almost certainly be lost.
“If we have no car park, the station won’t happen,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.
“We need public support, your support, or the station reopening will not happen.”
Mrs Morgan gave a short speech outlining why she is behind the move, pointing out the benefits environmentally and that it would help people feel less isolated. She described it as a “now or never” opportunity.
Councillor Carroll said that Shropshire Council would be “fully behind” the railway reopening, but urged residents to comment in support of the planning application because, without strong public support, it would likely be rejected by the planning committee.
Professor Whitelegg said he was encouraged by the numbers that had turned out, saying public support seemed even bigger for this than it had for other successful railway reopening campaigns he had been involved in. He also insisted ambitions should be high for an efficient, inter-connected public transport system.
Dr Harris, one of the country’s leading railway planners, gave an optimistic presentation, explaining in more detail about the process of reopening a railway station. However, he did warn that it could take five to 10 years for it to happen. He said the reopening of the Bow Street station near Aberystwyth took around seven years and cost £9 million.
The former station, now known as Station House, is privately owned and in residential use, meaning a new station would need to be built in order to get the village reinstated as a stop on the Shrewsbury-Chester line.