PEOPLE in Cirencester have given their seal of approval to plans to connect the town back up to the rail network.
The Cirencester Community Railway Project is aiming to build an 8km railway line to Kemble, and use new technology known as Very Light Rail.
The proposed route would serve the hospital, Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester College, Deer Park School and the Steadings development and the project would cost around £52 million.
Money from the Gloucestershire Strategic Economic Development Fund, the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Restoring Your Railway fund and Cotswold District Council has helped progress the plans.
And residents want to see them come to fruition, according to the results of last month’s public consultation.
More than 200 people visited the exhibition, held at the Parish Forum on April 22 and 23, with many expressing enthusiasm for the scheme and only five people objecting.
Richard and Jane Gunner, from the Cirencester Community Railway Project, said: “Some concerns were expressed, particularly about how many people would use it, although amongst the few objectors there were some diametrically opposed views: either too few people would use it to justify the cost or too many would use it and would spoil Cirencester.
“However, the event revealed huge public support with many people feeling schemes such as this are vital to tackle climate change and reduce the reliance on cars.
“It became clear that people would also use it outside the normal commuting hours, especially if it ran late in to the evening and met the last train as is the intention.
“The level of support will help to inform the feasibility study as the project moves forward.”
Project leaders are waiting for the outcome of a review from the DfT. If successful, this would provide further funding to produce an Outline Business Case.
In the meantime they are working on the second phase of a feasibility study.
District councillor for Kemble Tony Berry, who has been involved with the scheme from the beginning, said the project would provide ‘opportunities galore’.
“It really opens Cirencester up to the world. It should give the town a real boost.”
He said the current situation, where those without cars would need to get a bus or taxi from Kemble station, did not encourage people to visit the town.
“It’s really nice for us to be such a historical town yet at the front of something that’s very new,” he added.
Adam Vines, president of Cirencester Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Chamber of Commerce has always supported this initiative and looks forward to the continued development of the project.
“By improving the transport infrastructure to the town through the light railway it would certainly expand tourism to the town and benefit business by having a direct link with London.”