Thursday, 31 January 2013


January 2013

At MRLC’s committee meeting on the 29th January we discussed the progress of the petition which our local MP Fiona Bruce is putting before Parliament; the possibility of our taking advantage of the new £20 million Government funding for the opening of new railway stations in the UK, and Monday’s announcement of the route for phase two of High Speed 2 (HS2) which, in this area, will run from the West Coast Main  Line near Minshull Vernon and then veer off towards Manchester, passing very close to Middlewich and Winsford at Stanthorne and Bostock.
MRLC is in the process of passing on the last few additional signatures on our petition which Congleton MP Fiona Bruce intends to put before Parliament.
The petition calls for the introduction of a new passenger service from Manchester to Crewe via Northwich, a new station at Middlewich, and Sandbach.
Fiona hopes to be able to present the petition in the near future.
The Government recently announced the creation of a new £20 million fund for the building of new stations in the UK.
The stumbling block as far as MRLC is concerned is that schemes applying for this funding need to be, as the Government puts it, ‘shovel ready’ – i.e. ready to go ahead and with the support of local authorities, train companies and Network Rail.
We do, of course, have the support of both Cheshire Councils and of Northern Rail who will be the operators of the new service, but the problem lies with Network Rail who are asking for a large sum of money merely to look at our consultants’ report.
Cheshire East Councillor Mike Parsons has agreed to talk to Fiona Bruce about this matter and see if anything can be done to access some of this money for Middlewich.
We also talked about the rather controversial matter of the new High Speed Rail Link, phase two of which will run from Crewe to Manchester, passing very close to Middlewich and Winsford in the process.
MRLC feels that the fact that the ‘local’ station for  HS2 in this area will be Crewe does nothing but strengthen the case for the new Manchester-Middlewich-Crewe service.
There will be much talk in the years to come about developing local lines to ‘feed into’ the HS2 lines and we very much hope that the Middlewich line will be one of them.
This does not, however, indicate that we believe that the new Middlewich service will ‘follow on’ from the development of the HS2 line.
Our new service, and our new station are needed now, and will be needed whether or not the new High Speed lines are built.


  1. According to the article from Travel News, "the £20m will contribute towards the cost of scheme construction, bidders must have available a portion of match funding of the project cost."

    Unless I'm mistaken, the MRLC has no money to support the building of a station. Add to that the lack of an existing, usable structure and no support from Network Rail, it looks impossible for Middlewich to qualify for this particular fund.

    Regarding Network Rail, I think it's disgusting that they require payment to look at the report. As a statutory corporation, I feel that they should be required to review legitimate proposals for new stations as a public service.

    I suppose the next step is to await Ms. Bruce's presentation to parliament and hope that a brand new station isn't completely off the cards.

    P.S. If I am misinformed for any of my comment's content, particularly in regards to MRLC's lack of monetary backing, please let me know. I am relatively new to the campaign, so I may have a bit of catching up to do.

  2. Thanks for your comment. No, you're not mistaken. We have no money, nor have we ever had, or wanted any. Our only funding comes from our parent body, MCRUA, and covers what little expenditure we do have. All the 'work' of MRLC is done on a voluntary basis.
    The funding for schemes such as ours has to come, in the first instance, from the local transport authority which in our case is Cheshire East.
    They will, as all councils will, plead poverty, but there is nothing to stop them applying for grants and funding from Government and other sources and we see it as part of our job to keep the pressure on them to do so and, when we can, steer them in the right direction.
    On paper it is indeed impossible for our scheme to qualify for the 'new stations' fund. But there is no harm in Councillor Parsons talking to Fiona Bruce MP to see if there is any way round the Network Rail problem.
    Fiona, incidentally, has already raised the subject of Network Rail's 'exorbitant' charges for looking at schemes such as this one with the Secretary of State for Transport.
    The last we heard she was, somewhat inevitably, 'awaiting a reply'.
    A brand new station for Middlewich is by no means 'off the cards' as long as everyone with responsibilities in the matter does what he/she is supposed to do.


  3. Comment received from DAVID HAWKES via Email:
    Eruditely put, as ever. Perhaps even more important is your reply to the comment. The final phrase "... as long as everyone with responsibilities in the matter does what he/she is supposed to do." should be mandatory wallpaper in every government office in the land.

    "Bien fait et bon courage" as one might say in foreign climes.


  4. I popped into the new Morrison's in Middlewich on the way home from work today and I saw a van from a certain company and couldn't resist taking a picture.

    A part of me wondered if they were doing something in the area, but the logical side of me says they were just popping to the shops on their way home, much like myself.