Gloucestershire could benefit from a number of improvements to rail services, according to the recent findings of a Network Rail study.

In addition to supporting planned housing and employment growth in the county, the improvements would also reduce car emissions and contribute towards the council’s carbon reduction targets.

The report outlines new infrastructure and rail services that are needed on the route between Bristol and Birmingham. Network Rail has led the study, in collaboration with partner organisations and stakeholders including Gloucestershire County Council. The findings build on the opportunities identified in the council’s own rail investment strategy, for which £150,000 of funding has already been approved.

The recommendations in Network Rail’s report include:

• An hourly Cardiff to Birmingham service calling at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury;

• A metro-style service between Gloucester and Bristol, which will initially provide two trains per hour as part of the committed MetroWest service improvements and then four trains per hour under Network Rail’s proposals;

• Improved connections to Worcester, transforming a two hourly service into a half hourly service;

• An additional Swindon to Gloucester/Cheltenham service; and

• Improved connections to the North Cotswold Line with additional stops planned for Worcestershire Parkway.

At its meeting on September 22, Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet is being asked to endorse the findings of the report and agree next steps to move the study forward. This includes the council becoming part of the Bristol to Birmingham Rail Partnership.

Cllr David Gray, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “Network Rail’s report supports and reinforces the findings of our own Gloucestershire Rail Investment Strategy. It is crucial that we continue to engage with National Rail. This will enable us to maximise the environmental and economic opportunities identified, as well as ensuring we meet existing and future demand for rail services in Gloucestershire.”