Owen Paterson MP at the Park Hall Halt
Transport minister Grant Shapps is being urged to fund a project to reopen a short stretch of railway that would link the mainline to a Shropshire specialist hospital. The Cambrian Railways – which operates the heritage railway in Oswestry – has applied for funding from a Government pot of cash to re-open some of the lines axed by the infamous Dr Beeching in the 1960s. It says the money could prove a lifeline for the first phase of its plans to restore services between the town and Gobowen Railway Station. Phase one would restore half a mile of track between Gobowen and the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital. North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson visited the old Park Hall Halt on what was the Oswestry to Gobowen line and said the restoration would be "unbelievably easy" to achieve. "You can still see the platform, the bridge looks in good order and all the track is even there," he said. "I am pressing Grant Shapps for urgent talks about allocating funding to get this line up and running again. It would mean patients, staff and visitors to the hospital could arrive on a special light railway. The halt is just at the end of one of the car parks for the hospital just a few hundred yards from the main entrance." The restoration is being championed by Cambrian Railways and has the support of both Shropshire Council and Oswestry Town Council. Dave Rolls from Cambrian Railways said, "We would like in the long term to re-open the entire three-mile stretch from Gobowen to Oswestry, though this would involve crossing the A5 trunk road. However the shorter link between Gobowen and Park Hall – for the orthopaedic – is ‘oven ready’ and could be pressed back into use very quickly. The track, about half a mile, is there and only needs a little maintenance such as a few sleepers replacing. We own it all the way to the sidings at Gobowen. The platform is in place at Park Hall and there would just have to be some work to the bridge. We have been very heartened by the news that the Prime Minister is keen to see rail routes axed by Beeching re-opened.” The Gobowen to Oswestry rail route was one of the casualties of Dr Beeching, cutting the town, once a major railway engineering hub, off from the mainline in the 1960s.