The Department for Transport has begun the formal consultation procedure to close Norton Bridge station in Staffordshire.
The station has been served only by a replacement bus service since 2004, when the platforms were taken out of use to facilitate the West Coast route modernisation. DfT believes the new West Midlands rail franchise provides an opportunity to decide as to the station’s future, and is proposing the replacement bus be withdrawn and the station formally closes either when the franchises begins in October 2017 or at the timetable change in December of that year.
DfT says a formal assessment has shown that constructing a new station would likely cost £18 million and could only be served by a very limited train service, as the disused platforms are on the fast lines of the West Coast main line. It has also concluded that this move would generate very few new rail journeys and would have a negative net present value of £19.7 million. In contrast, the withdrawal of the current £40,000 per year subsidy provided for the replacement bus would yield a positive net present value of £0.9 million over a 60-year appraisal period. The bus is part-funded by Staffordshire County Council, which would review its provision if the DfT funding were withdrawn.
The station’s closure would need to be ratified by the Office of Rail and Road following the formal consultation, which runs until 3 February 2017.