PLANS to bring “vital investment” to the district by extending the platform at Stonehouse rail station have been met with approval.

Network Rail’s plans have been given the support of Stroud MP David Drew and Stonehouse Town Council.

The application would see platforms one and two extended by 99 and 94 metres respectively, more than doubling the total length to 160 metres and allowing for trains with extra capacity.

There is hope that this could kick-start plans to reopen Stonehouse’s second train station in Bristol Road, which would provide a fast link to Bristol.

Stonehouse Mayor Theresa Watt told the SNJ that this extension brings “vital investment” into what is the “gateway to Stroud”.

“We welcome the investment and from this we can bring in high-speed and longer trains to Stonehouse,” she said.

“Passengers will be able to get off the train wherever they like instead of having to squeeze into several carriages.

“This is vital investment, we are after all the gateway to the Stroud Valleys, but what we really hope is that they will open the other station in Bristol Road.”

Stroud MP Mr Drew also welcomed the new plans.

“It’s a good thing,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be a problem approving these plans and, with grandfather rights at the station, the line will always have trains coming in, so there’s never going to be fear that the line could be lost, though we may need to think about building more car parking space.”

The reopening of the second station would provide vital transport links from the Five Valleys down to Bristol and up to Gloucester, as well as making it easier for home and away supporters travelling to watch Forest Green Rovers if a new stadium is built at planned Eco Park.

Gloucestershire county councillor for Stonehouse, Lesley Williams (Lab), said the platform extension “sounds like really good news.”

“This is long overdue,” she said.

“I do think that it will help make this a place where more people will come to.

“The cost of reopening the other station is huge and very complicated, but this is a start.

“If it is going to draw more people in we will need to think about car parking – it is already a well-used station.”

Large businesses in Stonehouse such as Renishaw and Sartorius could benefit from more train capacity, which the platform extension would bring, with more employees able to commute to work from further afield.

One of Stonehouse’s three Stroud district councillors, Gary Powell (Lab), said: “At SDC we will support any plans which will bring important support for services, especially transport – it really needs it.

“We’re still hoping that the old station in Bristol Road will be reopened eventually. I used it frequently as a boy and would love to see it back up and running.”

Network Rail’s proposal includes changes the footbridge over the track, which the extensions will stretch past, such rotating the steps on the Verney Road side of the station.

Former Stroud MP Neil Carmichael, who pushed for the Bristol Road station to be re-opened while in office, also welcomed Network Rail’s planning application.

“I am delighted that the platform at the Stonehouse station is being extended but I also hope plans for the reopening of the Stonehouse Bristol Road station are also advanced,” he said.

Network Rail hopes to begin work on the extension this December and have the project finished by May.

A spokesman said: “The changes allow for the introduction of 5 car Class 165/166 DMU (Diesel Multiple Vehicles) and Class 800 IEP (Intercity Express Programme) trains. This will increase passenger capacity in line with the forecast growth of rail usage.”

To view the full proposals by Network Rail, visit the SDC planning website and search for application S.17/1501/P18A.