RAIL campaigners have welcomed news that passengers on the Cotswold Line linking Worcestershire with London will enjoy an hourly service next year.

Train operator Great Western Railway is still working on details of a new timetable to come into force in December 2018.

But the pledge of at least one train an hour in both directions on weekdays and Saturdays was welcomed by members of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group at its annual meeting in Moreton-in-Marsh on Saturday.

There will also be extra weekday peak trains towards Oxford, Reading and London in the morning and back from London in late afternoon, as well as the hourly service.

Group chairman John Ellis said: “We are waiting keenly for 2018, when the introduction of the new InterCity Express Trains will provide us for the first time with a regular hourly service between Worcester and London.”

Mr Ellis said the group wanted to see more trains calling at Ascott-under-Wychwood and Shipton, to offer better travel opportunities for residents.

GWR’s regional development manager Tom Pierpoint said: “In December 2018, we will have a much-improved baseline, with new trains, more capacity on those trains, some faster journey times and at least one per hour between Worcester and London.”

He told the meeting that journey times would be around two hours between London and the new Worcestershire Parkway station, which is due to open in the winter of 2018-19.

He said the company was finalising designs for £245,000 of improvements at Kingham, which will include a waiting area and shop.

GWR is also working with Wychavon District Council and Worcestershire County Council on plans for extra car parking at Pershore. A site has been identified on land north of the line owned by Wychavon Council. It will have an access off the A44, but will require a new footbridge to allow passengers to reach the platform.