PLANS to improve weekend and evening rail services between Hereford, Malvern, Worcester and Birmingham later this month have been welcomed by transport campaigners.

Rail users have welcomed the changes by West Midlands Trains which will see Sunday services on the Worcester-Bromsgrove-Birmingham route upgraded to hourly throughout the day, plus extra services to Malvern and Hereford.

On weekdays, an extra northbound evening service at 5.36pm Great Malvern to Worcester Foregate Street to Birmingham New Street via Bromsgrove.

This will return from New Street to Worcester Shrub Hill at 6.50pm, upgrading the peak service from the second city to half hourly between 3.50pm and 8pm.

An extra weekday service from Worcester to New Street will leave Shrub Hill at 6.50pm and the present 6.20pm New Street to Shrub Hill is extended to Hereford.

Increased demand for better service levels on Saturday evenings has led to changes which will see an hourly pattern of service between Worcester, Bromsgrove and Birmingham New Street plugging major gaps in the timetable with some trains being extended to and from Great Malvern and Hereford.

The new services have been welcomed by the Cotswold Line Promotion Group which has long been campaigning for improvements, as well as for better connections from the Cotswold Line and into other rail routes radiating from Worcester.

Julian Palfrey of the group said: "We are now urging improvements to early morning services between Worcester and Birmingham to offer an earlier morning train in each direction between Worcester and New Street.

"We have also proposed improved stock utilisation on the Worcester-Malvern-Hereford route to offer an hourly weekday service between Worcester and Hereford from 5.30am throughout the day, plugging the two-hour gap between the 5.56am and 7.42am services."