A CAMPAIGN is gaining momentum to reopen a rural train station closed more than 40 years ago.

Support for the proposal to reopen Beeston Castle and Tarporley Railway Station is sought from villages and communities within 15 minutes' drive of the location.

City Cllr Doug Haynes (Ind, Tattenhall) has asked parish councils to put pressure on Chester City Council to lean on Cheshire County Council which has more power to influence what happens.

He wrote: 'You may be aware that in 2001 a survey was conducted by Cheshire Community Council into the transport needs of villages in the near vicinity of the station site and the results of that survey, published in 2003, unfortunately showed that the population was insufficient to support the reopening of the station through which trains travel from Crewe to Chester - 26 miles without stopping.

'A number of flaws in the survey convinced the project steering group there were, and are, other potential rail users not included in the survey such as visitors to the attractions of the Beeston area who have to travel largely by car.

'It was further realised that if the catchment area was extended to encompass those living within 15 minutes drive-time the station then there would be a population of some 19,000 people.'

Cllr Haynes said it was a problem having to travel by car to Crewe to join the West Coast Main Line and the Manchester Airport link. In addition, it was an issue having to go by road to Chester to catch trains to North Wales.

Some people also had no choice other than to commute by car to Chester and Crewe.

Rail enthusiasts requested the county council consider the idea of reopening the station in its new local transport plan, but this was not done.

The county did, however, ask consultants to look at the issue again last year but they concluded the £3m station proposal was not viable. However, they only considered potential demand within a 5km radius stating that the Strategic Rail Authority and Network Rail would not consider potential travellers beyond that zone.

But the transport minister's parliamentary under-secretary of state, Tom Harris, has clarified that the catchment area should reflect 'all local circumstances' and guidelines did not specify a particular distance as being acceptable.