EARLY plans to bring a new railway line into Cirencester are steaming ahead after a meeting with top government officials.

The capital of the Cotswolds was buzzing with excitement last week after the Standard broke the news that new track could be laid along the line to Kemble, opening Cirencester to the national rail network for the first time since 1964.

Mayor Mark Harris and Richard and Jane Gunner, of Whiteway Farm, are forging forward with the proposal which would see an ultra-modern, eco-friendly train running the 5km from station to station.

Mayor Harris, who was elected for a second term last week, said he had been “inundated with messages of support for the vision”.

“Everyone is incredibly excited about the prospect of reopening the Kemble to Cirencester railway line,” he said.

“It is important to stress that at this stage we are looking at carrying out a feasibility study which will address issues such as: is it physically possible? How will landowners be effected? Does it have public support and, crucially, will people actually use it?”

Last Wednesday he went to London to pitch the idea to the Department of Transport in order to get funds for that feasibility study.

The “Dragon’s Den-type event” included a panel of Lord Faulkner of Worcester, millionaire and train enthusiast Sir William McAlpine, senior tourism figure Debbie Wells and Mark Garnier MP.

Despite expecting a panel of technocrats, not some of the most powerful figures in Britain, Mayor Harris delivered the message that Cirencester was open for trade and tourism.

“They are awarding money for heritage and tourism, which of course this will be a major part of this line, but it will also be great for business and the wider economy,” he said.

“Whether or not this is focussed enough on tourism remains to be seen and we will hear towards the end of the month if we have been successful.

"Of course we are not banking on this line of funding alone, and we are in discussions with a wide range of bodies who are inspired by the idea.”

Any new railway line coming into Cirencester would need the backing of Lord Bathurst, who owns much of the land around the town and is at the forefront of a 2,350-home planning application at Chesterton.

He said: “The reopening of the railway line to Kemble after 50 years is certainly a worthy cause but one that needs to be carefully scrutinised in terms of viability and long term patronage.

“I look forward to seeing a feasibility study in order to assess whether the idea really is deliverable and economically viable.

“Whilst I am keen to encourage people out our their cars, my first thought was whether enough people would really drive to Chesterton to get on a train to Kemble, instead of just driving straight to Kemble.”

Meanwhile, the announcement sparked fierce debate online.

Many celebrated the news on the Standard’s Facebook page, including Jan Hilyer who said “that’s the best idea concerning Cirencester that I have heard in a very, very long time” and Tracey Luce Neė Hunter, who said “brilliant news especially for working people or people looking for jobs and students”.

She added: “Less cars on the roads is better for the environment! It was crazy to keep the village station open and close Cirencester as getting buses and taxis to Kemble are expensive.”

However, it did not find favour with everyone.

Rob Stokes said: “Terrible idea. Surely most people would simply drive to Kemble anyway as it would only be a few extra minutes? Is this not just a scheme to enhance the value of the new mega development using public money?”