TWENTY years or so ago, I remember reading one of Bill Bryson's excellent travel books and feeling that frisson of pride and excitement when he mentioned Devizes.

As a Londoner, I never get that sensation about the city of my birth as we all see that great city mentioned hundreds of times a day. But here was my adopted town getting a mention in a book that was right there in the Sunday Times bestseller list. I was looking forward to reading Mr Bryson's opinions on our lovely town.

I knew that, like me, he'd be mesmerised by the Market Place, bowled over by the Bear, captivated by the canal and generally in raptures about the general look and feel of the place. But I was to be disappointed. Des Moines' favourite son only mentioned Devizes to say why he wasn't coming: slow bus connections and no railway station.

Nothing much has changed in the intervening two decades. Sure, the town has grown and the bus connection to Swindon has improved a bit but, despite there being a railway line only a couple of miles to the east of the town, our nearest stations are half an hour's drive away or more. When I was briefly a town councillor, I remember a promise of a feasibility study into a new station by 2015. That seems to have been forgotten. Devizes is the largest town in Wiltshire not to have a railway station.

Now, though, we have hope. There's no chance of the old station and branch line re-opening – that will remain a ghost from the year when England won the World Cup, Udo Jürgens (no, me neither) sang Austria to glory at Eurovision and William Hartnell morphed into Patrick Troughton. What we're looking at here is a new parkway station on the stretch of line between Pewsey and Westbury near Lydeway.

Some people have been dismissing this plan as nothing more than just another pipe dream. They point to the costs, the logistics, the demand, the route, Brexit, the price of eggs and many other things. To them, I will misquote the voice in Field of Dreams: "If you build it, they will come".

First, there will be the leisure and pleasure travellers, many of whom drive because it's too much of a faff to use public transport. I, for one, go to London at least a dozen times a year for cricket, football and shows. I tend to do bus to Swindon then the train but it's not quick. A short drive, connecting bus (that would be needed), a relatively cheap taxi or a bike ride would make the journey much more accessible. One man, a dozen times a year, is no reason for a station, but there are loads like me.

Then there are business travellers. The Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) has evidence that a railway station would bring economic benefits from greater commercial activity and encouraging higher paid, higher skilled employees to move to the area. The option to travel by train is seen as a positive when people make these decisions.

It's not as if we'd be encouraging such people to come to a technological backwater. We have a few local companies flying the flag for the UK and Devizes and around the world. Take Varivane, for example. They did work on HMS Queen Elizabeth, our new aircraft carrier as, I believe, did Wadworth. Varivane is currently involved in another major overseas project. Let's get more in companies in to join them.

Finally, and for me, this is the biggie, it was GWR who came up with the idea. They're getting new rolling stock on the Bedwyn line. To make it pay, they want to extend the service to Frome.

Whilst they're doing that, they might as well stop at Devizes and get a few more passengers. Funding is likely to come from many sources, including GWR, Network Rail and SWLEP.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Devizes. Let's get behind it. We have nothing to lose and plenty to gain.

By Don Jones