The UK Department of Transport (DfT) has announced a GBP 500 million (EUR 591 million) investment as part of a programme to restore the railway lines closed more than 50 years ago. The funding will help the development of the proposals and accelerate the delivery of schemes that are already being considered for restoration, making possible the rapid reopening of certain stations and lines.
“Investing in transport links is essential to levelling up access to opportunities across the country, ensuring our regions are better connected, local economies flourish and more than half a century of isolation is undone,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.
During a visit to the Fleetwood and Poulton-le-Fylde line, Grant Shapps launched the new investment that will drive forward the reversal of the controversial Beeching cuts. The Fleetwood line was closed in 1970.
The cuts, which were initially proposed by British Rail chief Richard Beeching in 1963, ended passenger services on around a third of the rail network, closing more than 2,300 stations and up to 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of track across the UK. The thousands of miles of railway that were axed under the Beeching cuts are in various states of repair. Some still maintain freight services, some sit unused and overgrown whilst others have been built over or converted to cycle routes or pathways.
A GBP 21.9 million (EUR 25.9 million) funding for two routes and New Stations Fund was announced. The communities are invited to pitch their restoration proposals direct to government.
To launch the reversal scheme, the government is also giving funding to develop proposals for re-opening two lines in the near future. GBP 1.5 million (EUR 1.77 million) will be allotted for the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne Line in Northumberland, in North East England, while GBP 100,000 (EUR 118,255) to the Fleetwood line in Lancashire,in North West England.
Recognising that not all growing towns can re-open previously existing stations, and that some areas may never have been served by rail, the government is also announcing a fresh round of the New Stations Fund with a GBP 20 million (EUR 23.6 million) investment. Two previous rounds of the scheme have already helped develop 10 brand new stations across England and Wales.