HS2

28.01.20

£500m promised by Government to restore historic rail lines

Remote communities across the country will see the benefit from better rail connections, set to advance regional economies and boost access to jobs and education, following a £500m fund to kickstart the restoration of lines closed over 50 years ago.

Speaking on a visit to the Fleetwood and Poulton-le-Fylde line Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launched the new investment that will push forward the reversal of the controversial Beeching cuts. The Fleetwood line was closed in 1970.

Initially proposed by British Rail chief Dr Richard Beeching, the cuts 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 of track across the UK.

In light of launching the scheme, the government is also giving funding to develop proposals for reopening two lines in the near future: £1.5m to the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne-Line in Northumberland, and £100,000 to the Fleetwood line in Lancashire.

The government are aware that not all growing towns can re-open formerly existing stations, and that some areas may never have had a rail service, the government is also announcing a fresh round of the New Stations Fund.

Two previous rounds of the scheme have already effectively developed 10 new stations across England and Wales. The new round will be allocated £20m.

MPs, local authorities and community groups across England have been invited by the Transport Secretary to present ideas on how they could use funding to reinstate terminated local services. £300,000 has been committed to an ‘Ideas Fund’ to kickstart the process to encourage innovative ideas that will then be considered for further funding in the future.

The Government will also consult Network Rail and train operators which will be instrumental in delivering the benefits to communities.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“Many communities still live with the scars that came from the closure of their local railway more than five decades ago. Today sees work begin to undo the damage of the Beeching cuts by restoring local railways and stations to their former glory.

“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.”

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:

“This is an exciting moment as we look to revitalise our railways, reconnect communities and reinvigorate our country.

“Local MPs, councillors and community leaders are the greatest champions of their local lines, and we want to work closely together to ensure the projects with the greatest potential have the support they need.

“There will also be opportunities for towns who have lost stations to receive a boost, as we launch another round of our New Stations Fund.”

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