Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines has said restoring abandoned railway lines is among the key solutions to secure the future of the industry.
As the rail industry looks to rebuild and figure out how to recover and come back stronger in a post-Covid world, plans and ideas to reinstate stations and restore passenger services closed during the 1960s Beeching cuts are being supported by the Department of Transport (DtF).
It was revealed that 85 rail schemes are competing for investment under the third and final round of the Restoring Your Railway ideas fund, with successful proposals to be awarded up to £50,000 each.
Haines said “We have a Prime Minister who really wants to invest and who believes in Beeching line reopening,"
"He is on our case week after week about the Northumberland line and Okehampton line because these are passionate commitments.
In the last funding round, backers of 15 proposals were awarded cash to develop their business cases. Ten schemes won backing in the first round.
Work has already began on the Dartmoor line between Exeter and Okehampton, the first project to see services resume under the government fund. Services are expected to restart later this year on the 14-mile stretch of railway for the first time in almost 50 years providing a regular, daily passenger rail service.
This investment coincides with the 150th anniversary of the railway first arriving in Okehampton in 1871. December is currently pencilled in for the start of a two-hourly service – with that becoming hourly in 2022.
Haines added “The government is also interested in them being affordable not because they want to spend less money but because they want more things to do. That is fundamental. There’s no point talking about big plans unless we can talk about big efficiencies as well.”