Fifteen projects to reopen railways and stations closed in the Beeching era have been awarded up to £50,000 each to progress their plans.
More than 50 years since the railways were radically reshaped, including thousands of lines and stations closed during the infamous cuts of the 1960s, this latest investment by the Department for Transport (DfT) is intended to kick-start work on schemes that reconnect previously cut-off communities, with the potential to reinvigorate local economies and level up opportunity across the country.
Schemes awarded funding include:
- Restoring Ferryhill station in Sedgefield, demolished alongside Mainsforth Colliery in 1969;
- Returning services to Consett in the North East;
- Bringing back a station close to the medieval Beeston Castle in Cheshire;
- Reinstating services for communities around Ashfield on the Maid Marian Line.
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps commented: “For towns and villages left isolated and forgotten by Beeching cuts, restoring a rail line or a station has the potential to revitalise a community.
“It breathes new life into our high streets, drives investment in businesses and housing, and opens new opportunities for work and education.
“By building back with a real focus on better connections and supporting left-behind communities, we’re delivering our promise to level up this country.”
This is the second round of the Restoring Your Railway ‘Ideas Fund’ to progress plans to deliver new routes and improved connectivity, as well as developing plans for new stations to areas poorly served by public transport. The first round was announced in May 2020.
Over the summer, proposals from MPs and local authorities were considered by an expert panel, including Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris and Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy, after 51 bids were received earlier this year.
To come up with the final list of 15, entries were judged on their ability to deliver real economic benefits and support left-behind communities, with investment targeted at regenerating local economies by:
- Supporting new house developments;
- Opening up access to jobs and education;
- Boosting tourism’
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, who was one of the judges, said: “From restoring historic stations at Ferryhill and Langport, to reinstating passenger services on the Maid Marian Line and transforming rail connections around Bolton, Bury and Consett, our investment will provide the vital links that people depend on.”
Among the winning bids is a scheme to reinstate passenger services from Bolton to Manchester through Radcliffe with a radial Metrolink – running through some of the most economically deprived parts of the UK.
A proposal for a Mid-Cornwall Metro has also been awarded development funding which would create a coast to coast through-service connecting the biggest towns in Cornwall – Newquay, Par, St Austell, Truro, Penryn and Falmouth – reducing journey times and easing road congestion.
A further 28 bids will receive further guidance to help develop and refine their ideas for assessment in future funding rounds.
The full list of successful applicants in both the first and second rounds of the Restoring Your Railway ‘Ideas Fund’ is:
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