The Department for Transport (DfT) has listed the ten projects that will share the £500,000 Restoring Your Railway ‘Ideas Fund’. The money will be used to develop proposals to build or reopen railway lines and stations, including those closed following the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.
MPs and local authorities were invited to bid for a share of the fund to help reconnect communities across the country, levelling up opportunities for people in isolated areas by increasing their access to jobs and training which will be crucial as the country recovers from coronavirus.
The total funding of £500 million is to be split into three categories:
The Ideas Fund, which has now been announced, sought proposals for projects to restore lost rail connections to communities. This could include:
- Upgrading a current freight line to include passenger services and restoring stations on it – such as the line to Ebbw Vale in South Wales;
- Restoring track and services to an old alignment – as is being done between Bicester and Bletchley;
- Modifying an old route due to construction or other unavailability over the original route.
The DfT pledged to fund 75 per cent of costs, up to £50,000, of successful proposals to help fund transport and economic studies and create a business case. Future funding to develop projects would be subject to agreement of the business case.
The second category is Accelerating Existing Proposals, with funding made available to accelerate the development and delivery of schemes that already have existing business cases.
Proposals for new or restored stations, the third category, is a competition being run by Network Rail, for which the closing date is 5 June 2020.
Interestingly, although the rules for Ideas Fund applications stated that it was for proposals to restore rail services (other than rail station creation or restoration), presumably because stations were to be covered in the third category (Network Rail’s News Station Fund competition), two of the ‘winning’ bids for the ideas fund were for reopening stations and one included creating a new one!
The list of projects that will receive up to £50,00 from the Ideas Fund is:
- Reopening Meir Railway Station between Stoke-On-Trent and North Staffordshire;
- Reinstatement of the Barrow Hill line between Sheffield and Chesterfield;
- Reinstatement of the Ivanhoe line (Leicester to Burton upon Trent, currently a freight-only line);
- Reinstatement of branch lines on the Isle of Wight;
- Reinstatement of the Abbey line between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction;
- Reopening of Wellington and Cullompton stations;
- Reinstatement of the Bury-Heywood-Rochdale lines;
- Reinstatement of the Clitheroe to Hellifield railway line;
- Reinstatement of rail access to Devizes via a new station at Lydeway;
- Reintroduction of passenger rail services on the Waterside line (freight-only line from Totton on the South West main line to Fawley and Marchwood Military Port).