The UK Government has announced £500m of funding to help reconnect towns across the country by kick-starting cuts made to the railway network in the 1960s and 1970s.
The cuts, proposed by British Rail Chairman Dr Richard Beeching in 1963, ended passenger services on around a third of the rail network, closing up to 5,000 miles of track and more than 2,300 railway stations across the UK.
Commenting, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP said: “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.”
The £500 million funding pot will help reconnect towns across the country, and includes £21.9 million of funding for a 2 routes and New Stations Fund, with MPs, local authorities, and community groups across England invited to pitch their restoration proposals directly to government. The government has also said it will consult Network Rail and train operators on how best to deliver the benefits of the reversal scheme to communities.
To launch the reversal scheme, the government is also giving funding to develop proposals for re-opening two lines in the near future, namely the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne Line in Northumberland, and the Fleetwood Line in Lancashire.
Commenting, CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “£500 million is only a drop in the ocean of the money required to deliver the ‘infrastructure revolution’ the Government has promised.
“However, today’s announcement focuses on providing development funding to get projects to the point that they can be built. Moreover, this is only the beginning of the reversal of the Beeching cuts, which will be a long-term process, but one that CECA has campaigned for for many years.
“The funding announced today provides a great opportunity for industry to work with promotors to develop deliverable projects ahead of future phases of Beeching reversal funding.
“A reinvigorated rail network will act as a springboard for the UK economy after we have left the European Union, driving growth, creating job opportunities, and delivering connectivity for communities across all parts of the UK.”