The new Conservative Government has committed to restoring many of the closed Beeching lines reconnecting those small towns that have suffered permanent disadvantage since they were removed from the rail network in the 1960s.
In the last few weeks, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has allocated £500m to reopen former train lines and build new stations in the North of England and the Midlands.
These routes were closed in the 1960s following a report from the then British Rail Chair, Dr Richard Beeching.
Beeching’s recommendations made over 60 years ago, have had a long-term negative impact on the UK’s economic and social growth, disconnecting communities and weakening local economies.
The new Government recognises the urgent need to rebalance the economy. As such, it has pledged that this year will be a Year of Action on the railways, with the North of England – where the Conservatives saw significant gain in the General Election – at the heart of improvements. The focus will be on new trains, new stations and fairer fares.
This approach has already worked in Scotland where some lines closed by Dr Beeching have been now been reopened including Airdrie – Bathgate, Borders Railway, Stirling – Alloa and the branch link to Larkhall. Today these lines enjoy far higher ridership than originally forecast.
CECA believes that substantial underinvestment outside London and the South East is a key cause of everyday challenges on regional road and rail networks and we welcome the Government’s commitments to change the direction of travel.
To help us when we meet with the Department for Transport and Network Rail, we would like to seek members’ views on the key strategic rail routes which the Government should prioritise.
If you would like to share your views and help us in our lobbying, please contact CECA Director of External Affairs Marie-Claude Hemming.