Government steps up plans to reverse historical rail route cuts

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The Government is going ahead with plans to reverse historical rail cuts, despite critics warning its £500 million budget is not sufficient.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is due to visit Fleetwood on Tuesday with a pledge to give £100,000 towards a feasibility study into reopening the train line linking the Lancashire town to Poulton-le-Fylde.

The Fleetwood line was shut in 1970 as part of a ripping-up of Britain’s tracks, as recommended by the Beeching Report.

Transport – British Rail – Trunk Rail Routes Report – Dr Richard Beeching – Marylebone – London
Dr Richard Beeching points out details on a large map on how he thought the network would look in 1984 (PA)

Another area that could benefit from the £500 million fund designed to restore passenger services is Blyth, with Mr Shapps granting £1.5 million towards generating ideas for re-establishing the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne line in Northumberland.

The announcement comes after Blyth Valley elected a Conservative MP for the first time in its history at the December election.

RAIL Beeching
(PA Graphics)

“Today sees work begin to undo the damage of the Beeching cuts by restoring local railways and stations to their former glory.”

Borders Railway
Tweedbank railway station has been restored to the network since falling to the Beeching axe (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Sim Harris, managing editor of industry newspaper Railnews, told PA news agency that reopening many of the lines which fell victim to the Beeching cuts would cost “billions”.

One of the last major re-openings of a line in Britain was the Borders Railway in September 2015.

The £294 million link between Edinburgh and Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders re-established part of the former Waverley line, which fell victim to the Beeching cuts.

50th anniversary of Beeching report
Great Glen railway station which was closed in 1964 following the Beeching Report and is now occupied by a commercial business (Joe Giddens/PA)

Two previous rounds of the scheme helped lead to the development of 10 new stations across England and Wales, said the Department for Transport (DfT).

It comes as reports surfaced this week that Mr Shapps is considering taking the Northern franchise back into public control.

The Arriva-owned franchise has been dogged by a series of cancellations and late-running services after it introduced a new timetable in May 2018.

A DfT spokeswoman told PA news agency an announcement would be made this week.

“We continue to develop contingency plans for the replacement of the current franchise, and will set out next steps by the end of the month,” said the spokeswoman.

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