Campaigners are urging the Department of Transport to set up funding for some of Britain's lost railway lines, after announcments were made to spend a record £48 billion on rail projects between 2019 and 2024.
The 'Campaign for Better Transport' organisation has written to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP urging him to introduce a new fund to pay for the opening of additional railway lines and stations across the country to help reverse some of Dr Beeching’s infamous cuts.
Campaigners argue a Network Development Fund could pay for the development and implementation of new or reopened lines and stations to give communities better access to employment and education; reduce pressure on the road network; and unlock plans for new housing and other development.
Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “There a huge is demand for new or reinstated rail connections out there, but very few means of making them a reality. We regularly hear from local authorities, developers and communities with very good proposals who have reached a brick wall when it comes to funding. That’s why we’re asking the Transport Secretary to create a new Network Development Fund and help reverse some of the damage done to our railways by Dr Beeching’s hatchet job more than sixty years ago.”
The organisation has a number of closed lines in mind which people are currently campaigning to have reopened - or at least protected from development so that they can later be reopened. These include some forgotten routes such as the portishead to Bristol line, the Worcester to Derby Main Line Railway between Stourbridge and Burton, the Fleetwood to Preston line and many more.
The new Network Development Fund proposed by Campaign for Better Transport could help address this gap by paying for project development supported by a new approvals process. Proposals for new and reopened stations and lines which reach an agreed standard could then join a pool of national projects creating a pipeline of schemes to be taken to full development and implementation.
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