The Department for Transport has confirmed that it is working alongside a variety of groups, exploring the possibility of reopening lines originally closed in the 1960s as part of the Beeching cuts.
Last year, Transport Minister Chris Grayling announced that he was encouraging both the public and private sector to submit proposals for projects to reinstate old railway lines.
Campaign groups have now been given fresh hope in the fight to bring back services that were cut over 50 years ago.
Due to confidentiality issues, the DfT are not yet able to release details of the proposed plans, however they hope to provide more information in 2019.
Dr Richard Beeching is one of the most infamous names in railway history, responsible for the closure of more than 2,300 stations, and around 6,000 miles of railway line. In the years since groups from across the UK have been fighting to bring back their community’s rail links.
One of the most successful examples of this is the Borders Railway, connecting Edinburgh and the Central Borders town of Tweedbank, with passenger numbers far exceeding original predictions – since reopening in 2015, the railway has seen more than four million passengers use the half-hourly service from Scotland’s capital; and there are now calls for the remaining line from Tweedbank to Carlisle, via the Border’s biggest town of Hawick, to be reopened.
Before the line reopened to Tweedbank, Hawick was the furthest centre of population from a rail station on the UK mainland.
What did the officials say?
A DfT spokesperson said that
“we are continuing to grow the rail network to deliver improvements for passengers, unlocking new housing and support for the economy, including exploring opportunities in restoring previously lost capacity.
“We have received a wide variety of proposals to enhance the railway from across the public and private sector, and are working with promoters to explore opportunities to re-open routes cut under Beeching.”
ScotRail Managing Director, Alex Haynes said that
“the growth of the Borders railway is actually accelerating which means we are going to have to operate longer trains on this route and I think there is more growth to come as well. The restoration of the line had already impacted communities along its route in a very positive way.”
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