Last edited 11 Feb 2021

Beeching cuts

In 1963 British Rail chief Dr Richard Beeching proposed cuts that ended passenger services on around a third of the UK rail network, closing more than 2,300 stations and up to 5,000 miles of track.

The parts of the railway that were axed remain in various states of repair. Some still maintain freight services, some sit unused and overgrown whilst others have been built over or converted to cycle routes or pathways.

On 28 January 2020 the government pledged £500 million to bring back historic rail lines, improving connectivity for communities across the country and reversing the Beeching cuts.

Originally announced by the Prime Minister in November 2019, the investment was launched by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps during a visit to the Fleetwood and Poulton-le-Fylde line which was closed in 1970. Shapps suggested that long-isolated communities across the country will benefit from better rail connections and a New Stations Fund, and communities were invited to pitch their restoration proposals.The government is also giving funding to develop proposals for re-opening the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne Line in Northumberland and the Fleetwood line in Lancashire.

The Transport Secretary invited MPs, local authorities and community groups across England to come forward with proposals for how they could use funding to reinstate local services. £300,000 has been committed to a fund to encourage innovative ideas that will then be considered for further funding. The £500 million fund will help develop these proposals and accelerate the delivery of schemes that are already being considered for restoration.

Shapps said:

“Many communities still live with the scars that came from the closure of their local railway more than 5 decades ago. Today sees work begin to undo the damage of the Beeching cuts by restoring local railways and stations to their former glory.

“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.

“Recognising that not all growing towns can re-open previously existing stations, and that some areas may never have been served by rail, the government is also announcing a fresh round of the New Stations Fund. Two previous rounds of the scheme have already helped develop 10 brand new stations across England and Wales. The new round will be allocated £20 million.”

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:

“The benefits of reversing the Beeching cuts have already been seen. In 2015, a short stretch of line called the ‘Todmorden Curve’ was restored, supported by £8.8 million of government funding, enabling direct services from Burnley and Accrington to Manchester. Ilkeston Junction Station was also successfully reopened in 2017 – after 40 years of Ilkeston being the largest town in England without any train service."


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