Ten proposals to build or reopen railway lines and stations accepted by government Ideas Fund

Meir satatin, Stoke-on-Trent, closed in 1966 and almost nothing of it still remains.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has listed the ten projects that will share the £500,000 Restoring Your Railway ‘Ideas Fund’. The money will be used to develop proposals to build or reopen railway lines and stations, including those closed following the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

MPs and local authorities were invited to bid for a share of the fund to help reconnect communities across the country, levelling up opportunities for people in isolated areas by increasing their access to jobs and training which will be crucial as the country recovers from coronavirus.

The total funding of £500 million is to be split into three categories:

The Ideas Fund, which has now been announced, sought proposals for projects to restore lost rail connections to communities. This could include:

  • Upgrading a current freight line to include passenger services and restoring stations on it – such as the line to Ebbw Vale in South Wales;
  • Restoring track and services to an old alignment – as is being done between Bicester and Bletchley;
  • Modifying an old route due to construction or other unavailability over the original route.

The DfT pledged to fund 75 per cent of costs, up to £50,000, of successful proposals to help fund transport and economic studies and create a business case. Future funding to develop projects would be subject to agreement of the business case.

The second category is Accelerating Existing Proposals, with funding made available to accelerate the development and delivery of schemes that already have existing business cases.

Proposals for new or restored stations, the third category,  is a competition being run by Network Rail, for which the closing date is 5 June 2020.

Interestingly, although the rules for Ideas Fund applications stated that it was for proposals to restore rail services (other than rail station creation or restoration), presumably because stations were to be covered in the third category (Network Rail’s News Station Fund competition), two of the ‘winning’ bids for the ideas fund were for reopening stations and one included creating a new one!

An enthusiast special at Fawley station on the Waterside line in 1978. The line closed to passengers in 1966 but was kept open for access to Fawley oil refinery.

The list of projects that will receive up to £50,00 from the Ideas Fund is:

  • Reopening Meir Railway Station between Stoke-On-Trent and North Staffordshire;
  • Reinstatement of the Barrow Hill line between Sheffield and Chesterfield;
  • Reinstatement of the Ivanhoe line (Leicester to Burton upon Trent, currently a freight-only line);
  • Reinstatement of branch lines on the Isle of Wight;
  • Reinstatement of the Abbey line between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction;
  • Reopening of Wellington and Cullompton stations;
  • Reinstatement of the Bury-Heywood-Rochdale lines;
  • Reinstatement of the Clitheroe to Hellifield railway line;
  • Reinstatement of rail access to Devizes via a new station at Lydeway;
  • Reintroduction of passenger rail services on the Waterside line (freight-only line from Totton on the South West main line to Fawley and Marchwood Military Port).

5 Comments on "Ten proposals to build or reopen railway lines and stations accepted by government Ideas Fund"

  1. St Albans Abbey – Watford Jn was/is still open ( Closed during the pandemic )
    Clitheroe-Hellifield runs/ran weekend trains until the pandemic
    P.S. I was almost certainly on that train at Fawley ….

  2. The Ivanhoe line existed for twelve years, 1993 to 2005, in a much-reduced form of the original proposal.

    The line came into service (and is still in place) as a single-track alongside the Midland Mainline, trundling commuters in Sprinters between Leicester and Loughborough, bringing rail services back to the small towns of the Soar Valley.

    I remember commuting alongside it, and occasionally on it, around the turn of the Century: the timetable was never quite what it needed to be, for a useful ride to work.

    The East Midlands’ service that superseded it is good for Leicester and Loughborough commuters to Derby and Nottingham: but, for Barrow-on-Soar and Sileby, I would discribe it as an occasional treat for car-dependent communities who fancy a bit of a novelty.

    You wouldn’t use it for work if there was any variation at all in your working day; and maybe not even then.

    The full proposal – a ring linking the small towns from Leicester, Loughborough, and Burton – was all about restoring passenger service to towns that had lost it in the sixties, and there is a repeated finding of suppressed passenger demand in surveys taken over the last forty years: most households in the small towns have one or more wage-earner working in the large towns.

    As originally conceived, to serve that demand, it would have generated higher passenger volumes than the eventual ‘Ivanhoe Line’: but those volumes aren’t so much about the route, as they are about doing far better than occasional trundles in a single-car Sprinter.

    New rail services need to beat the bar of ‘better than nothing’ by quite a lot more than that.

  3. Desmond Tubby | 1 July 2020 at 13:26 | Reply

    We really need a link from Minehead to Taunton for connection to National services. Road connections are dreadful and a rail service would relieve pressure on buses.

    • Rail Insider | 1 July 2020 at 20:18 | Reply

      Would the West Somerset Railway run a scheduled service, perhaps using a couple of redundant Pacer trains?

  4. Over the past 50 years, I have lived and worked in Leamington Spa and commuted to Coventry, Rugby, and Stratford upon Avon to work. However, public transport simply failed to provide adequate commute to enable me to get to any of my employments on time. A mere 10 miles in any direction between four reasonably large population centres. I cycled the distances until through age, I finally had to accept driving my car. Improvement in local public transport is a must if we are to pay more than just lip service to our desires to improve our environment whilst still retaining as much of our economy as possible.
    The £500 million available to improve ordinary lines is very welcome but is mere chicken feed compared to the £80 Billion plus (!) being spent on the dreadfully white elephant of HS2 which has clearly lost a major part of its business plan (if it ever had any) since C-19 showed us that so much can now be done by working at home, anyway.
    HS2 – probably the biggest ever ride we are being taken for.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*