£ 500m fund to restore Beeching rail cuts goes ahead amid criticism


Boris JohnsonImage copyright PA Media
Image caption The disused Fleetwood and Poulton-le-Fylde line became once visited by the prime minister all around the usual election campaign

A authorities fund is to be launched later to revive historical railway lines closed greater than 50 years ago below the so-called Beeching cuts.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will talk over with Fleetwood to yell £21.9m for 2 railway lines and a Contemporary Stations Fund.

The £500m promise became once made within the Tory election manifesto in November.

But Labour called the conception “meaningless”, collectively with that £500m would reopen real 25 miles of railway.

And the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) described the funds as a “tumble within the ocean”.

The authorities is giving funding to develop proposals for 2 historical railway lines – £1.5m to the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne Line in Northumberland, and £100,000 to the Fleetwood line in Lancashire.

And communities shall be ready to apply for among the rest of the £500m pot to revive their lines.

Roughly 5,000 miles of song became once closed and greater than 2,300 stations had been axed within the 1960s, mainly in rural areas, followingthe Beeching document, which aimed to sever the mounting cash owed of the nationalised British Rail by laying aside duplicated routes and closing the least-feeble branch lines of the railway.

This turned identified because the Beeching cuts. The plans drew expansive opposition from rural native communities, which campaigned and efficiently averted some routes and stations from closing.

In his talk over with to the Fleetwood and Poulton-le-Fylde line on Tuesday, which became once closed in 1970, Mr Shapps is anticipated to verbalize work is starting up to “undo the injure of the Beeching cuts” by investing in transport hyperlinks to help native economies flourish and verify that regions “are better connected”.

Of us in Fleetwood, a city of 25,000 that is hemmed in on the Lancashire fly, told us unanimously that reopening their defunct rail line to nearby Poulton-le-Fylde would possibly maybe well be a factual element.

They are saying their city has misplaced so mighty over time and they hope that restoring the railway would help regenerate the house and sever congestion on the roads.

The authorities is currently falling over itself to again insurance policies that reinforce regional connectivity across the nation. Valid take into consideration its bailout for the regional airline Flybe.

But nowadays’s announcement is solely a tentative step in direction of recreating a functioning railway to Fleetwood. An evaluate of the industrial and social case will now be utilized. The funding – £100,000 – is peanuts for now.

If the evaluate is determined, extra cash will utter.

On the opposite hand, even £500m (the general funding pledged for reopening lines sever all around the Beeching know-how) is no longer a wide sum of cash in railway infrastructure phrases.

Michael Byng, a railway constructing e book, believes reopening the Colne to Skipton line near Leeds would designate round £368m by itself.

He believes that reopening the rail line to Fleetwood, which does salvage a tram that runs along the fly to Blackpool, would no longer be cash properly spent and diversified ideas fancy bettering the connectivity of the tram itself wants to be notion to be.

Commenting on the proposals, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “The Conservatives claim to were reversing Beeching cuts since 2017 no matter no longer reopening an drag of song.

“Investing within the railway is an incredible policy however right here is meaningless with out a severe funding commitment of billions of pounds.

“The timing of this announcement is moreover suspicious and seems designed to distract from the drawing shut give scheme of the Northern Rail franchise.”

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Media captionVolunteer utter driver Chris Cubitt and North Yorkshire Moors Railway usual supervisor Philip Benham on 50 years since Beeching Axe rail document

Mick Cash, usual secretary of the RMT became once equally sceptical about the authorities’s plans.

“RMT welcomes any investment in our railways however £500m is a tumble within the ocean when put next with what’s indisputably required to join our abandoned communities and reverse decades of cuts to infrastructure and repairs,” he said.

“Step one is to stay the chaos, profiteering and fragmentation of privatisation. The rest is proper window dressing and nobody shall be fooled.”

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