Home Rail News £500 million for Beeching-reversal

£500 million for Beeching-reversal

The growing movement to reverse some of the infamous ‘Beeching cuts’ of 1963 has received a £500 million boost from government.

Dr Richard Beeching published his report “The Reshaping of British Railways” on 27 March 1963. It proposed the closure of 2,363 stations and 6,000 route miles of railway, and that some other lines should lose their passenger services and be used for freight only.

Despite local protests, the bulk of his recommendations were carried out. Not all were implemented – there were some notable exceptions such as the Settle to Carlisle line – but many areas of the country lost their railway services. The plan was, in some cases, to replace trains with buses, while in other areas the report sought to remove duplication and give passengers a single route between destinations.

Today, the popularity of train travel is increasing and government is promoting it as a way of reducing carbon emissions. It is therefore natural that there should be calls to reopen some of the routes and stations that were closed in the sixties.

One notable success story was the Borders railway. The original Waverley Route, 98 miles from Edinburgh to Carlisle via Hawick, was one of the last railways to close under Beeching, in 1969. The northern 35 miles, from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, reopened as the Borders railway In 2015.

Back in November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to spend £500 million on reopening rail lines axed by Beeching. 

Now the Government has committed £21.9 million to two routes and a new stations fund. £1.5 million will be used to develop proposals for the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne line in Northumberland, while £100,000 for the same purpose goes to the Fleetwood line in Lancashire.

An ‘ideas fund’ will be created so that proposals can be brought forward for future investment – this will get £300,000 – and £20 million goes to the New Stations Fund which, in earlier guises, has already been involved in reopening 10 stations around the country:

  • Pye Corner, Wales – opened 14 December 2014
  • Newcourt, Exeter – opened 4 June 2015
  • Lea Bridge, London – opened 16 May 2016
  • Ilkeston, Derby – opened 2 April 2017
  • Kenilworth, Warwickshire – 30 April 2018
  • Warrington West station, Cheshire – 16 December 2019
  • Bow Street station, Ceredigion, Wales – opening 2020
  • Reading Green Park station, Berkshire – opening 2020
  • Hordon Peterlee station, County Durham – opening 2020
  • Portway Parkway, Bristol – opening 2020

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Many communities still live with the scars that came from the closure of their local railway more than five 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.” 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Hello,
    I am a long time out of the rail business, so my interest is only as a potential user and/or care for the use of the ‘public purse’.
    Locally there is a proposal to reconnect Portishead to the rail network to relieve acute road congestion. The current proposal is to use the Avon Gorge line (currently used for freight to/from Portbury Docks). There is little added ridership available on this (~8mile) route and the proposed frequency of service is pitiful.
    From a ‘network’ point of view, a bridge across the Avon to the nearby Severn Beach Line instead would:-
    – Give the residents of Portishead better access to both Bristol Parkway, Temple Meads and the many employers in S Gloucestershire.
    – Increase ridership on the Severn Beach line which may justify redoubling and/or increased frequency on that line.
    – Provide a more convincing justification for the re-opening of a through route and station at Henbury (The latter is the subject of much ‘virtue signalling’ by local politicians).
    I know there are navigation issues with a swing bridge but river traffic is minimal nowadays and is mostly recreational. There is also a great need for a cycle and pedestrian crossing at this point – the only alternative is a path attached to the M5 Avon Bridge.
    Anyway, just a thought on how to increase the value of reversing Beeching.
    Regards
    Bob Wilcox
    P.S. Please send my regards to Clive Kessell. He may remember me from my Westinghouse days in the 80s

  2. Let’s see the Penrith-to-Keswick re-opening project receive a much-needed push from Government. Much hard work has gone into this by local railway-engineer Cedric Martindale. Over the past two decades he has raised funds, demonstrated feasibility and garnered significant local public support. But intransigence on the part of certain local-body representatives has prevented progress to date. This project ticks all the boxes as a worthy candidate for ‘Beeching-reversal’.

  3. Most of the re-openings would involve laying new track (to use the example of the Portishead line, about 3 miles of derelict permanent way would need complete replacement, together with the grubbing up of trees, repair of earthworks and new drainage).

    It might be a good idea to use the re-openings as an opportunity to try new methods of constructing track, to gain experience and identify problems, with a view to using the new methods more widely. In Rail Engineer for 22nd April 2014, the article ‘Sand and Ballast Don’t Mix’ mentions the Tubular Modular Track system, a ballast-less system which appears to be much cheaper to install than slab-based systems but which has much lower maintenance requirements than conventional ballasted track. The system has been used for some time for passenger and heavy-haul lines in South Africa and elsewhere. Since both the width of formation and depth of the structure required are less than those for ballasted track TMT might be usefully employed for improving clearances, for example in tunnels on lines to be electrified.

  4. Currently all national rail services terminate at Paignton in Torbay, meaning catching a bus for onward travel to Churston / Brixham & Kingswear. The buses never marry up with the trains leaving quite a wait sometimes. I would like to see some of the commuter trains start/terminate at Kingswear for Dartmouth. These could be run before the first steam train and after the last one so would not interfere with the steam services at all. It’s a shame that GWR couldn’t at least try to negotiate access with the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway.

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