Demand from North West to restore Beeching lines as funding deadline closes

Ten bids to build or reopen lines and stations closed during the Beeching cuts have been received from across the North West.

They have the potential to level up regional economies and boost access to jobs and education, said Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris today (June 30).

MPs and local authorities have bid for a share of the second round of the Restoring Your Railway ‘Ideas Fund’, to develop proposals to build or reopen railway lines and stations, including those closed by British Rail chief Dr Richard Beeching from 1963.

Proposals for the restoration of lines and stations to re-connect their communities will now be considered by an expert panel, including Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy, with announcements regarding the successful schemes expected by the end of the Summer.

The Rail Minister announced that 50 proposals have been submitted from across the country.

These include proposals from MPs in the North West to reopen Midge Hall Railway Station and reinstate the Bolton-Radcliffe/Bolton-Bury line.

Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Receiving so many bids once again underlines how passionate people are about reconnecting communities.

“Local MPs, councillors and community leaders are the greatest champions of their local lines, and I look forward to working with them to ensure the projects with the greatest potential have the support they need.”

He added: “Improving local transport links is vital as we level up access to opportunities across the country, reconnect communities and kick-start our recovery from COVID-19.”

Today’s news follows the announcement in May that 10 bids will receive a share of the first round of the Restoring Your Railway ‘Ideas Fund’.

Two schemes in the North West were awarded up to £50,000 each to progress plans to improve local connectivity, bringing communities one step closer to better rail connections with the capacity to boost job opportunities and ease congestion.

As part of the fund, the Government also announced the third round of the New Stations Fund, which will invest £20m in new stations and help restore closed stations to their former glory.

The fund has now closed, with a decision on successful applicants due in the Autumn.