Photo of SENRUG Charter 2008 at Bedlington on the Ashington Blyth and Tyne route by John Brierley.
Despite the COVID crisis the government is demonstrating commitment to rail by pressing ahead with its Restoring Your Railway initiative. Ten successful bids in the first round of the Ideas Fund have been announced – a common factor of these bids, if delivered, is that they will connect significant numbers of people to the rail network.
Some of the other 100 bids submitted in the first two rounds, and some other potential schemes not yet submitted, could offer worthwhile benefits. We aim to engage and support the promoters and the sponsoring MP to get them (re)submitted and selected.
Railfuture have linked with the Campaign for Better Transport to deliver a letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling calling for a Network Development Fund to pay for project development of realistic proposals for new and reopened stations and lines with the best projects joining a pool of national projects to be taken to full development and implementation. Photo: Railfuture media spokesman Bruce Williamson at the Department for Transport with the letter to hand in.
Timeline£500m will not go far but it’s a start
Railfuture welcomed the government's January 2020 announcement of funding for Reversing Beeching, and bid guidance. This was a successful outcome to the Rail reopening fund campaign launched less than two years earlier! £500m will only be enough to reopen about 25 miles of railway at typical Network Rail costs, so this funding should be used at least in part as seed capital to prove the viability of potential schemes, draw in more funding from elsewhere, and establish a pipeline of projects. To utilise that funding efficiently, a streamlined approval and implementation process is required, not constrained by current Network Rail procedures.
Railfuture submitted its candidates for the new Restoring Your Railway fund - the Ideas Fund, Accelerating existing proposals, and new stations - to the Department for Transport shortly before the 28 February 2020 closing date for the first round of bids to the Ideas Fund.
Our prime recommendations for missing links to be reopened included: Ashington Blyth & Tyne, Wisbech, Skelmersdale, Cowley, St. Andrews, Uckfield-Lewes, Skipton-Colne.
Funding for East-West Rail, Portishead, Hoo, Levenmouth, had already been announced.
On 28 February 2020 the launch of third round of the New Stations Fund for new stations was welcome. The government must also make progress on market-led proposals, especially Southern Rail Access to Heathrow.
On 27 April 2020 the Department confirmed the second round of bids to the Ideas Fund required initial expressions of interest by 22 May followed by full applications by 19 June 2020.
On 23 May 2020 the Transport Secretary announced that 10 bids to the first round of the Ideas Fund had been selected to receive shares of the £500k fund - £50k each plus advice and guidance from DfT and Network Rail 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.
On 11 June 2020 the Rail Minister ran a webinar for the 50 unsuccessful bidders to round one. Around 20 which could deliver worthwhile benefits are being offered advice to develop their proposals further, for re-submission to the second June or third November round of the Ideas Fund. The remaining schemes need further development work to understand the best route forward, and bidders have been invited by the DfT to discuss next steps.
On 30 June 2020 the Rail Minister announced that 50 bids had been submitted to the Ideas Fund second round by 19 June 2020.
On 2 July 2020 the DfT published the full list of 50 proposals.
On 8 September 2020 the DfT published the complete list of all bids to rounds 1 (59) and 2 (51) of the Ideas Fund.
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