More and more people are using the railways. With Campaign for Better Transport, we want to see lines and stations closed by British Railways reopened where the economic factors that brought about their closure have changed, and new lines and stations built to serve new communities. But this will take real commitment and real funding.
We were delighted when the Government announced plans to expand the rail network as part of its Strategic Vision for Rail. But this 'vision' must be backed by funding. As our 'Expanding the Railways' guide shows, this is particularly important for the early stages of project development where the absence of a clear process identifying which schemes should progress can make it difficult for potential partners to give financial support.
The New Stations Fund has been successful and Scotland has set up it's own Local Rail Development Fund. So now we've written to ask the Government to set up a 'network development fund' to support project development for new and reopened rail lines and stations.
At 4pm today (14 May) campaigners delivered a giant version of the letter signed by over 4,000 people to Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, urging him to introduce a new fund to pay for the opening of additional railway lines and stations across the country.
The letter, organised by Campaign for Better Transport and Railfuture, calls on the Transport Secretary to establish a Network Development Fund to help the Government deliver on its commitment to grow the railways.
The group argues that a Network Development Fund could pay for project development for new and reopened stations and lines to give communities better access to employment and education; reduce pressure on the road network; and unlock plans for new housing and other development.
Steve Chambers, public transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Despite rocketing passenger numbers and strong demand very few new stations and lines have been added to the railway since Dr Beeching’s hatchet job 50 years ago. We’re asking the Transport Secretary to create a Network Development Fund specifically to help the most beneficial projects to get built. This will give more communities access to the railway, improve public transport and tackle overcrowding and congestion. Funding and clear national support are urgently needed to make sure proposals for new rail lines aren’t left stuck in the sidings.”
Bruce Williamson from Railfuture said: "We know that the few reopenings that have happened have been hugely successful, so we hope that this fund will help kick-start a new wave of rail revival. This money would fund the research needed to identify the most economically viable schemes, which will then give local authorities the confidence to invest further. It's about breaking the log jam that has held up so many reopening schemes over the years."
The Government announced plans to expand the rail network as part of its Strategic Vision for Rail, but there is currently no specific funding available to reopen stations and lines. Despite this, there is no shortage of projects aiming to add new stations, track and even whole lines to the network with over 200 proposals at various stages of development.
View or download the letter.