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Beeching cuts could be reversed in new government rail initiative

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21st December 2017

Rail services that were lost as a result of the Richard Beeching and British Rail cuts in the 1960s and 1970s could be restored in order to create jobs and growth, under new plans drawn up by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

The Beeching cuts led to more than 4,000 miles of track being taken out of the network, prompted by two reports that road transport was seen as a more efficient option for the future.

The government has already announced plans to reopen the railway line from Oxford to Cambridge, and this new development programme will identify new connections and lines.

Ownership of track and train will remain separate, but the vision is to create joint teams that work together. The railways were privatised in the 1990s, and since then, track and train have been owned and operated by different organisations.

Bristol to Portishead and Bristol to Henbury; routes previously closed to passengers under British Rail connecting Exeter to Okehampton and Bere Alston to Tavistock and several routes around the city of Birmingham have all been mooted in relation to the proposals that are in discussion as part of the new development programme.

In addition, four new stations are also being considered in the West Yorkshire area.

Chris Grayling said that all proposals will need to demonstrate a strong business case where they are seeking government funding.

The Transport Secretary added: "We need to build on that success by building a new model for the 2020s and beyond, one more able to deal with the huge rise in passenger numbers and the challenges of an increasingly congested network."

However, Labour pointed out that no additional money or firm schemes had been announced and reminded the public that the government had recently cancelled major rail upgrades, including the electrification of lines in the Midlands and Wales.

Andy McDonald, Shadow Transport Secretary, dismissed the strategy, calling them: “re-announcements and unfunded proposals.”

He went further, saying: “The Tories’ record is of delayed, downgraded and cancelled investment, huge disparities in regional transport spending and soaring fares that are pricing passengers off the railway.”

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