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Borders Railway reopening welcomed, but we need more says transport charity

7 September 2015

Campaign for Better Transport has welcomed the reopening of the Borders Railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank and is calling for other former passenger lines to be reopened across the country.

With the Queen officially reopening the Borders Railway today (9 September) after almost 50 years of closure, Campaign for Better Transport has identified 12 other rail lines that it believes should be reopened as a matter of priority.

Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport’s chief executive, said:

“The reopening of the Borders Railway is a triumph for rail passengers in Scotland. For years they were told it would be impossible to reinstate passenger services on this line, but sense has prevailed and now we want to see more lines and stations reopened across the rest of the UK.

“Filling in the missing links in our rail network offers the most cost effective way of alleviating congestion, reducing social isolation and improving economic prospects. Rail reopenings have huge local support, are good for business and can offer economically deprived areas a new lease of life. You only have to look at the number of passengers using the new stations and lines to see how viable and popular they are and I am sure that the Borders Railway will be no different.”

12 lines identified by Campaign for Better Transport as having a strong economic and social case for reopening:

  1. Ashington - Blyth - Newcastle: Returning passenger services would significantly improve transport connections in a well-populated area in long-term economic decline.
  2. Portishead - Bristol: Returning passenger services to the Portishead line would support this fast-growing part of Bristol's commuter belt. The rail link would help tackle road congestion and reduce an hour long car trip during rush hour to around 17 minutes by train.
  3. South Staffordshire Railway: Connecting Stourbridge, Walsall and Lichfield, reinstating this route would have both passenger and freight benefits. It would reduce road congestion and have the potential to make the controversial 'Brownhills Eastern Bypass' unnecessary, whilst allowing rail freight to bypass congested Birmingham and potentially remove heavy lorries off the roads.
  4. Leamside line: The route has great potential for both freight and passenger services offering Durham’s 60,000 residents an alternative to the busy East Coast mainline and A1 motorway, and providing a freight link to the Nissan car plant in Sunderland.
  5. Lewes - Uckfield: Reinstating this line would allow trains to run directly from west Kent and east Surrey to Brighton's economic and social hub, significantly reducing pressure on the congested road network. It would also offer a diversionary route for the Brighton Main Line, an important strategic element the network currently lacks.
  6. Skipton - Colne: Restoring 11 miles of track would create an additional trans-Pennine rail route linking the West and East Coast Main Lines and connect the socially deprived and depressed areas of North-East Lancashire to the more prosperous West Yorkshire area.
  7. Leicester - Burton-on-Trent: Re-establishing passenger services on this 30 mile stretch of line, currently used for freight, would provide 100,000 people with access to the rail network and reduce pressure on local roads. The line would also provide a tourist route through the National Forest.
  8. Fleetwood - Preston: Reopening the six mile line, closed to passenger services since 1970, along with two new stations would support economic regeneration in an area of 60,000 people and reduce pressure on local roads.
  9. Wisbech - March: Reopening the seven miles of line between Wisbech and March would enable access to the regional centres of Peterborough and Cambridge and support regeneration initiatives.
  10. Totton - Hythe: The growth of many of the towns on this seven mile line, and the resultant pressure on the road network, has created a strong case for reopening. To maximise benefit to commuters a direct link with services to Southampton via Chandlers Ford would need to be established.
  11. East-West Rail Link: This would re-establish the rail link between Cambridge and Oxford and improve rail services between East Anglia, Central and Southern England. The western section of the scheme from Oxford to Bedford was approved by the Government in November 2011, with completion expected in 2019.
  12. Bere Alston - Tavistock - Okehampton: This first stage of this line is already subject to a planning application and would link Tavistock with Plymouth and the national rail network, thereby enabling new housing while reducing traffic on the A386 and providing a tourist route to Cornwall and West Devon’s mining landscape.



For further information please contact Alice Ridley on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468 or alice.ridley@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. The Borders Railway, which runs from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, will be officially opened on 9 September 2015 by the Queen. A victim of Dr Beeching’s axe, the line was closed in 1969 but after years of local campaigning a deal was struck in 2012 between Transport Scotland and Network Rail to restore passenger services.
  2. The 1963 report The Reshaping of British Railways, more commonly known as the Beeching report, resulted in the closure of 2,128 stations (more than half of the then total); the closure of  6,000 miles of railway line (a third of the total); and the loss of 67,000 jobs.
  3. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Beeching Report, Campaign for Better Transport published Reopening Railways: the case for growing the rail network and how it can be achieved. Read the full report here.
  4. The Campaign for Better Transport website has a comprehensive list of proposed rail line reopening schemes by area. Read the list here.
  5. In January 2013, the Government announced a £20m New Stations Fund. Five proposed stations were chosen to receive funds under the programme: Pye Corner in Newport, which benefitted from a £2.5m grant and opened in 2014; Lea Bridge in East London, which is set to open in 2016; Ilkeston in Derbyshire, where work set to begin this year; Newcourt, which opened this year and is the first new station in Devon for 20 years; and Kenilworth in Warwickshire which is set to open in 2016.
  6. Previous successful reopenings include:
    • Bramley Station, reopened by Metro West Yorkshire in 1983, doubled the number of passengers using the station between 2005 and 2010 to 160,000 a year
    • Outwood station, also reopened by Metro West Yorkshire on the site of the former Lofthouse and Outwood Station, was the start or destination for 350,000 journeys in 2010
    • Chandler's Ford in Hampshire reopened in 2003 having previously closed in 1969 and is now used for over 100,000 journeys each year.
  7. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).