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Re-opening rail lines

Reopening rail lines across the country would go a long way to improving public transport and tackling rail overcrowding. Our recent report, The case for expanding the rail network, calls for a £4.8 billion expansion promgramme to bring half a million people within walking distance of a train station and allow an additional 20 million passengers journeys a year on the network.

Our work to protect and reopen rail lines and improve train travel relies on donations; please consider supporting us.

Read our guide to getting a line or station reopened.

We want your help: If you have a photograph of a closed line or want to suggest a line be added to this list, please email us: campaigns@bettertransport.org.uk.

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The Leven LineSouth East
South West
East of England
East Midlands
West Midlands
Yorkshire & the Humber
North East
North West
Wales
Scotland

South East

  • Aylesbury & Bicester - Bletchley [Note: In December 2011 the Government agreed to support the reopening of the rail link between Oxford, Bicester, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford]
  • Haywards Heath - Horsted Keynes
  • Shanklin - Ventnor
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Brentford - Southall Crossrail Link (Brentford Docks Line)
    We think this line is a #1 priority. Converting this existing three-mile freight line to passenger services would provide a link to the new Elizabeth Line, supporting major housing and employment growth on the Great West Road site and relieving pressure on the A4.
    Find out more about Brentford - Southall Crossrail Link (Brentford Docks Line)
  • Uckfield - Lewes
  • The Tunbridge Wells link via Tunbridge Wells West to Eridge, connecting to the Uckfield - Lewes line. This would reconnect the cross-country line from Kent to East Sussex
  • The 'Cuckoo Line', Polegate to Tunbridge Wells
  • Guildford - Horsham via Cranleigh 
  • Horsham - Shoreham-by-Sea
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Oxford - Cowley
    We think this line is a #1 priority. The section from Oxford to Cowley is intact as a freight-only line. The 2017 Budget gave a small amount of funding to consider reopening. A subsequent 16 miles of line to Thame and Princess Risborough should also be considered.
    Find out more about Oxford - Cowley
  • Oxford - Fairford via Witney
  • Aylesbury - Rugby
  • Didcot - Newbury - Southampton 
  • Bourne End - High Wycombe 
  • Maldon - South Woodham Ferrers or Hatfield Peverel
  • Shenfield East curve. This would enable trains to run directly from Southend to the County town of Chelmsford
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Totton - Hythe - Fawley
    We think this line is a #1 priority. Reintroducing passenger services on this recently-retired freight-only line would offer services to Southampton.
    Find out more about Totton - Hythe - Fawley
  • Westerham to Dunton Green
  • Chessington South - Epsom / Leatherhead
  • East Grinstead - Three Bridges
  • Hall Farm Curve
  • The Windsor Link Railway; phase 1 would connect Slough to Waterloo via Windsor
  • The Hundred of Hoo Railway: Gravesend to Thamesport
  • Banbury - Verney Junction
  • Old Oak Common - Hounslow (Dudding Hill Line)
  • Paddock Wood - Cranbrook via Horsemonden and Goudhurst (extending possibly into Cranbrook Town and on to Tenterden via Benenden and Rolvenden as per the original plans for the line)
  • London's Marylebone Station - Leicester (the Great Central London Extension - this could link to the West Coast mainline.)
  • Fareham - Gosport
  • Winchester - Alton
  • Whitchurch - Sutton Scotney
  • Polegate - Pevensey (Willingdon Chord)
  • Crystal Palace (High Level) line
  • Old Oak Common - Hounslow (London)
  • Brockenhurst - Ringwood (and beyond)
  • Camberley - Woking (via the Sturt Road chord)
  • Alton - Fareham (the Meon Valley Railway)
  • Cheltenham - Swindon - Andover
  • Lydd - Appledore / Ashford
  • BML2

South West

  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Henbury Loop (north Bristol)
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This six-mile freight-only line is due to be partially reopened as a spur in 2021. It would offer new passenger rail services in north Bristol and also facilitate a Bristol Temple Meads - Avonmouth - Bristol Parkway service and access to the redevelopment of Filton Aerodrome.
    Find out more about Henbury Loop (north Bristol)
  • Stratford - Cheltenham (South West, West Midlands)
  • Axminster - Lyme Regis
  • Exmouth - Budleigh Salterton - Sidmouth
  • Yeovil - Taunton
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Okehampton - Tavistock - Bere Alston
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This 23-mile reinstatement would include a reopening of the 5.5 miles between Bere Alston and a new station outside Tavistock, allowing a direct route to Plymouth. The reopening has widespread support including from the County Council.
    Find out more about Okehampton - Tavistock - Bere Alston
  • Chard Junction - Chard Town - Taunton
  • Exeter - Bude
  • A railway line linking Yeovil Junction station to the Westbury-Weymouth line [Note: in December 2015 trains began running between Yeovil Junction and Pen Mill stations for the first time in 50 years!]
  • Newton Abbot - Moretonhampstead
  • Exeter - Newton Abbot (Teign Valley Line)
  • Frome - Radstock
  • Somerset and Dorset Railway, from Bath to Bournemouth
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Portishead - Bristol
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This seven-mile reopening is now being taken forward as part of the MetroWest project. It would connect the commuter town to Bristol, avoiding the busy M5.
    Find out more about Portishead - Bristol
  • Banbury - Cheltenham
  • Barnstaple - Ilfracombe
  • Barnstaple - Bideford - Great Torrington
  • Taunton metro proposal
  • Barnstaple - Taunton
  • Bodmin - Bodmin Parkway
  • Tiverton - Tiverton Parkway
  • Brixham - Churston - Paignton
  • Swindon - Marlborough, linking with the Berks and Hants line
  • Weymouth Quay tramway
  • The Strawberry Line: Clevedon to Cranmore
  • Halwill - Padstow (North Cornwall Railway)
  • Brent - Kingsbridge (Kingsbridge branch line)
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Stratford – Long Marston – Honeyborne line
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This line would create a strategic through route. Around 15,500 houses are planned for the Stratford upon Avon District between 2016 and 2031 including 6,000 at Long Marston.
  • Bridport - Maiden Newton
  • Gwinear Road - Helston
  • Newquay - Chacewater
  • Yelverton - Princetown
  • Barnstaple - Braunton
  • Cirencester - Kemble 
  • Salisbury - Verwood - Bournemouth
  • Portishead - Clevedon
  • Cheltenham - Swindon - Andover
  • Swindon - Highworth
  • People have also suggested the following stations for reopening: Stonehouse, Bristol Road; Charfield; Berkeley; Broadclyst; Codford; Corsham; Wootton Bassett Junction; Langport; Sparkford

East of England

  • Northampton - Bedford
  • Hitchin - Bedford
  • Spalding - March
  • Norwich - Wymondham - Fakenham - Little Walsingham - Wells Next The Sea
  • Saxmundham - Leiston
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo March - Wisbech and potentially on to King's Lynn
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This is an eight-mile reinstatement connecting Wisbech (population 30,000) to March and onward to Cambridge. The eight-mile route onward to Kings Lynn would create a strategic link to the ECML.
    Find out more about March - Wisbech
  • Dunstable - Luton
  • Beccles - Haddiscoe
  • The Nicky Line, Hemel Hempstead - Redbourne - Harpenden
  • The Alban Way, St. Albans - Hatfield
  • Watford - Rickmansworth (the Ebury Way)
  • Kings Lynn - Hunstanton
  • Aylsham - Coltishall
  • Watford - Croxley Green
  • Sheringham - Holt - Fakenham 
  • Wivenhoe - Brightlingsea
  • Newmarket - Ely
  • Stratford-upon-Avon - Bedford (The Stratford Upon Avon & Midland Junction Railway)
  • Cambridge - St Neots - Huntingdon
  • Chappel & Wakes Colne - Halstead
  • Witham - Maldon
  • Rugby - Peterborough via Market Harborough
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Cambridge - Bedford
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This is part of plans for a reopened, partially re-routed Oxford – Cambridge line. The Bedford – Sandy – Cambridge route is being developed by Network Rail.
    Find out more about Cambridge - Bedford
  • Peterborough - Northampton
  • Buntingford - St Margarets
  • The North Weald and Ongar link at the end of the Central Line
  • Dunstable North railway station. Dunstable - Leighton Buzzard line
  • King's Lynn - Dereham
  • Campaign for Better Transport logoHaverhill - Cambridge
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This route would improve commuter access to Cambridge. The route follows the former Stour Valley Railway and could be extended a further nine miles to Sudbury.
    Find out more about Haverhill - Cambridge
  • Cromer - Mundesley-on-Sea - North Walsham
  • Halesworth - Southwold 
  • Kings Lynn - Fakenham
  • Black Bank Station - Cambridgeshire
  • Bishop's Stortford - Braintree
  • People have also suggested the following stations for reopening: Six Mile Bottom; Finningham; Bealings

East Midlands

The Leven Line

  • Northampton - Bedford
  • Northampton - Market Harborough, via Brampton, Brixworth, Lamport and Kelmarsh
  • East Lincolnshire Line, Grimsby - Louth - Alford - Boston
  • The Lincolnshire Loop Line: Boston - Tattershall - Kirkstead - Stixwould - Southrey - Bardney - Five Mile House - Washingborough - Lincoln (The former Tattershall railway station is pictured, right)
  • Mablethorpe loop line, Louth - Grimoldby - Mablethorpe - Sutton-on-Sea - Mumby Road - Willoughby
  • Wellingborough - Higham Ferrers
  • The Kirkstead and Little Steeping Railway
  • Stratford-upon-Avon - Bedford (The Stratford Upon Avon & Midland Junction Railway)
  • London's Marylebone Station - Leicester (the Great Central London Extension - this could link to the West Coast mainline.)
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Shirebrook - Ollerton
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This would be a six-mile extension of the Robin Hood line from Warsop to Ollerton, with new stations for Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton. The line is operational, being used as a test track.
    Find out more about Shirebrook - Ollerton
  • Rugby - Peterborough via Market Harborough
  • Peterborough - Northampton
  • Bourne - Sleaford (- Cranwell)
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Leicester – Burton-upon-Trent
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This line would bring relatively large settlements onto the network and relieve pressure on local roads; it could also support further housing development.
    Find out more about Leicester – Burton-upon-Trent
  • Ullesthorpe - Rugby
  • Lutterworth - Rugby
  • Butterley - Ripley - Derby
  • The Castle Donington line
  • Barrow Hill - Bolsover (the Doe Lea branch line)
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Matlock - Buxton
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This 12-mile stretch would link three cities and serve the Buxton quarries. A private reopening is being pursued, but this would be limited to aggregates and not include passenger services.
    Find out more about Matlock - Buxton
  • People have also suggested the following stations for reopening: Bawtry; Little Bytham; Wingfield; Barton and Walton

West Midlands

  • Campaign for Better Transport logoCamp Hill chords
    We think this line is a #1 priority.  This line would enable commuter services through a part of Birmingham which currently has no passenger rail provision.
  • Kenilworth - Berkswell
  • Longbridge - Frankley
  • Rugby - Southam
  • Redditch - Evesham - Ashchurch
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Leek - Stoke
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This mothballed railway line (in operation until 1988) would bring Leek (population 21,000) back onto the network, allow freight traffic from a nearby quarry and give an existing heritage line a connection to the mainline.
    Find out more about Leek - Stoke
  • Hereford - Brecon via Hay on Wye
  • Shrewsbury - Bridgnorth (linked with the Severn Valley railway line)
  • Wellington - Stoke-on-Trent via Market Drayton
  • Stourbridge - Dudley - Walsall 
  • Oakamoor - Alton Towers
  • Frankley - Rubery - Hunnington - Halesowen - Old Hill - Windmill End - Dudley
  • Stratford-upon-Avon - Bedford (The Stratford Upon Avon & Midland Junction Railway)
  • London's Marylebone Station - Leicester (the Great Central London Extension - this could link to the West Coast mainline.)
  • Stratford - Cheltenham (South West, West Midlands)
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Walsall - Wolverhampton
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This link between two major centres passes via an urban area with weak rail connections.
  • Stratford-upon-Avon - Long Marston (then connecting to Honeybourne on the Worcester-London line) 
  • Stafford - Uttoxeter
  • Rugby - Peterborough via Market Harborough
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Walsall - Water Orton
    We think this line is a #1 priority. Also known as the Sutton Park Line, this is a freight-only railway which closed to passenger services in the 1960s. Reopening would significantly improve local connections.
    Find out more about Walsall - Water Orton
  • Welshpool - Oswestry
  • Shrewsbury - Stafford
  • Worcester – Bromyard – the Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway line
  • Oswestry - Whitchurch
  • Shrewsbury - Ironbridge via Ketley
  • Nantwich - Market Drayton
  • Cheadle - Cresswell
  • South Staffordshire line (Wichnor to Lichfield)
  • People have also suggested the following stations for reopening: Madeley; Admaston; Barton and Walton

Yorkshire and the Humber

  • Harrogate - Leeds (via Wetherby)
  • Malton - Pickering 
  • Swinton/Mexborough - Cudworth
  • Silkstone - Wath - Mexborough
  • Hadfield - Penistone - Deepcar (Woodhead route) (Yorkshire and the Humber, North West)
  • Redmire - Garsdale (Yorkshire and the Humber, North West)
  • Darlington - Richmond
  • York - Hull via Beverley
  • Leeds - Otley - Ilkley
  • Hull - Hornsea
  • Hull - Withernsea
  • Hull - Little Weighton - North Cave
  • Skipton - Grassington
  • Addingham - Ilkley
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Low Moor to Thornhill
    We think this line is a #1 priority. A reopened route would improve local connectivity and strategic links between Bradford and Sheffield via Barnsley.
    Find out more about Low Moor to Thornhill
  • Selby - Driffield
  • Saltburn - Loftus (currently only a freight line)
  • Brancliffe - Kirk Sandall (South Yorkshire Joint Line, currently only used for freight)
  • Keighley - Queensbury via Thornton
  • Brockholes - Holmfirth
  • Anchor Pit Junction - Pickle Bridge junction (linking Huddersfield and Bradford)
  • Starbeck - Pannal
  • Bradford Crossrail
  • Armley Canal Road station - Leeds/Shipley line
  • Kirkburton Station - Huddersfield to Heaton Lodge line 
  • People have also suggested the following stations for reopening: Hambleton; Altofts; Methley; Esholt; Askern

North East

  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Stockton - Ferryhill
    We think this line is a #1 priority. The Stillington Branch – a 13-mile freight-only route connecting the Teeside conurbation with the ECML at Ferryhill - would improve regional connectivity if it was reopened to passengers.
    Find out more about Stockton - Ferryhill
  • Hexham - Bellingham (Border Counties Line)
  • Haltwhistle - Alston (Alston Line)
  • Alnmouth - Alnwick (the Aln Valley Railway is currently relaying track along this line to reopen it as a volunteer-run heritage railway)
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Ferryhill - Pelaw
    We think this line is a #1 priority. The Leamside Branch – connecting the ECML to the Newcastle-Sunderland line at Pelaw - is an intact line. It would be suitable for a variety of service options including a regional service linking the Tees Valley and Tyne and Wear, freight services to the Sunderland Nissan plant and a diversionary freight route for the ECML.
    Find out more about Ferryhill - Pelaw
  • Bishop Auckland - Howden le Wear - Crook 
  • Hexham - Allendale
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Ashington Blyth and Tyne
    We think this line is a #1 priority. Now a freight-only line, it once served towns including Blyth, Ashington and Bedlington, giving access to Newcastle, the Tyne and Wear Metro and potentially Edinburgh. It would significantly improve connectivity for several large towns largely through use of existing alignments.
    Find out more about Ashington Blyth and Tyne
  • Washington, Tyne and Wear - Consett
  • Durham - Bishop Auckland
  • Middlesbrough – Guisborough
  • People have also suggested the following stations for reopening: Horden; Belford; Gilsland

North West

  • Bolton to Bury
  • The short chord at Carnforth (allowing direct running between the Furness Line and the Dales Line)
  • Halton Curve (this line will soon reopen! Work began in July 2017)
  • Rawtenstall - Manchester Victoria
  • Southport and Cheshire Lines Extension Railway (a reader suggests re-laying the track bed from Old Roan to Woodvale, and building an extension access line to Ainsdale to link it with the Northern line of Merseyrail)
  • Manchester - Sheffield 
  • Matlock - Buxton 
  • Penrith - Keswick 
  • Carlisle - Galashiels (Waverley Route)
  • Partington - Glazebrook
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Skipton - Colne
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This is an 11.5-mile link creating a through route from Leeds to Liverpool. The formation is largely intact. The line passes through a conurbation of 500k and has the potential for local, regional and freight services. The reopening would include Earby station and new park and ride station near Barnoldswick.
    Find out more about Skipton - Colne
  • Burscough - Burscough Curves
  • Deeside ind park - Sealand - Saughall - Blacon - Chester Liverpool Rd - Newton - Northwich
  • Wigan - Coppull - Euxton 
  • Sandbach - Northwich, including a new Middlewich station (This line is currently open for freight traffic and passenger diversions only). 
  • North Mersey Branch Line
  • Waterloo Tunnel, Waterloo Dock - Edge Hill Junction
  • Wapping Tunnel, King's Dock - Edge Hill Junction
  • Canada Dock Branch Line, Bootle Canada Dock - Edge Lane
  • St Helens Central - St Helens Junction 
  • The Wigan Junction rail line from Lower Ince to Glazebrook, with a new station at Wigan (Wigan Central) combining North-western and Wallgate
  • The North Liverpool Extension Line
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Skelmersdale - Liverpool
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This largely intact three-mile extension of Merseyrail's Ormskirk line would bring Skelmersdale (population 39,000) onto the network and offer a new station serving the north of Kirkby. This would be the terminus for for Merseyrail's Northern Line, with connections to Wigan and Manchester.
    Find out more about Skelmersdale - Liverpool
  • Marple - Bredbury - Stockport
  • Warrington and Stockport Railway
  • Marylebone - Manchester Piccadilly
  • Rochdale - Bacup
  • Bacup - Rawtenstall (plus Stubbins station)
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Poulton-le-Fylde - Fleetwood
    We think this line is a #1 priority. A 5.5-mile branch line originally ran from Preston to Fleetwood but closed south of Poulton in 1970. The line continued as a freight route until 1999. The alignment is intact. We would like to see this line reopen for passenger services and freight.
    Find out more about Poulton-le-Fylde - Fleetwood
  • Rose Hill (Marple) - Macclesfield
  • People have also suggested the following stations for reopening: Manchester Mayfield; Carr Mill; Beeston Castle and Tarporley; Blackpool Central; Liverpool St. James; Speke; Liverpool Exchange; Shap; Glazebury 

Wales

  • Amlwch branch
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog - Trawsfynydd
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Beddau - Pontyclun
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This three-mile reopening would connect Llantrisant and Beddau to the Cardiff line, improving local connectivity and commuting.
    Find out more about Beddau - Pontyclun
  • Criccieth - Caernarvon (or Bangor)
  • Merthyr (or Dowlais) - Brecon, Builth and Machynlleth
  • Pontrilas - Hay on Wye
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Caernarfon - Bangor
    We think this line is a #1 priority. The proposal would complete a 90 mile circular route through Snowdonia. The scheme is being considered primarily for tourism.
  • Barmouth to Ruabon
  • Penarth to Barry direct route (parallel to Vale of Glamorgan route)
  • Hereford - Brecon via Hay on Wye
  • Porth - Maerdy
  • Neath - Glynneath -- with Glynneath then linking up with Hirwaun and Aberdare if the line to Hirwaun is reopened
  • Brynmawr - Abergavenny
  • Chester - Mold (possibility of extending to Ruthin)
  • Tidenham - Hereford (Wye Valley)
  • Llangollen - Wrexham
  • Denbigh - Caerws - Bangor on Dee
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Aberbeeg to Abertillery
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This is a proposed two-mile extension of the Ebbw Valley line that would bring Abertillery (population 12,000) onto the network.
    Find out more about Aberbeeg to Abertillery
  • Aberystwyth - Tregaron - Lampeter - Carmarthen
  • Mumbles Tramway (Swansea Bay)
  • Afon Wen - Caernarvon (and on to Bangor)
  • Welshpool - Oswestry
  • People have also suggested the following stations for reopening: Caerleon; Swansea Landore; Peterston-super-Ely

Scotland

Note: Scotland is covered by our sister organisation, Transform Scotland, but readers of our website have suggested that the following lines be reopened:

  • Hamilton - Bothwell - Glasgow/Edinburgh
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Thornton - Leven in Fife
    We think this line is a #1 priority. The Levenmouth rail link aims to reopen five miles through Leven with Thornton where it would join the Fife Circle Line. It would improve local connectivity. Freight facilities could serve the Diageo distillery.
    Find out more about Thornton - Leven in Fife
  • The Waverley Line beyond Tweedbank to Hawick
  • Dunblane - Callander
  • Campaign for Better Transport logo Dunfermline - Alloa
    We think this line is a #1 priority. This 14-mile freight line used to serve the now closed Longannet Power Station. It would offer improved access to Glasgow and Edinburgh and support tourism in the area.
    Find out more about Dunfermline - Alloa
  • Dumfries - Castle Douglas - Kirkcudbright - Stranraer

Campaign for a reopening

If you think a rail line or station near you should be reopened, get in touch with us. You could also work with campaigning groups in your area.

Read our guide to getting a line or station reopened.

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