January 28, 2020
The government is going ahead with plans to reverse historical rail cuts, despite critics warning its £500m budget is only enough to restore a small section of track.
Governments £500m To Reverse Beeching Rail Cuts Only Enough For 25 Miles Of Track
Transport secretary Grant Shapps is due to visit Fleetwood on Tuesday with a pledge to give £100,000 towards a feasibility study into reopening the train line linking the Lancashire town to Poulton-le-Fylde.
The Fleetwood line was shut in 1970 as part of a ripping-up of Britain’s tracks, as recommended by the Beeching Report. 
More than 5,000 miles of track and nearly 1,500 stations were closed between 1964 and 1970, following a report by British Railways chairman Dr Richard Beeching.
Another area that could benefit from the £500m fund designed to restore passenger services is Blyth, with Shapps granting £1.5m towards generating ideas for re-establishing the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne line in Northumberland, PA Media reports.The announcement comes after Blyth Valley elected a Conservative MP for the first time in its history at the December election.
Shapps said: “Many communities still live with the scars that came from the closure of their local railway more than five decades ago.
“Today sees work begin to undo the damage of the Beeching cuts by restoring local railways and stations to their former glory.”
Critics have previously warned that the £500m allocated by the government, a manifesto promise being acted on by Shapps, was well short of the mark if all of Beeching’s cuts were to be reversed.
Labour has said the funding pledged by the government would reopen just 25 miles of railway, while the director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison, said the investment was “relatively small”.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Murison said the proposed plan was “part of the answer but it’s in no way a full solution”.
He said: “All of these projects have their merits but, take the line between Colne and Skipton –  that’s a 12 mile section, that would use up about two-thirds of this entire budget.
“So the government has some challenges and if it’s serious about this it needs to put the right level of money in.
“It’s a relatively small investment in comparative terms to what’s needed in the wider network.”
Sim Harris, managing editor of industry newspaper Railnews, told PA news agency that reopening many of the lines which fell victim to the Beeching cuts would cost “billions”.
One of the last major re-openings of a line in Britain was the Borders Railway in September 2015.
The £294m link between Edinburgh and Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders re-established part of the former Waverley line, which fell victim to the Beeching cuts.
The government also plans to open another round of bidding for setting up new stations, allocating £20m to the initiative.
Two previous rounds of the scheme helped lead to the development of 10 new stations across England and Wales, said the Department for Transport (DfT).
It comes as reports surfaced this week that Shapps is considering taking the Northern franchise back into public control.
The Arriva-owned franchise has been dogged by a series of cancellations and late-running services after it introduced a new timetable in May 2018.
A DfT spokeswoman told PA news agency an announcement would be made this week.
“We continue to develop contingency plans for the replacement of the current franchise, and will set out next steps by the end of the month,” said the spokeswoman.Related... Tories Split On HS2 Amid Warning That Costs Could Spiral To £106bn If The Tories Are Serious About The North, It's Time To Move Parliament
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