Ten more Lancashire rail projects to be considered in scheme to reverse Dr Beeching cuts

A passing loop on the Preston to Blackpool South line, and the re-opening of the Midge Hall station near Leyland, are among ten rail projects to be considered by the Government.

By Tim Gavell
Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 4:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 5:55 pm

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris has announced that ten bids have been received in the North West to build or reopen lines and stations closed during the notorious Beeching cuts.

These are on top of the already announced plans to look at restoring the Fleetwood to Poulton line, announced by Transport Minister Grant Shapps in January when the Government's plan was announced.

Lancashire County Council is taking the lead in the £100,000 feasibility study which will examine options for the Fleetwood line, with both light and heavy rail under consideration.

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Blackpool South station

MPs and local authorities have bid for a share of the second round of the Restoring Your Railway ‘Ideas Fund’, to develop proposals to build or reopen railway lines and stations, including those closed by British Rail chief Dr Richard Beeching from 1963.

A total of 50 proposals nationally for the restoration of lines and stations to re-connect their communities will now be considered by an expert panel including Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy, with announcements regarding the successful schemes expected by the end of the summer.

The plan is to improve local connectivity, bringing communities one step closer to better rail connections with the capacity to boost job opportunities and ease congestion.

The Blackpool South line has long been a target for improvement with a passing loop which would allow a train every 30 minutes to Preston and beyond and help improve the local economy in one of the most deprived areas of the UK and make travel to the sea-side easier.

The Preston to Ormskirk line in 1979 near Midge Hall

Midge Hall station was closed in 1961 on the Ormskirk branch line. The the Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers’ Association has campaigned for its reopening because of the increased housing developments in the area which would provide passengers to Preston and Liverpool.

Trains actually continue to stop there, but passengers are not allowed on or off.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Receiving so many bids once again underlines how passionate people are about reconnecting communities.

“Local MPs, councillors and community leaders are the greatest champions of their local lines, and I look forward to working with them to ensure the projects with the greatest potential have the support they need.

“Improving local transport links is vital as we level up access to opportunities across the country, reconnect communities and kickstart our recovery from Covid-19.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “I’m delighted to see the South Fylde line selected as one of the ten North West projects in the Restoring Your Railway scheme.

“This line has been neglected for far too long. One service per hour, coupled with cancellations, late services and poor rolling stock have turned people away from this rail line.

“With one service every 30 minutes, it becomes viable for commuters, for students, and for tourists and I am sure the number of users will

“I worked with Blackpool South MP Scott Benton to lodge this bid. If successful, we will bring more trade into our towns and improve services for our residents.”

Blackpool North MP Paul Maynard, who has supported plans to improve transport on the Fylde coast including an ambitious tram loop, said: “I continue to support efforts to re-open the line between Poulton and Fleetwood and was pleased to receive an update from Lancashire County Council outlining how early feasibility work is likely to be carried out, supported by a £100,000 Government investment.

“While I still believe an expanded light rail network would deliver much-needed local connectivity, I am aware a number of different proposals, including heavy rail and hybrid solutions. My priority is improving connectivity for people in Blackpool North and Cleveleys and I remain open-minded about how this can be achieved.”

As part of the Restoring Your Railway Fund, the Government also announced the third round of the New Stations Fund, which will invest £20 million in new stations and help restore closed stations to their former glory. The fund has now closed with a decision on successful applicants due in the Autumn.

In the North West bids received include:

The South Fylde Line Passing Loop;

Reopening Midge Hall Station near Leyland;

Reopening Golborne Railway Station near Wigan;

Reopening Kenyon Junction Station near Warrington;

Reinstatement of the Bolton-Radcliffe / Bolton-Bury line;

Reinstating Beeston Castle and Tarporley railway station in Cheshire;

Reopening the Stockport to Ashton Line and the East Didsbury – Stockport route.