Grant Shapps, UK Transport Secretary, announced a £794 million investment package to reopen two important rail routes which closed more than 50 years ago.
This new funding also includes £760 million for the delivery of the next phase of East West Rail which will create 1,500 skilled jobs and reinstate direct rail services between Bicester and Bletchley for the first time since 1968.
The investment also includes £34 million to rapidly progress plans to reopen the Northumberland line between Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and Ashington, which closed in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts.
Mr Shapps has also called upon local authorities, MPs and community groups to submit bids for a share of the third and final round of the Department of Transport’s Ideas Fund, which has been designed to encourage proposals to reopen railway lines, services and stations.
This announcement forms part of the UK Government’s plan to ‘build back better’ from COVID-19, and to level up the UK’s transport and infrastructure by investing in rail connections to boost economic growth, unlock new housing and create jobs and opportunity across the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Restoring railways helps put communities back on the map, and this investment forms part of our nationwide effort to build back vital connections and unlock access to jobs, education and housing.
Returning these routes to their former glory, and progressing work to reopen even more lines and stations shows our commitment to levelling up journeys across the country as we build back better from the pandemic.”
The latest funding also marks an important milestone in the delivery of the East West Rail, which will provide better connectivity along the Oxford-Cambridge arc, shortening journey times between routes outside of London, boosting economic growth and serving major new housing developments.
The works between Bicester and Bletchley are expected to create 1,500 jobs. This phase of the project will include the construction of a new stations at Winslow, as well as enhancements to existing stations along the route, including Bletchley. By 2025, 2 trains per hour will run between Oxford and Milton Keynes via Bletchley.
The investment on the Northumberland line will fund preparatory works, including land acquisition, detailed design work and early site works.
The latest round of the Ideas Fund will run until 5 March 2021 with successful bids due to be announced later this summer.
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