Back on track: Graham Stuart MP supports reopening of old Beverley to York rail lineTue 4th February 2020
The Government has announced this week that £500 million will be made available to reverse some of the infamous Beeching cuts to the British rail system in the 1960s, and Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, has leapt at the chance to put forward the case for the reinstatement of the old Beverley to York rail line.
The cuts, named after the then-chief of British Rail Dr Richard Beeching, who first made the proposals in a 1963 report, ended passenger services on around a third of the rail network.
More than 2,300 stations were closed alongside around 6,000 miles of track. These now lie in various states of disrepair, with some still maintaining freight services while others sit unused and overgrown or have houses built on them.
The new funding will be used to develop proposals brought forward by local community groups, councillors and MPs; as well as to accelerate the delivery of schemes already being considered for restoration.
Some lines have already been restored in recent years, such as the ‘Todmorden Curve’ in 2015, while Ilkeston Junction Station was reopened in 2017 after 40 years of Ilkeston being the largest town in England with no train service.
Now, having already written to the Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, to request a feasibility study for reinstating the Beverley to York line, Graham has also taken the opportunity to present the case to the Minister in person.
The proposed reopening of the 32-mile stretch of railway that was closed in 1965, which linked Beverley to York via Market Weighton, is an effort to link East Yorkshire to the rest of the main rail network without having to always travel through Hull Paragon Interchange.
The Minsters Rail Campaign group claim that the line, which branched off the existing Hull to Scarborough route, would boost the local economy and help to reduce congestion on the A1079 to York. It also ties in with the Government’s climate change targets, as it would reduce people’s dependency on travelling by car.
Graham said, “This announcement is great news for areas like Beverley and Holderness, which could benefit from better rail connections to other parts of the country. This can boost opportunity by making it easier to access new jobs or education, and it can drive further investment in the region.
“Not to mention that better public transport can help take cars off our roads – reducing traffic as well as helping us to meet our climate targets.
“I’ve been a supporter of the Minsters Rail Campaign group for many years, who have worked tirelessly to push the case for the reinstatement of the Beverley to York line, and I’m happy to help advance their cause with Government.”
Roy Begg, a member of the Minsters Rail Campaign group’s committee, said: “We’re delighted that Graham has spoken directly to the Minister responsible to highlight our campaign to reinstate the railway line between Beverley and York and we hope that, at long last, our voice is being heard in the highest levels of Government.
“Reopening the old rail line would be a fantastic opportunity for the region, and ties in perfectly with the Government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’. It would improve East-West connectivity and also boost the resilience of the existing route via Hull, which is liable to disruption because of flooding.”
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps MP, also announced an additional £20 million for the New Stations Fund to support areas that have never had rail services. The fund has so far been used to build 10 brand-new stations across England and Wales.
Graham added, “This announcement comes off the back of £600,000 funding for Beverley train station to refurbish the platform bridge and generally enhance its look and feel. It’s fantastic that Beverley and Holderness is starting to see the benefits of greater investment in the North.”
Photo attached: Graham meeting with Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris MP