CAMPAIGNERS fighting to revive a link between Honeybourne and Stratford have been boosted with the publication of a list of 50 disused railway lines which could be reopened as part of a reversal of the Beeching cuts.
The line, which connects to the existing Worcester to Oxford Cotswold Line, has been closed since 1976 but could be revived by a government panel which will assess the feasibility of reintroducing passenger services for the first time in nearly half a century.
Campaigners from the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group encourage the use of Birmingham and Stratford railway and promote the line’s benefits to residents and visitors.
While longer campaigning for the outright reopening of the Stratford-Honeybourne railway line the group do not accept the proposal being dismissed or continually relegated to the bottom of priorities with no supporting evidence.
Ministers said the plans would be considered as part of a wider drive to ‘level up’ regional economies.
Successive governments have promised to reverse the Beeching cuts and reconnect towns and cities. Dr Richard Beeching, a former chairman of British Railways, advocated the closure of parts of the network deemed to be loss making in 1963.
This included more than 2,300 stations and up to 5,000 miles of track. This year the government announced a £500million ‘Restoring our Railway’ fund designed to breathe new life into the network.
And the Honeybourne to Stratford-Upon-Avon line was named as one of the 50 contenders by the Department of Transport.
A panel, led by Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, will consider the applications and successful schemes will be awarded up to £50,000 to develop economic studies and businesses cases. They will be named by the end of the summer according to the Department of Transport.
Mr Heaton-Harris said: “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.
“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.”