Plan to open 40 new train stations

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Four decades after Dr Richard Beeching cut the railway network by a third, closing 2,000 stations and 5,000 miles of track, train companies want to undo some of his work in a £500m expansion, says a report published today.

Some 14 lines and around 40 new stations have been identified by train operating companies which, if developed, could serve more than a million extra passengers, the authors state.

The report by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) argues that demand for rail services has soared in the last decade and that there is a strong case for refurbishing and reopening old routes.

The Beeching report by Dr Richard Beeching in the 1960s cut the railway network by a third, closing 2,000 stations and 5,000 miles of track.

But the ATOC report stated some 40 towns not currently on the rail network could benefit from the 14 new lines.

Any decision on whether any of the plans get the go ahead would be taken by local and regional government, Network Rail and the Department for Transport.

If all the plans are authorised the costs could reach £500 million, ATOC said.

Much of the infrastructure of the old lines closed in the 1960s is still in place in many areas.

These could be refurbished to form part of the new network alongside freight lines which could also be adapted to serve commercial routes.

The additional lines and stations could take between five to 10 years to become operational.

The report also identifies seven new park-and-ride stations that could be built on existing lines.

ATOC chief executive Michael Roberts said: "Record passenger numbers and rising demand require us to plan for the long term, while climate change and population growth make it vital that in doing so, we adapt the rail network to meet tomorrow's needs.

"Providing attractive new services and easier access to the rail network will encourage passengers to switch to rail from other, less green, modes of transport.

"We have established that there is a strong business case for investment to bring a number of towns back onto the rail network. Now we need to safeguard these routes and develop the detailed case for investment."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "RMT has repeatedly called for an expansion of rail services to create green jobs and green transport options as part of our campaign for a people's railways.

"However, any expansion should be publicly-owned and free from the chaos and profiteering of the privatised franchise system."

The 14 possible new lines identified in the report are as follows:

* Cranleigh in Surrey

* Borden, Hythe and Ringwood in Hampshire

* Brixham in Devon

* Aldridge and Brownhills in the West Midlands

* Wisbech in Cambridgeshire

* Leicester to Burton in the East Midlands

* Fleetwood, Rawtenstall and Skelmersdale in Lancashire

* Washington in Tyne and Wear

* Ashington and Blyth in Northumberland