The following press release was published by ATOC on 15th June 2009.
RAIL REPORT MAKES CASE FOR CONSIDERING NEW COMMUNITY LINKS
Opportunities for future rail connections serving a million people with 14 new lines and up to 40 new stations have been identified in a new report by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).
In the report, Connecting Communities, ATOC calls for the routes involved to be safeguarded, and for further detailed planning with Network Rail and local authorities to prioritise investment.
The rail links, which might be built over a five to ten year timescale, would serve:
Bordon, Hythe and Ringwood in Hampshire
Brixham in Devon
Aldridge and Brownhills (West Midlands)
Leicester to Burton (Derbyshire)
Fleetwood, Rawtenstall and Skelmersdale in Lancashire
Washington (Tyne and Wear)
Ashington & Blyth (Northumberland)
Additionally, the report identifies seven new park and ride stations that could be built on existing lines, providing services for people living in Rushden (Northamptonshire), Peterlee (County Durham), Kenilworth (Warwickshire), Ilkeston and Clay Cross (Derbyshire), Ossett (W Yorkshire) and Wantage (Oxfordshire).
Together, the new lines and stations would serve 40 towns with a population of three quarters of a million that are not currently connected to the network. A further quarter of a million people in nearby towns and villages would also benefit from better rail access as a result.
Connecting Communities demonstrates an outline economic case for trains to return to a number of towns that were once served by rail, until the Beeching Report led to the closure of over half the network and almost two thirds of the stations.
Many remaining ‘railhead’ stations have limited capacity or poor road links, and the new lines would dramatically improve accessibility to the network for new rail passengers.
The study identified the social costs and benefits such as time-savings by road users and reduction in road accidents as well as the earnings from fares, and compared them with the cost of operating the service and the capital costs of reinstating the 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.
“Many past studies have looked at re-opening old railways but this one looks first at the market, not the map, analysing where people live and where they want to travel.
“Much of the current debate about improving the network is focused on major enhancements, such as main line electrification and potential high speed lines. This is a welcome vote of confidence in the railways.
“This report complements the strategic approach recently advocated in Planning Ahead, and looks at other opportunities to connect communities which have grown in recent years but which do not have good access to the rail network.
“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.”
Over the next nine months ATOC will carry out further analysis with train operators, Network Rail and local authorities to validate the work so far undertaken, and to confirm those routes that would justify safeguarding.
Safeguarding would then be taken forward by Network Rail in conjunction with local authorities and involvement of the Department for Transport, through the Route Utilisation Strategy process.
The timescale for development, coupled with the need to make provision for funding (by local authorities and central Government) would mean that the schemes justified might be implemented from 2014 onwards (CP5 and beyond).