The Anonymous Widower

£500m Fund To Restore Beeching Rail Cuts Goes Ahead Amid Criticism

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A government fund is to be launched later to restore historic railway lines closed more than 50 years ago under the so-called Beeching cuts.

The two initial grants are for studies about reopening the Northumberland Line to Blyth and Ashington in the North East and to Fleetwood to the North of Blackpool.

Blyth And Ashington


  • The tracks already exist.
  • There may still be some freight traffic on the route.
  • Connections to the Tyne and Wear Metro appear possible.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro already shares tracks with other freight and passenger services.
  • New stations and probably new signalling will be needed.
  • The distance between the proposed Northern terminals and the connections with the Tyne and Wear Metro are under twenty miles, which could make battery operation easily possible.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro is currently procuring a new fleet of trains.

I believe that these branches could be integrated into the Tyne and Wear Metro, providing that the new trains have the right specification.

Light rail vehicles like the Class 398 tram-trains being procured for the South Wales Metro should be able to run these services.

But other manufacturers might have better solutions!

Fleetwood Branch

This extension would need the following.

  • Restoration of the existing track between Poulton-le-Fylde and Fleetwood.
  • One or more new stations.
  • Probable resignalling.

In a simple installation, there is probably space to put a bay platform in Poulton-le-Fylde station, so that a shuttle service could be run to Fleetwood.

But services could also be extended to Preston.

Blackpool though has other rail problems like what are they going to do with the Blackpool South Line.

I believe Blackpool could use similar solutions on both the Blackpool South and Fleetwood Lines to create a bigger solution for the whole of the area.


It looks to me that the government has started with two schemes that are possible and where the track still exists.

It is to be hoped that the two studies come up with easy-to-build and fundable schemes, which are the first of many.

January 28, 2020 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , ,


  1. Freight destined for Fleetwood should be taken off Amounderness Way and put on the railway, which in turn will remove the need to build the Windy Harbour-Skippool bypass that will only serve to destroy yet more countryside.

    Comment by Charlie Bowman | January 28, 2020 | Reply

    • Thanks for that! I have read somewhere that the branch can serve Fleetwood’s recycling centre.

      Comment by AnonW | January 28, 2020 | Reply

      • Yes, I believe it can, which would certainly be better than nothing.

        Comment by Charlie Bowman | January 28, 2020

      • I also think there’s a battery tram-train solution in there somewhere for Blackpool. They would perhaps terminate at Poulton-ke-Fylde or even Preston and charge on both the 25 KVAC overhead and the 750 VDC of the tramway. They could be the same or similar to those being developed for Cardiff. Or knowing what Stadler gets up to with some of their innovative trains, they could be a rumoured tram-train variant of Liverpool’s new Class 777 trains, which could anyway extend to Preston under battery power, via Ormskirk.

        If the 777s are as good as Greater Anglia’s new 745 expresses and 755 local trains, Northern will get invaded by Merseyrail in several places.

        Still Northern will be the only loser, as passengers will hopefully benefit grearly!

        Comment by AnonW | January 28, 2020

      • HeI don’t think it will be part of a Fylde Peninsula tram loop. For me an alternative to road freight is the way forward; there wouldn’t be enough patronage between October and April for a purely passenger service to be viable. I am not exactly an expert in these matters but I can see what it would benefit the most, and therefore the likelihood of it not being used for that function!

        Comment by Charlie Bowman | January 28, 2020

      • I take your point about freight, but it needs a proper survey about passengers.

        Note that in the Wikipedia entry for the Fleetwood Branch, Network Rail are quoting £30,000 would be needed for a study and the DfT have divied up £100,000,which certainly says to me that the DfT wants a proper job done. The Association of Train Operating Companies is also keen and they have to answer to shareholders!

        A lot of people have views on this branch and only a properly conducted survey will decide the outcome.

        The minimum service between two ends would be hourly and a single shuttle train could probably manage two trains per hour. A battery tram-train, like those in Sheffield, would be ideal,especially if they were to be used on the Blackpool South Line to extend to Lytham.

        Comment by AnonW | January 28, 2020

  2. An announcement of new trains for Tyne and Wear metro has been made see –

    They have ordered Stadler trains which will be hopefully be similar to those ordered by Merseyside and South Wales with hopefully level access .

    These seem appropriate to extension of metro whether over existing lines or new or reopened lines .

    This announcement was covered on BBC Radio Essex today and got suggestions to reopen stations and routes closed by Dr Bbeeching but given how many of these branches have been built over and the limited funds it’s unlikely that many closed lines will reopen. A better bet will be reintroduced passenger services on lines still used for freight services.

    Comment by Melvyn | January 28, 2020 | Reply

    • Thanks! I’m not surprised that Stadler have got the order. They are setup to build small fleets and have a large selection of technology.
      I do wonder if the clincher was the introduction of the Class 755 trains, where apparently their engineers worked tirelessly to sort out the signalling problems, which turned out to happen with British Rail-built trains as well.
      I have also travelled on perhaps a dozen of these trains and can confirm that the step-free mechanism works well. Greater Anglia and Network Rail don’t seem to have dropped or raised platforms much, but a few may need adjustment. Think of the disruption and cost of rebuilding platforms that can be avoided.
      Tonight, I was on a Class 399 tram-train and this works on both 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead. It immaculately changed over in the middle if a tight curve,shopping for perhaps 30-40 seconds.
      If they can perform that trick and change over to batteries as required with the slightly larger trains, then Blyth and Ashington here we come!
      Could it be that the Government announced the £500 million on the same day that NEXUS announced the new trains was not a coincidence?
      Note that Merseyrail’s 777s are 17 cm. wider and have a 75 mph top speed compared to the 62 mph of the 399s.
      The current rolling stock is 2.7 metres wide and has a speed of 50 mph.
      The new trains will obviously be made to fit the network, but supposing they were faster, they would be able to increase services. Merseyrail’s are 75 mph, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro have a similar capability, that is similar to a Class 153 for use on routes that could accept that speed.
      Stadler certainly seemed to have ome up with a specification that makes the trains do a lot more.

      It may be a very radical approach,based on what is starting delivered to Merseyrail.

      Comment by AnonW | January 29, 2020 | Reply

  3. […] Government is funding a study into linking Blyth and Ashington to Newcastle, which I wrote about in £500m Fund To Restore Beeching Rail Cuts Goes Ahead Amid Criticism, I wouldn’t be surprised that this route is […]

    Pingback by Tyne And Wear Metro: Swiss Firm Stadler To Build New Fleet « The Anonymous Widower | January 31, 2020 | Reply

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