11 March 2013: Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for future railway reopenings.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and remind the House of my railway interests declared in the register.
Lord Popat: My Lords, the Government recently announced a £20 million new stations fund to support the development of new stations promoted by third parties in England and Wales. The Government have also allocated funding for the reopening of a key part of the strategic east-west rail route in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. We believe that local authorities are best placed to consider whether a rail reopening is the best way to meet local transport needs.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I welcome the Minister to the Dispatch Box for his first transport Question. He has given the House a positive Answer, which I hope indicates that the pro-rail consensus in this House is in good order. The Beeching report was published 50 years ago this month. Its implementation cut off a third of the network and deprived many parts of the country of access to the railway. Does the Minister agree that one of the most shocking parts of the Beeching legacy was the indecent haste with which so many closed lines were sold off and the land built over, which made their restoration expensive and often impossible? While the Minister's support for reopenings is good news, will he take a particular look at schemes which run across local authority boundaries and which would bring major benefits, such as the Lewes to Uckfield route and the suburban lines around Bristol?