A Cirencester rail group is one of 15 across the country which have been award up to £50,000 to accelerate plans that could restore lines and stations to communities, including those closed during the 1960s Beeching cuts.
More than 50 years since the railways were radically reshaped, including thousands of lines and stations closed during the infamous Beeching cuts, the government hopes this latest investment will kick-start work on schemes that will help reinvigorate local economies.
Richard Gunner, of Cirencester Community Railway, said: “We’re very excited about not only the funding, but also the Department for Transport recognition of the potential of the project. We’re just putting the finishing touches to our Primary Phase Feasibility Study, which shows that it is very feasible, and can bring huge benefits to the local economy and the people of Cirencester, as well as a big positive impact on the UK.”
Cirencester used to have three stations, but the Beeching cutbacks in the 1960’s closed the last one. Now commuters have to get to Kemble, Swindon or Cheltenham by road.
Cirencester Community Rail project wants to put Cirencester back on the map by re-opening the old line to the outskirts of the town.
The route is only about 8km – less than 6 miles long, and is very level most of the way, so it’s a lot easier than many of the routes that are under discussion around the UK.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “For towns and villages left isolated and forgotten by Beeching cuts, restoring a rail line or a station has the potential to revitalise a community. It breathes new life into our high streets, drives investment in businesses and housing, and opens new opportunities for work and education.”