Lib Dems plan rail expansion by cutting road projects

So reports the BBC:

The Liberal Democrats have set out plans to reopen thousands of miles of railway tracks and stations.

The scheme would be funded by cutting capital spending on roads by £3bn.

Its new Rail Expansion Fund would lead to the biggest expansion of the rail network since the Victorian era, the party claims.

Motorists’ group the RAC Foundation said it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money when only 7% of UK journeys were made by train, compared to 90% by car.

However, Lib Dem transport spokesman Norman Baker said the plan would “make our railway great again”…

Although exact decisions on which services could be expanded would not be made until bids were received, the Lib Dems have drawn up a list of schemes which could be suitable for early delivery.

These include the electrification of lines from Manchester to Liverpool, Leeds and Preston; from Birmingham to Bristol and Basingstoke; and between Leeds and York.

New or reopened stations could be funded in Ilkeston, Kidlington, Wantage, Corsham, Tavistock, Middlewich, Ashington, Blyth, Washington and Skelmersdale.

New lines could link Southport with Preston, Bournemouth with Ringwood and the Midlands main line with the Birmingham-Derby route.

And track could be reopened between Exeter and Okehampton; Tavistock and Plymouth; Penrith and Keswick; and Galashiels and Carlisle.

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  • Does that mean we’re going to start campaigning FOR pot holes?

  • Tony Greaves 5th Apr '10 - 12:43pm

    So what about Colne-Skipton and the Todmorden curve, Norman???

    Tony Greaves

  • Roger Roberts 5th Apr '10 - 1:05pm

    With their devolved power how would this affect Wales and most of Scotland. ?

  • I think you’ll find the line to Okehampton & Meldon quarry is still there, with weekend passenger services operated by the Dartmoor Railway. The line to Tavistock is to reopen as a developer-funded planning requirement for the 700 new houses to be built in Tavistock.

    The part that needs to be reopened is the Meldon – Tavistock link.

  • Edmund Worthy 5th Apr '10 - 2:26pm

    Make sure you get the details right. Give the section of line that actuaLLY NEEDS REBUILDING, THEN THE SERVICE THAT WOULD RUN OVER IT.


  • Hereward the Wake 5th Apr '10 - 2:28pm

    We could do with relaying the line from Guildford to Cranleigh in Surrey. It was a mistake to rip it out. It now acts as a cycle path, but restoring it to railway would help ease congestion in the morning and evening peak periods.

  • Tony Greaves 5th Apr '10 - 5:42pm

    “Re-opening the rail lines from Southport-Preston and Southport-Ormskirk only involves re-instating the rails along a few hundres yards of trackbed at the ‘Burscough Curves’. A large benefit for several communities at a low cost.”

    This is the point of the Tod curve which is a well-advanced scheme. Is it on our list?

    Tony Greaves

  • All of these ‘missing link’ schemes should be on our list, as should Tony’s Todmorden curve and the Burscough curves.

    All of these projects reuse abandoned infrastructure, are cheap and provide important new routes for passengers & freight. None are more than 25Km in length, some just a few hundred metres.

    Colne – Skipton
    Hadfield – Penistone – Sheffield (Additional transpennine route Manchester – Sheffield)
    Matlock – Buxton
    High Marnham – Lincoln (Mansfield – Warsop – Lincoln)
    Stratford – Long Marston
    Uckfield – Lewes, Tunbridge Wells W – Tunbridge Wells
    Meldon – Tavistock (gives all-weather Exeter – Plymouth route)

    There are plenty of other proposals for branch line reopenings as well, I noted a few in the BBC story. Is there a map that can go in leaflets?

  • CAPITAL IDEA. Small schemes can make a difference but the main priority is more electrification…!

  • The first problem is that while roads are profitable to the Treasury once built – fuel duty is high, after all, almost all railways are loss making. So while you can cut road spending and build more railways, you then have to fund the running of them. Does Norman have a pot of money from that? Or is this an unfunded spending promise, of the sort I thought we had given up?

    It also seems quite hard to believe that “Our plans will reopen thousands of miles of track “. £3bn divided by 2,000 is only £1,500 per mile. With the best will in the world, there are not thousands of miles of track sitting around in good condition waiting to be reopened for £1,500 a mile. The remodelling of Reading station, with a graded crossover, so that trains to Oxford don’t have to cross the trains coming from Bristol is going to cost c. £400m.

    The High Speed line is about £250m a mile. Let’s say £25m per mile for this sort of thing, and you have about 150 miles of new track. That will help here and there, but this is bypass money, not a new railway system.

  • Tony Greaves 5th Apr '10 - 9:22pm

    Tony: The Todmordon Curve is on our list – I have forwarded to you the party press release with a detailed appendix.

    Thanks. Why could I not find the full list on the party website?

    Tony Greaves

  • Sorry if I seem downbeat, but have we made provision anywhere for the REVENUE costs of such schemes?

    To take a for instance, Southport-Preston : provision of rolling stock, provision of traincrew. And the income side?

  • Tim Leunig.
    Any project run by Network Rail is ALWAYS ridiculously overpriced. For example, Merseytravel want to electrify Wrexham – Bidston, which they cost at £60million. Network Rail say £200million, which is clearly nonsense. Schemes in this country cost 2 – 4 times what comparable schemes cost per route kilometre elsewhere in Europe.

  • Tony’s point is an important one. No-one in this area had a clue what was in or out of this package and that information is still not publically available

    A bit difficult to capitalise on a policy announcement when you don’t have an answer to the first question any journalist in your area is going to ask you.

  • But then we gave a long list of schemes for early delivery. The first question any journalist here would ask is is Tod Curve on your list for early delivery (they aren’t really going to be that bothered about Tavistock (with all respect to Tavistock). Yes I could guess that it is – but I don’t thank campaigners guessing at party policy is the greatest of ideas.

    The point is that it IS on that list but the communication was so non-existant that no-one could find that out.

  • @Tim Leunig

    £3bn divided by 2,000 is only £1,500 per mile.

    Have I misunderstood or is £3,000,000,000 / 2,000 miles = £1,500,000/mile ?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 6th Apr '10 - 11:15am

    “The High Speed line is about £250m a mile. Let’s say £25m per mile for this sort of thing, and you have about 150 miles of new track.”

    You’re saying that the party is underestimating the initial capital expenditure by at least factor of ten, and not allowing anything at all for subsequent running costs?

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