Government vows to reopen Ivanhoe Line as East Midlands get largest transport budget promise

051023 - IVANHOE LEICESTER HERO - ITV News Central -  Rui Vieira/PA Images - Ellen Knight
The reopened line could connect Leicester and Burton Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Images

The government plans to fund the reopening of the train line between Leicester and Burton-upon-Trent, using reallocated money made available after cancelling HS2.

The extra funding is expected to include new stations along the route at Coalville, Ashby, and Gresley.

Campaigners and businesses have been calling for the 32-mile-long line to be re-established for years after it was closed in 1964 due to the Beeching cuts.

The government has pledged to "[reopen] closed Beeching lines", saying they will "ensure delivery by fully funding certain schemes in our popular Beeching reopening programme [...] subject to approval of business cases."

The Tories have also specifically promised to "reopen the Ivanhoe Line between Leicester and Burton, connecting nearly 2 million people across South Derbyshire and Northwest Leicestershire."

What were the Beeching cuts?

The Beeching cuts refers to a series of route closures in the 1960s that were part of the restructuring process to make the nationalised railways more profitable.

The cuts are named after Richard Beeching, then the chair of the British Railways Board, who authored two reports that outlined the closure plan.

The first report pointed to 2,363 stations and 5,000 miles of railway line recommended for closure.

This was 55% of stations, 30% of railway lines, and resulted in 67,700 British Rail jobs being lost.

Campaigns to save some lines resulted in a few being saved, but the majority were closed as recommended.

A few stations have since reopened, and some lines are now open as private heritage railways, such as the North Norfolk Railway, or the 'Poppy Line.'

Aerial view of Leicester train station Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Images

The government's explicit promise to link Leicester and Burton may come as a surprise to some.

Less than a month ago, Network Rail stated the project would not extend to Leicester, but would just link Derby and Coalville due to extensive costs needed to extend the line further.

But this may now be possible, thanks to the extra £36 billion the government has promised to reinvest in transport links.

The Ivanhoe Line even has its own dedicated supporters. The Campaign to Reopen the Ivanhoe Line (CRIL) group has gone from strength to strength, recently meeting with the Department for Transport have been mentioned by then-Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in Parliament.

But the plans to reopen the line faces some opposition. A petition to "stop restoration of the Ivanhoe Line" appeared on the UK government website about six months ago.

The petition claims: "Restoring and reopening this passenger line could substantially reduce the value of homes, causing extreme financial hardship to families.

"The noise from passenger trains would also impact day to day life of the local people.

"The homes next to the line could lose the privacy of their gardens and homes. The line has not been open to passengers for decades. Please don’t ruin the lives of home owners in the area."

Over the past six months, the anti-Ivanhoe Line petition has garnered just 97 signatures.

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