Restoring Your Railway timeline

 £500m will not go far but it's a start

Railfuture welcomed the government's January 2020 announcement of funding for Reversing Beeching, and bid guidance. This was a successful outcome to our campaign launched less than two years earlier for a Rail reopening fund! £500m will only be enough to reopen about 25 miles of railway at typical Network Rail costs, so this funding should be used at least in part as seed capital to prove the viability of potential schemes, draw in more funding from elsewhere, and establish a pipeline of projects. To utilise that funding efficiently, a streamlined approval and implementation process is required, not constrained by current Network Rail procedures.

Railfuture submitted its candidates for the new Restoring Your Railway fund - the Ideas Fund, Accelerating existing proposals, and new stations - to the Department for Transport shortly before the 28 February 2020 closing date for the first round of bids to the Ideas Fund.

Our prime recommendations for missing links to be reopened included: The Northumberland Line, Wisbech, Skelmersdale, Cowley, St. Andrews, Uckfield-Lewes, Skipton-Colne.

Funding for East-West Rail, Portishead, Hoo, Levenmouth, had already been announced.

On 28 February 2020 the launch of third round of the New Stations Fund for new stations was welcome. The government must also make progress on market-led proposals, especially Southern Rail Access to Heathrow.

On 27 April 2020 the Department confirmed the second round of bids to the Ideas Fund required initial expressions of interest by 22 May followed by full applications by 19 June 2020.

On 23 May 2020 the Transport Secretary announced that 10 bids to the first round of the Ideas Fund had been selected to receive shares of the £500k fund - £50k each plus advice and guidance from DfT and Network Rail to help fund transport and economic studies and create a business case. Future funding to develop projects would be subject to agreement of the business case.

On 11 June 2020 the Rail Minister ran a webinar for the 50 unsuccessful bidders to round one. Around 20 which could deliver worthwhile benefits are being offered advice to develop their proposals further, for re-submission to the second June or third November round of the Ideas Fund. The remaining schemes need further development work to understand the best route forward, and bidders have been invited by the DfT to discuss next steps.

On 30 June 2020 the Rail Minister announced that 50 bids had been submitted to the Ideas Fund second round by 19 June 2020.

On 2 July 2020 the DfT published the full list of 50 proposals.

On 8 September 2020 the DfT published the complete list of all bids to rounds 1 (59) and 2 (51) of the Ideas Fund.

On 25 November 2020 the Chancellor of the Exchequer launched his Spending Review 2020 along with the National Infrastructure Strategy, which re-affirms "The government will also deliver on its manifesto commitment to spend £500 million to restore transport services previously lost in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s, including reopening the Ashington-Blyth line in Northumberland to passenger services, and restoring rail links to Okehampton in Devon." It goes on to say "The government will provide further feasibility funding for an additional 15 proposals to inform decisions on further development: reopening Beeston Castle and Tarporley station in Cheshire, St. Anne’s Park station in Bristol, and Ferryhill station in County Durham; reinstating links between Bolton, Radcliffe, and Bury; the Stratford-upon-Avon to Honeybourne/Worcester/Oxford line; new stations at Waverley in South Yorkshire and a station in the Langport/Somerton area of Somerset; improved services from Melton Mowbray and Falmouth; upgrading the South Fylde Line; the Maid Marian line between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire; reinstating rail access to Cirencester; restoring services between Swanage and Wareham; the South Humber rail link; and a new link between Consett and Newcastle. The government is also expanding the third round of the New Stations Fund to £32 million. This will fund the opening of railway stations at Edginswell in Devon and Thanet Parkway in Kent; and St. Clears in Carmarthenshire. It will also provide funding to further develop proposals for stations at Haxby in York and Deeside in Flintshire." (Chapter 2, Levelling up the whole of the UK, Connecting nations and regions.)

On 26 November 2020 the Transport Secretary confirmed that, as part of the wider £500 million Restoring Your Railway Fund to develop proposals that level up transport links across the country, 15 rail schemes were awarded up to £50,000 to accelerate plans that could restore lines and stations to communities, including those closed during the Beeching cuts, and government is investing £32 million to develop and construct new stations in England and Wales. "Entries have been specifically judged on their ability to deliver real economic benefits and support left-behind communities, with investment targeted at regenerating local economies by supporting new house developments, opening up access to jobs and education, and boosting tourism." A further 28 un-named bids "will receive further guidance to help develop and refine their ideas for assessment in future funding rounds"; the identity and fate of the other 8 of the 51 bids to the Ideas Fund round 2 remains unclear.

Also on 26 November 2020, the Department for Transport published a schedule of all 25 winning bids from round 1 and round 2 of the Ideas Fund.

On 23 January 2021 the third round of the Ideas Fund was launched, closing Friday 5 March. On 11 March the Rail Minister tweeted that "over 85" bids had been received. The full list of bids, first published on 8 September 2020, was updated on 12 May 2021 when, after initial assessment including some re-naming, the original 85 round 3 bids became 89. The final revised list was published on 27 October 2021 here.

In May 2021 two of the four new stations in the West Yorkshire area which had been announced in the DfT's November 2017 Connecting people: a strategic vision for rail (page 25, para. 2.43) - White Rose and Thorpe Park - plus Marsh Barton station in Exeter received £15 million via the New Stations Fund.

On 19 March 2021 the DfT confirmed funding for restoration of regular daily services for Okehampton by the end of the year. Services on The Dartmoor Line started on Saturday 20 November 2021.

On 27 October 2021 the Autumn Budget in para. 4.69 on p.111-112 included the announcement of 13 winners in the third and "currently the last round of the Ideas Fund for the foreseeable future" - Rail Minister, in his letter to some unsuccessful bidders. The 13 successful ‘Ideas Fund’ proposals for new lines and stations reinstating passenger links from: Stoke to Leek; Darlington to Weardale; Ashton to Stockport; Oswestry to Gobowen; Beverley to York; Middlewich and Gadbrook Park; Buckley Wells to Rawtenstall; Stocksbridge to Sheffield Victoria; Tavistock to Plymouth; Gaerwen to Amlwch; the Askern Branch line; and to re-open Corsham station and Stonehouse Bristol Road station. As was elaborated by the Transport Secretary the following day, it also allocated additional development funding for two winning bids in the first round, namely £7 million of development funding to reopen passenger services between Totton and Fawley in Hampshire (the Waterside line) and £5 million development funding to reopen rail stations in Wellington, Somerset and Cullompton, Devon.

On 18 June 2022 total funding of £15 million was announced to further develop nine of the winners from rounds 1 and 2 of the Ideas Fund. Four are in the North of England, three in the Midlands, and two in the South West.
It was also announced, in a Restoring Your Railway Fund programme update, that 16 Restoring Your Railway schemes would not progress to delivery under RYR, eight Ideas Fund rounds 1 and 2 winners and eight 'advanced proposals'. Six of the 16 are in government's London, South East and East of England regions, five are in the Midlands, three are in the the North of England, and one each in the South West and in Wales.
On Monday 20 June the Rail Minister issued her own Written Statement to Parliament.

On Wednesday 4 October 2023 the DfT published Network North (re-issued on Friday 13 October with first four, subsequently eight, corrections), together with one general "North and Midlands" and ten regional 'News stories':
~ North and Midlands
~ East Midlands
~ East of England
~ North East
~ North West
~ Scotland
~ South East
~ South West
~ Wales
~ West Midlands
~ Yorkshire and Humberside