A bid to reopen a passenger railway line between Burton upon Trent and Leicester has taken a significant step forward – and East Midlands Chamber says there could be significant benefits for businesses along the route.
What is the Campaign for Reopening the Ivanhoe Line?
The Campaign for Reopening the Ivanhoe Line (CRIL) has led a movement to restore the 31-mile line, which was sacrificed in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the Beeching Cuts – when British Railways chairman Dr Richard Beeching closed thousands of stations and hundreds of branch lines to make the nationalised railways profitable again.
After receiving Government funding to conduct a feasibility study on its reopening last year, the Department for Transport announced in June that CRIL’s scheme was among nine – chosen from 39 schemes – rail projects authorised to move on to the next stage as part of the Restoring Your Railway initiative.
Network Rail will now provide funding to conduct a detailed study of the costs of construction and scrutinise the benefits as part of a full outline business case. If this confirms the line’s viability, it will carry out design work and, subject to Government approval, work could begin in mid-2024 should it receive parliamentary approval ahead of a potential opening 2026 opening date.
The route includes eight possible railway stations – in Drakelow & Stapenhill, Castle Gresley (for Swadlincote), Moira, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Coalville, Ellistown, Meynell’s Gorse and Leicester South. However, at this stage of the project, only Gresley, Ashby, Coalville and Leicester South are included in the business case Network Rail is reviewing.
East Midlands Chamber is now supporting CRIL to engage with businesses along the route, with a member of the group presenting at a recent forum for Leicestershire-based members.
The Chamber’s chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Following the monumental efforts from the CRIL team of volunteers to reopen this historic railway line, bringing the project into the scope of Network Rail is a welcoming development and will raise hopes it can be brought to life.
“While there is still a long way to go, bringing this important rail route back to life would provide a boost to the economy for the many communities along the route by opening up further connections with the rest of the region and country.
“Improved connectivity would enable companies to tap into a wider labour pool across Derbyshire and Leicestershire. The proposed Leicester South station, meanwhile, would complement Leicester City’s plans for an expanded King Power Stadium and wider development scheme.”
Network Rail and Campaign for Reopening the Ivanhoe Line want to engage with businesses
CRIL, which was founded in 2019, will support Network Rail as a member of the programme board by engaging with local politicians and businesses. The relevant local authorities will decide on where stations, access and car parking are located.
The group’s business liaison manager Stacey Ash said: “The decision to take our project to the next stage is a fantastic boost for the communities along the Ivanhoe Line, which could benefit from improved journey times and better connectivity across the region, regeneration of areas surrounding stations and a healthier environment.
“We now need to engage even more closely with our local stakeholders, including businesses and residents, to help us understand their needs so we can fully articulate the benefits a reopened Ivanhoe Line will deliver.”
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We welcome the opportunity to work with all stakeholders along the line to further develop the business case to justify the reopening of the Ivanhoe Line to passengers, building on the work done so far by CRIL.
“We encourage businesses to think about how a reopened line may be incorporated into their future business plans and to feedback via CRIL any economic or employee benefits they feel it might bring to them.”
To speak with CRIL about how the Ivanhoe Line would support their business or employees, contact Stacey Ash at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the CRIL, visit www.ivanhoeline.org.