News stories

Against the odds, the UK's network of disused railway lines continues to make the news as the 21st Century throws up a host of transport, environmental and health challenges.

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Last updated 9th October 2021
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2021

October

8/10/21
Rail Advent
The Levenmouth rail link project has taken a significant step forward with the removal of the old disused track and redundant infrastructure from the former branch line.
5/10/21
Sussex Express
Members of the community in Barcombe are calling plans to infill a historic bridge ‘a wrecking-ball act’.
5/10/21
Rugby Observer
A contractor has been appointed to deliver improvements to Route 41 of the National Cycle Network – known as the Lias Line – which runs along a disused railway between Rugby and Leamington.
2/10/21
BBC News
Work to prevent the disused railway tunnel under Queensbury collapsing has finished at a cost of £7.2m, officials have said.

2021

September

30/9/21
BBC News
Plans have been submitted to turn Manchester's Grade II-listed Castlefield Viaduct into a New York-style urban park.
30/9/21
Redditch Standard
Roadworks are being arranged in Alcester to remove the old railway bridge unearthed as part of a housing development.
25/9/21
Glasgow Live
Scotland’s answer to the New York Highline - using a disused railway viaduct - has been unveiled at Bowling Harbour in West Dunbartonshire and is set to transform the lives of those living on the Forth and Clyde canal.
19/9/21
BBC News
A new long-distance cycling route is being created to connect the UK's only two surviving wrought iron viaducts - Bennerley and Meldon.
19/9/21
Autocar
A project to repurpose the Great Central's Catesby Tunnel as an aerodynamic testing facility is moving closer to fruition.
19/9/21
BBC News
A study has been commissioned into the viability of reopening the disused rail link between Portadown and Armagh City.
17/9/21
Birmingham Live
The West Midlands' regional leaders have agreed a mammoth £1.7 billion bid for transport investment, including extending the Metro system along disused railways.
11/9/21
BBC News
Rugged and unusable sections of a disused railway are being improved so more people can cycle or walk to work or school between Shepton Mallet and Wells.
9/9/21
North Somerset Times
Work to construct a part of the Strawberry Line cycle path along a section of disused railway has started after many months of negotiations.
8/9/21
LancsLive
Campaign groups have joined together to show their support for the refurbishment of an old tramway bridge and push for what they believe is right for the city.
8/9/21
Oxford Mail
The historic Rewley Road railway swing bridge will turn again after almost £1m was raised by conservationists to bring the structure back to life.
7/9/21
Liverpool Echo
Dock Branch Park will become a new public space in Birkenhead, built on a disused railway as part of plans to revamp the Wirral town.
2/9/21
Birmingham Live
Work to transform the 183-year-old Grade I listed Curzon Street Station as part of HS2's Birmingham terminus has got underway and will take a year to complete.

2021

August

23/8/21
BBC News
A memorial to the ten men known to have died during the construction of Queensbury Tunnel has been installed close to its northern entrance.
19/8/21
Rugby Advertiser
Councillors have given the go-ahead for a railway bridge to be demolished between Rugby and Leamington Spa, but some say more needs to be done to preserve these impressive structures.
19/8/21
New Civil Engineer
Fifteen previously unthreatened structures have been added to Highways England’s controversial works programme to infill or demolish heritage rail assets.
19/8/21
The Stray Ferret
Ambitious plans to extend the Nidderdale Greenway along a disused railway are set to make progress with the formation of a steering group to oversee the project.
18/8/21
Malvern Gazette
The former railway from Worcester to Leominster is the focus of a group called the WBL Greenway which is attempting to resurrect it as a 25-mile walking and cycling route.
11/8/21
New Civil Engineer
Engineers, transport planners and the local authority have all hit out at Highways England’s proposal to infill a 156-year-old disused rail bridge in the South Downs National Park.
6/8/21
Rail Advent
Part of the trackbed of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway could be secured for future railway use, but only if the Department for Transport gives its approval.
5/8/21
Air Quality News
Swansea Council is looking to extend its active travel network by creating a new 1.6km route along a disused railway between Grovesend and Pontarddulais.

2021

July

30/7/21
The Guardian
Victorian railway bridges that were due to be filled in with concrete in an act previously decried as 'cultural vandalism' could be repurposed as part of a scheme to encourage walking and cycling, the Transport Secretary has announced.
28/7/21
Evening Standard
The former railway station at Bassenthwaite Lake near Keswick has been transformed into a cafe with a replica steam train outside.
26/7/21
New Civil Engineer
Highways England has reversed its decision to infill an historic bridge in south-west Scotland following pressure from local residents, councillors and members of a railway campaign group.
23/7/21
Swindon Advertiser
The Swindown and Cricklade Railway’s big restoration project continues as work begins on laying the track that will eventually reconnect the two towns.
21/7/21
The Guardian
The government’s roads agency could be forced to remove hundreds of tonnes of concrete it used to fill in a Victorian railway bridge in a project that was condemned as the first act of 'cultural vandalism' in a nationwide plan.
20/7/21
Bristol Live
Sections of the disused track on the Portishead railway, some of which date back to the 1920s, are to be recycled as part of a project with the Avon Valley Railway.
19/7/21
Daily Record
Campaigners fighting to protect historic railway bridges in Dumfries and Galloway claim planned infilling works require planning permission, but the Council disagrees.
17/7/21
Daily Mail
Row as 143-year-old Queensbury Tunnel is threatened by Highways England 'cultural vandals' who want to block the historic structure which is earmarked for reuse as part of a greenway between Bradford and Halifax.
13/7/21
Leeds Live
Plans to transform the disused but iconic Holbeck Viaduct into a picturesque public walkway have gathered pace, with overwhelming support from various groups.
12/7/21
ITV News
Campaigners are hoping to connect communities in the Rhondda and Afan valleys by reopening a 3,443-yard long tunnel for walkers and cyclists.
9/7/21
New Civil Engineer
Campaigners have called on Dumfries & Galloway Council to take urgent action after a 'perverse decision' by planners has threatened to make the proposed reopening of a Scottish railway more difficult and costly.
8/7/21
In Your Area
Anglesey MP Virginia Crosbie is hoping to hear news about her £50,000 bid for a study on reopening the disused Amlwch-Gaerwen railway.
8/7/21
Rutland & Stamford Mercury
A Victorian railway bridge near Peterborough could face demolition if a community group cannot persuade their council to take on its ownership.
6/7/21
In Your Area
Approval has been given for discussions to start to bring a former Staffordshire Moorlands railway into council ownership.
6/7/21
The Railway Hub
Attempts are being made to fill in or demolish disused railway bridges using fast-track planning powers to avoid objections, Parliament has been told.
6/7/21
Island Echo
The Island Line could be extended from Sandown to Newport at an initial cost of £67M under plans submitted to the Department for Transport by the Isle of Wight Council.
4/7/21
Daily Mail
Dozens of picturesque railway bridges are at risk of being filled in with unsightly concrete or demolished amid health and safety concerns from road bosses.
3/7/21
The Times
Forty-six disused railway bridges under threat of being filled in have been given a reprieve amid mounting anger over 'vandalism' caused by the policy.

2021

June

28/6/21
Daily Mail
Highways England has been accused of vandalism after pouring hundreds of tonnes of aggregate and concrete beneath a 159-year-old Victorian railway bridge to 'stop it collapsing' rather than repairing it.
26/6/21
Eastern Daily Press
The possibility of reopening a disused railway station on the edge of Norwich is being considered as part of proposals for up to 4.000 new homes.
26/6/21
The Scotsman
A 173-year-old station building originally earmarked for demolition during reconstruction of the Borders Railway is being restored as a bar/kitchen in a village that has no pub.
22/6/21
Secret Manchester
The National Trust has officially unveiled plans to transform Manchester's disused Castlefield Viaduct into a stunning new green space for city dwellers to take advantage of.
21/6/21
New Civil Engineer
Highways England claims it has 'no plans' to infill a Cornish bridge built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel despite telling the local council that the work was going ahead under Permitted Development powers 'to prevent an emergency arising'.
18/6/21
Ilkley Gazette
At their first general meeting, the Friends of Wharfedale Greenway have welcomed progress made in planning the new foot and cycle route which will run along a disused railway.
17/6/21
The Courier
Plans have been unveiled for the reopening of the Levenmouth rail link, with two stations, double track and electrification.
16/6/21
Radio Exe
A funding bid to develop a business case for reopening the railway between Tavistock and Plymouth has been submitted by Devon County Council.
15/6/21
Wales 24/7
Swansea Council is looking to extend its walking and cycling network by creating a new 1.6km route following the old railway between Grovesend and Pontarddulais.
10/6/21
Gloucestershire Live
The Gloucestershire half of a disused railway bridge is still without public rights of way protection three years after a bureaucratic blunder was discovered.
9/6/21
Highways
A council has thrown doubt over Highways England’s controversial work to infill a bridge over the former Eden Valley Railway at Great Musgrave without planning permission.
5/6/21
Cmbrlnd & Wstmrlnd Herald
Supporters of two heritage railways are among those who have criticised Highways England over the infilling of a bridge vital for a connection between their two lines.
4/6/21
Leicestershire Live
Proposals to restore the Leicester-Rugby line for passenger services have been jeopardised by delays in the response of Leicestershire councils.

2021

May

27/5/21
Hull Live
A councillor is set to oppose an application to continue filling a disused cutting on the former Hull & Barnsley Railway, claiming it threatens nearby residents' privacy and the environment.
26/5/21
Stratford-upon-Avon Herald
Reopening an old tramway between Stratford and Shipston as a cycle route is feasible according to a study conducted by a new community interest company which is determined to turn the project into reality.
14/5/21
DevonLive
The restoration of passenger services on the 14-mile Okehampton line - which has not seen regular trains for around 50 years - is now one step closer after track and sleeper relaying was completed.
14/5/21
Lichfield Live
A study has begun that could see a new route being opened up for walkers and cyclists on the disused railway connecting Brownhills and Lichfield.
14/5/21
Construction Enquirer
Network Rail has started the tender race for a contractor to reopen passenger services between a new station at Portishead and Bristol Temple Meads.
11/5/21
Oxford Mail
A historic Victorian railway bridge in Oxfordshire will be restored thanks to protestors who campaigned to save it from demolition.
10/5/21
New Civil Engineer
The HRE Group has produced a report highlighting the 24 most noteworthy railway structures that face demolition or infilling under Highways England’s controversial plan.
1/5/21
Free Press
A disused railway tunnel in Usk has been closed to the public after bricks fell from the arch.

2021

April

29/4/21
In Your Area
A fixed distant signal has been installed on the former line between Ilfracombe and Willingcott - which now forms National Cycle Route 27 - as part of a railway heritage trail being developed along the route.
28/4/21
New Civil Engineer
Herefordshire Council has rejected Highways England’s planning applications to infill two disused railway bridges spanning the route of a proposed greenway.
26/4/21
Northern Echo
After 40 years of redundancy, Gasworks East Tunnel at King's Cross has been reopened as part of the East Coast main line upgrade.
25/4/21
Yorkshire Live
A stunning studio apartment built into the entrance of a disused railway tunnel has been made available to book on Airbnb.
22/4/21
Fraserburgh Herald
The Campaign for North East Rail is calling for train services to be reinstated to Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Banchory, and more than 1,000 people have signed the campaign’s petition.
21/4/21
New Civil Engineer
Construction and flood risk concerns have been alleviated as part of plans to reopen the disused Portishead rail line.
19/4/21
Northern Echo
The Victoria tramway tunnel that runs for 2.25 miles under Newcastle - once used for transporting coal and as a wartime air-raid shelter - is set to reopen in May.
15/4/21
Construction Index
Railway heritage campaigners have secured support from the House of Commons Transport Committee in their campaign to protect disused structures from Highways England’s wrecking ball.
14/4/21
Chronicle Live
Thousands of residents are outraged at plans to reopen the railway between Consett and Gateshead - a corridor rich in wildlife and used by many for walking and cycling.
4/4/21
Nottinghamshire Live
Community campaigners are optimistic the world-renowned Bennerley Viaduct will reopen later this year after extensive refurbishment.

2021

March

31/3/21
South Wales Argus
A long-running project to build a greenway along part of the disused Wye Valley Railway has culminated in the reopening of Tidenham Tunnel.
29/3/21
Telegraph & Argus
Queensbury Tunnel campaigners who want to see the historic structure safeguarded for future generations have hit out after a Minister blamed a landowner for current difficulties.
24/3/21
Fife Today
Network Rail is advising people who use the disused Leven railway corridor to ‘be aware’ as activity increases ahead of work to reinstate the line.
17/3/21
Shropshire Star
A rail group is bidding for government funding to investigate reopening a disused railway from Ironbridge to Bridgnorth.
17/3/21
North Wales Chronicle
A £50,000 bid has been submitted to fund a feasibility study into reopening the disused Amlwch-Gaerwen railway.
17/3/21
BBC News
Campaigners who want Queensbury Tunnel to be used for cyclists and walkers say more money has been committed to abandoning the Victorian structure than it would cost to repair.
15/3/21
Leamington Courier
Plans to create an urban garden on the disused railway viaducts in the Old Town area of Leamington are being discussed.
13/3/21
South Wales Guardian
Welsh Ministers have been urged to put their hands in their pockets for a cycle path between Carmarthen and Llandeilo, much of which follows the route of a disused railway.
13/3/21
Leicestershire Live
Sustainable Transport Northamptonshire is seeking to reinstate the old Rugby-Leicester railway, together with two passenger stations, on the former Great Central route.
12/3/21
News & Star
An MP has submitted a bid to the Restoring Your Railways Fund for a feasibility study into the potential for reinstating the old railway connecting Silloth and Carlisle.
11/3/21
Somerset Live
Part of a former Somerset railway could be brought back into use to provide a vital pedestrian and cycling link into Shepton Mallet town centre.
10/3/21
Stoke-on-Trent Live
MPs and local councils are hoping it will be second time lucky as they look to secure government funding for a plan to restore the Stoke-to-Leek railway which has been closed since 1988.
9/3/21
Wilts & Gloucs Standard
Plans to create six new circular cycle routes through the Cotswold Water Park have stepped up a gear, including one along a disused railway.
8/3/21
Yorkshire Post
Sustrans and the North York Moors National Park Authority are looking into the possibility of reopening Sandsend and Kettleness tunnels for cyclists using the Cleveland Way.
6/3/21
Northern Echo
Reinstating a disused railway line in the north-east would provide major economic, environmental and social benefits to the region, council leaders claim.
5/3/21
Northern Echo
An ambitious plan to extend a railway link in County Durham now has the backing of four local MPs, but some local councillors are not convinced.
5/3/21
News & Star
The leader of Carlisle City Council has indicated that significant progress could be imminent on efforts to reopen Waverley Viaduct across the River Lune, a long hoped-for project in the city.

2021

February

26/2/21
Edinburgh Reporter
An MSP has called for the former Powderhall railway to be transformed into a green corridor, linking up with walking and cycle paths in north Edinburgh.
26/2/21
Shropshire Star
The Cambrian Heritage Railways organisation is bidding for Government funding to reopen the first section of the old Oswestry-Gobowen railway that was closed in the 1960s.
24/2/21
Oxford Mail
Residents in Horspath are protesting to stop a historic Victorian railway bridge from being removed against the community's wishes.
24/2/21
Oxford Mail
Hopes of reinstating the railway between Witney and Oxford are back on track, with a proposal set to be submitted to Government.
23/2/21
Construction Index
More than 10,000 people have signed a petition objecting to Highways England’s plans to infill or demolish more than 100 disused railway bridges.
23/2/21
Northern Echo
A campaign to reopen Durham's historic Belmont Viaduct as a bridleway and cycle route is gathering pace.
22/2/21
Daily Record
Police have been forced to break up a large party - which was in breach of coronavirus restrictions - in a disused railway tunnel in west Glasgow.
21/2/21
Coventry Live
Rotarians have unveiled plans for a Railway Art Heritage Trail in a bid to upgrade a section of disused railway used as part of the Great Central Way.
19/2/21
New Civil Engineer
Network Rail has launched a search for contractors to reopen the Portishead to Pill line.
15/2/21
Gloucestershire Live
The Tintern Wireworks Bridge, which carried a goods branch across the border between Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire, is to undergo repairs.
15/2/21
Alloa Advertiser
Calls to reopen the Alloa-Dunfermline railway are continuing despite the route being left out of a recent Scottish government transport plan.
10/2/21
Automotive Testing
The Catesby Tunnel testing facility in Northamptonshire is set to provide a state-of-the-art facility for aerodynamic testing and vehicle development when it opens later this year.
10/2/21
BBC News
A petition has been launched calling for the 21-mile Leamside railway in the north-east to be reopened, a move which the local MP claims "would bring massive benefits".
6/2/21
DevonLive
A disused Victorian signal box at Devon's Torre Station has been sold at auction for £65,750 - well over the guide price - and could now be converted into a holiday home.
5/2/21
Wales Online
After ten years of planning, fundraising and feasibility work, a heritage trust is finally starting to restore a vast railway goods shed in Llanelli.
1/2/21
Chronicle Live
A historic rail bridge at the bottom of Northumberland garden faces infill as part of a wider move by Highways England to infill or bulldoze hundreds of similar structures.
1/2/21
Road.cc
Highways England has been accused of using emergency powers to demolish or infill disused railway bridges that campaigners say could be given a new lease of life as part of cycle routes.

2021

January

29/1/21
BBC News
Contractors taking up rails from a street in Weymouth have discovered another track below it that is thought to be part of a branch line from the 1930s.
28/1/21
County Gazette
A group campaigning to develop a network of paths along disused railway lines in Somerset are submitting a public right of way claim after Highways England fenced off a tunnel used for decades by local walkers.
27/1/21
Yorkshire Live
Ambitious plans for a mass transit system in West Yorkshire – including possible tramways on disused railways – is dependent on accessing billions in government cash.
24/1/21
Chronicle Live
MP Bridget Phillipson has said that reopening the disused Leamside Line in County Durham would boost local jobs and improve transport access to the area.
23/1/21
Oxford Mail
A £760 million fund will be spent on reinstating the old line between Bicester and Bletchley as part of the East-West Rail project, with services due to start in 2025.
17/1/21
Newbury Today
Heritage enthusiasts have discovered that a disused railway bridge outside Hampstead Norreys is one of hundreds across the country at risk of demolition or infill by government agency Highways England.
15/1/21
South London Press
Police have seized equipment that could have been used for an illegal rave in a disused South London railway tunnel, breaching Covid-19 restrictions.
8/1/21
The Scotsman
The potential conversion of old railway lines into cycle and walking routes is being blocked by plans to infill more than 100 bridges, including more than 20 in Scotland, campaigners have claimed.
5/1/21
Forbes
Hundreds of potentially useful disused railway structures are threatened with destruction by government agency Highways England, argues an alliance of engineers, active travel campaigners and greenway developers.

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