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Campaign for Better Transport report identifies Kent railway lines it says should be reopened


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Campaigners have identified a number of railway lines in Kent they believe should be reconnected to mainline passenger services.

A report by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) lists a number of branch lines which could be restored to link with rail hubs in towns including Ashford, Paddock Wood and Tunbridge Wells.

Campaigners want Marsh rail services expanded. Picture: Gary Browne
Campaigners want Marsh rail services expanded. Picture: Gary Browne

The authors are calling for an ambitious £4.8 billion national expansion programme to bring an extra half a million people within walking distance of a train station.

Among the potential schemes identified in the report are the line between Lydd and Ashford via Appledore, a route from Paddock Wood to Cranbrook, and Tunbridge Wells via the former West station to Eridge.

The CBT has detailed 224 possible reopening projects, 33 of which should be prioritised initially.

However, these projects for the first round of reopenings do not include the identified Kent lines.

"The Beeching report’s legacy of disused and abandoned stations means there is no shortage of ideas for reopenings," the report states.

Lydd railway station staff in early 1900. Picture: Ashford Library
Lydd railway station staff in early 1900. Picture: Ashford Library
Tunbridge Wells West station building following its closure. Picture: Dr Robert Cockcroft, Kent Archaeological Society
Tunbridge Wells West station building following its closure. Picture: Dr Robert Cockcroft, Kent Archaeological Society

"But despite the surfeit of proposals and soaring ridership over the last 30 years, few new stations and lines have been added to the network.

"Reopening railways has the potential to transform communities.

"For both passengers and freight, rail is a high-quality national transport network that can give people access to a wealth of social and economic opportunities."

As part of its levelling-up agenda, the government has pledged £500 million towards a Restoring Your Railway Programme to deliver its manifesto commitment to start reopening lines and stations.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: "Our efforts to undo the damage of the Beeching closures are gathering pace, with work on new stations and lines that can level up communities right across the UK.

Steam trains on the Kent & East Sussex Railway at Tenterden
Steam trains on the Kent & East Sussex Railway at Tenterden
Tunbridge Wells West is now served by the Spa Valley Railway. Picture: Bob Kitchin
Tunbridge Wells West is now served by the Spa Valley Railway. Picture: Bob Kitchin

"I share the enthusiasm and ambition of local campaigners across the country pushing for their local lines to be reopened and this additional funding will help progress many more schemes."

The Autumn Budget confirmed that 13 more projects have been awarded up to £50,000 each to progress their plans to reinstate stations and restore lines.

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