Stoke-on-Trent has made it through to the second round of the government’s current Railway Idea Fund with a bid to re-open Meir Station.
Two others – the re-instatement of the Stoke-to-Leek line and the reopening of Etruria Station are also set to benefit from additional Department of Transport support.
Meir Station is now in the running to receive up to £50k of funding to help take the initiative forward as one of 10 being progressed through the government in this round. Over 60 applications were submitted – the announcement was made recently by Chris Heaton-Harris, the Minister of State for Transport.
Meir Station, off George Avenue, was closed down in 1966, and today there is little evidence it existed at all. The submitted bid aims to re-open the station to improve links and transport options between Blythe Bridge and Longton.
The other two Stoke-on-Trent applications will receive support from the Department of Transport to look at taking forward for resubmission in the next Railway Ideas Fund round. – the Stoke-to-Leek line was a mothballed railway route which went from Stoke-on-Trent to Leek up until 1998. It would look to re-open expanding transport options between the city and Leek. While at Etruria Station, options would be explored to look at re-opening the station which closed in 2005.
The Meir applications, which were submitted by Jack Brereton, MP successfully made it through to the next round after evaluation by the Ideas Fund Panel, which was chaired by the Minister accompanied by Simon Clarke, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Sir Peter Hendy, Chair of Network Rail, Jackie Sadek, CEO UK Regeneration, and Isabel Dedring, Former London Deputy Mayor for Transport. The other two were submitted by Jack Brereton, MP and Jo Guideon, MP alongside Karen Bradley, MP and supported by Jonathan Gullis, MP.
Officials from the Department of Transport will now work with the city council, and MPs to specify the details of the work, the funding required and how promoters will be asked to work with and be advised by the Department. Viability, potential research options and appropriate joint government and timescales will be developed in coming weeks working with the leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cllr Abi Brown and Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage. Discussions will also take place with Cybil Ralph, Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
The local authority will also be asked to add its expertise for the Meir scheme around issues such as land ownership, planning consents, local plans, rights of way adjustments, environmental management and access to the station.
The news announced today links to the work already underway in the city as part of the Government’s £1.7 billion Transforming Cities Fund, which aims to make it easier, safer and quicker for people to travel and get to work by funding improved transport connections.
Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “This is fantastic news for the city that we’ve got to the next stage for Meir and are to receive further support for both Stoke-to- Leek line and the reopening of Etruria. These initiatives form part of our ambitious plans to transform transport in and around Stoke-on-Trent. These options would not only ease congestion on the city’s roads but it would significantly improve local transport and work links in and around Stoke-on-Trent. We will now work closely with the Department for Transport and other partners on Meir with the option for up to £50K funding to help with consideration for what goes through to the next round. We will also be working with government officials to look at what feasibly go forward from the other two initiatives to make them stronger bids in readiness for the next round of the Railway Ideas Fund in June. This is positive news for the residents of the city.
“We’re making huge investments to our transport networks already – for example our commitment to spend £10.7 million on improving our roads and pavements, upgrading traffic signals and repairing potholes.
“We can now work towards establishing a detailed business case about what would be needed to make this ambition reality. This is only the start of the process, but if these plans are implemented it will help to transform transport in the city for years to come.”
*Updated on 27 May following further information being made available from the Department for Transport.