British politicians consider reopening rail lines closed in 1960s

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Urs Beugger
LONDON – Rail congestion in the United Kingdom has prompted some members of the government to consider rehabilitating railroad lines removed from service half a century ago, The Sun reports.

“Rail travel has transformed over the last 20 years and our railways are carrying twice as many passengers as they did before privatisation," says Chris Grayling, the secretary of state for transportation. “But we need a new way of working to help our railway deal with the challenges it faces.”

Grayling cites lines such as the “Varsity” line linking Oxford and Cambridge, an 89-mile stretch between Edinburgh and Carlisle, a line between Southampton to Dorchester, and a route connecting Nottingham to London Marylebone.

Most of the candidates for rehabilitation were victims of the infamous "Beeching Axe" that closed a number a number of rural branch lines on the recommendation of Dr. Richard Beeching, chairman of the British Railways Board between 1961 and 1965. Beeching's modernization plans closed more than 4,000 miles of track and 2,000 stations.

Grayling says that reopening the lines also has the potential to spur local economies, alleviate delays caused by overcrowded rail lines, and create new jobs as it becomes possible to operate additional trains.
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