Network Rail are beginning a study into the future of rail links in Lincolnshire, including the potential to restore services along the East Coast.
Senior strategic partner Andrew Thexton told county Councillors Lincolnshire was “well overdue” a new study since methodology changed some time ago.
“Lincolnshire’s an area that hasn’t really had any focus since we moved to more locally-based studies,” he said.
As well as looking at the existing network in the county Network Rail has also been asked by the Government to assess the impact of restoring the Beeching’s closures between Firsby and Louth. A previous scheme to restore the line was rejected earlier this year.
This line, as well as Mablethorpe, was included in the Restoring Your Railways proposals for reinstated beach enclosures.
“Although the scheme was rejected in its proposal for funding by the Department for Transport we were asked to assess the impact of [the] existing network and the opportunities to improve connectivity in Lincolnshire,” said Andrew.
The study, which is at an early stage, will look at both a conservative medium-term plan and an ambitious long-term plan for the county.
It is expected to take five months and be complete by the summer. It will cover the next 30 years.
Labour’s Boultham Ward Councillor Kev Clarke welcomed the report.
“Lincolnshire railways seem to be the poor cousin when you go around the country and look at other railways and how they operate.”
However, he indicated he would like to see better indications of funding.
Councillors pointed to a number of locations which could also use improvements.
North Kesteven District Council leader Conservative Councillor Richard Wright said Washingborough needed more services as 5,000 new homes were planned nearby, he also said it was a significant challenge for residents wanting to catch a train.
“At the moment if anyone wants to access the rail network, they have to drive to the centre of the city which leads to congestion, is not sustainable transport because its bringing carbon into the centre and it’s taking up car parking which should be for residents riding out of the city not just dispersing,” he said.
Lincoln Conservative councillor Thomas Dyer said there needed to be better improvements to local “hubs” including improved lighting and parking.
He also said the east-west connectivity to Nottingham needed improving, telling the chamber it took him 15 minutes to drive there, parking was a “gamble” and it cost £25 for two adults.
“Really, in the grand scheme of things if I was to get the train to Nottingham now, it would cost me more than it would in petrol and diesel and it would take longer.”
He asked what was going to take place to make it “easier, cheaper and better to travel by train”.
Others pointed to the north-south line between Peterborough and Spalding, while some raised concerns over the lack of connection between Boston/Skegness and Lincoln itself – something which can require a long transfer and wait in Sleaford.