Decision to reopen Leek to Stoke line could be made 'by the end of the year'
By Richard Price - Local Democracy Reporter
15th Aug 2023 | Local News
A senior government minister has confirmed a decision could be made by the end of the year regarding proposals to reopen the Leek-Stoke line.
Rail minister Huw Merriman visited North Staffordshire and South Cheshire this week to view a number of projects which he is due to make a decision on.
He said there have been more than 100 proposals put forward as part of a £500m scheme to reverse the Beeching cuts of the 1960s – but conceded not all of these will be viable.
He stressed no decision has been made yet regarding the Leek-Stoke plans, but an announcement would take place before the end of the year.
He said: "When we make a decision during the course of this year about which ones we advance, then we'll make a decision on that one.
"We want to make sure all of these applications are properly assessed and properly moved forward to the next stage, so we have the business case and we have the opportunity to ask questions of local leaders if we've still got queries.
"We're committed to making sure decisions get made in the course of this year with regards to these railway projects.
"The Stoke-on-Trent MPs have been very successful in winning funds from government.
"There's been over £100m from Transforming Your Cities and the Levelling Up funds and over £30m for the Bus Service Improvement Plan.
"That demonstrates the delivery commitment from government and the MPs, but it also demonstrates the need here.
"We don't just want to deliver the funds, we want to get them delivered in terms of spades in the ground – so that's why Im determined to make decisions this year about these railway applications."
Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley is one of the those backing the scheme, and says she's hopeful the plans are given the green light.
She said: "Reopening the Leek to Stoke railway line would be a fantastic opportunity for the Moorlands.
"I was proud to chair the board that put the bid into the government.
"I have spoken to ministers about the bid and really hope we can go to the next stage."
During his visit, Mr Merriman was also able to see the site of the proposed new Meir Station in Stoke-on-Trent and he was also given a tour of the Goods Yard development next to Stoke Station.
Earlier in the day he visited Crewe, and discussed plans to bring HS2 to the town as well as regeneration in the area surrounding Crewe Station.