A SCHEME to restore the rail link between Leek and the national network in Stoke-on-Trent could be about to get up a head of steam.
Work on the long-awaited first phase that would connect a new rail hub in the town with Leekbrook Junction is likely to begin in April, depending on agreed funding.
The total cost of the Moorlands and City Railways ‘Reconect Leek’ project is estimated at around £810,000.
The cost of the initial relaying o 200-metres of track northwards from Leekbrook to Leek will be £40,000 – with the Churnet Valley heritage railway providing £21,000 funding towards the work.
The district council-backed Moorlands Partnership Board is set to consider providing the additional £19,000 at it’s meeting next week, at the expense of deferring it’s support for the Leek Victoria Buildings project until the 2019-20 financial year.
Plans to restore the rail link between Stoke-on-Trent and Leek have been highlighted as a key element of the regeneration of North Staffordshire.
The Moorlands & City Railways project to re-open the 10 miles of line between Stoke and Leek, and reintroduce a regular passenger service, has featured in the Northern Gateway Partnership agreement between seven local authorities in North Staffordshire and Cheshire.
This joint initiative between the various authorities focuses on “unlocking the economic benefits” for when the planned HS2 high speed rail line reaches the region.
According to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council leader Sybil Ralphs the re-opening of the Stoke to Leek line is just as vital.
“I am totally behind linking Leek with Stoke-on-Trent and the national rail network once again, and I think we should now push forward with this project as quickly as possible,” she said .
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council is one of the Northern Gateway partners.
Coun Ralphs added: “I think it [rail link’t will bring huge benefits to the Moorlands, both in terms of employment and tourism, and I intend to do everything in my power to make sure it happens.
“I have discussed this with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and I’m 110% sure of their support for the project, too,
“Churnet Valley Railway has achieved so much progress over the years and now, working with Moorland & City Railways, I believe even more can be achieved. We should be looking to re-open the line again and certainly before HS2 reaches the region.”