Turn disused railway lines into cycle paths, says London mayor

Boris Johnson calls on David Cameron to reuse neglected Beeching train lines

The Bristol to Bath cycle path uses the old Midland Railway's selection of tunnels and bridges

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London mayor Boris Johnson has called on prime minister David Cameron to resurrect disused railway lines as traffic-free cycle paths all over the UK.

Up to 5,000 miles of railway lines were shut down by Richard Beeching in the 1960s. Some – such as the Waverley Line in the Scottish Borders – are being reopened for train use and many more now carry new roads. 

However, many sections have already been turned into high-quality bike paths, as part of the National Cycle Network (NCN). Thse include the Bristol to Bath cycle path in the south-west, the Chester Railway Path in north-west England and the Newark to Cotham line in Lincolnshire.

Johnson believes there’s potential for more sections to follow suit. “[David Cameron] should announce a massive programme to take all the Beeching railway lines and turn them into cycleways across Britain,” he was quoted by The Times as saying.

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Martyn Brunt, NCN development manager at Sustrans, said about 1,200 miles of the network use old track beds, and that a further 500 miles have been put through the proposal and feasibility stages and need funding. He said the charity hasn’t been consulted by the government to expand the programme.