A blow to Ivanhoe hopes
Reopening a historic railway route to passengers would cost tax-payers £50 million, it was revealed today.
Leicestershire County Council says it does not have enough cash to revive the Ivanhoe Line, which runs from Leicester to Burton-on-Trent.
The level crossing in Coalville on the Ivanhoe Line
The route, now the National Forest Line, has been studied by experts for the past six months.
Their job has been to identify the infrastructure needed, where trains would stop and how much cash it would take to run the line.
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County Hall, which released the report today, says new stations would be built at Bede Island, in Leicester, Leicester Forest East, Kirby Muxloe, Coalville, Ashby, Moira and Castle Gresley, in South Derbyshire, if the project went ahead.
After the infrastructure was built, at a cost of £50 million, about £5 million a year would be then be needed to run it.
Researchers believe around 150,000 people a year would use the line, raising more than £500,000 if each paid an average single fare of £3.15.
But to make it financially viable, passenger numbers would need to be 10 times that amount, they say.
Council bosses say the Government would have to step in with cash, otherwise the project cannot get off the ground.
Cabinet member for transport, Councillor Nicholas Rushton, said: "It is a massive amount of money, and it is way beyond the means of this council.
"Everyone knows how great this would be for Leicestershire, but we could not achieve this on our own.
"I will be writing to ask the transport minister to consider funding the set-up costs."
Regular train services between Leicester and Burton, via Coalville and Ashby, have long been seen as a way to slash traffic congestion in the area.
County Hall believes the line could regenerate parts of north west Leicestershire and help cope with housing growth.
Freight traffic runs on the Ivanhoe Line, but it has not carried passengers since the 1960s.
Campaigner Gerald Box, of Appleby Magna, said: "I do not see that this should be abandoned.
"There is still a steady trickle of use from freight transport. Coal, aggregate and clay companies could be spoken to and convinced to pay towards the running of the line. They should have a rail expert employed full time on this project. They did this for canal restoration, and it has been a success."
County councillors voted to shelve the passenger scheme in 2000 after being told rail privatisation had made it too costly.
It was revealed, even if County Hall received more than £13 million to launch the service, an annual subsidy of £2.2million would have to be found towards running costs.
This figure is vastly below what it is believed is needed now.
County council transport expert Ian Drummond said: "There will be people who will be disappointed about what has been found in this report. It is looking almost impossible for us to do it on our own."