We welcome your pledge to grow the railways, which featured prominently in the recent Strategic Vision for Rail.
Many communities want to see a larger rail network and there is demand for new and reopened rail links across the country. Such investment can bring many benefits. It gives people better access to vital services and jobs, makes new housing and other development more sustainable, and reduces pressure on the roads.
But rail projects are difficult to deliver. Despite good will and a strong business case, many local authorities lack the skills and resources to take projects through a long and expensive development process.
To ensure that you can deliver on your commitment to grow the railways we are therefore calling on you to establish a 'network development fund'. Administered by the Department for Transport, the fund would pay for project development for new and reopened stations and lines which reach an agreed standard with the best projects joining a pool of national projects to be taken to full development and implementation.
We call on you to establish such a fund at the earliest opportunity.