Hundreds of miles of unused rail lines to be reopened to stop trains 'bursting at the seams'
Hundreds of miles of unused rail lines could be brought back into use in a bid to stop overcrowding, Chris Grayling has said.
The Department of Transport is to invite bids from metro mayors to redevelop parts of the 5,000 miles of railway line which has been closed since the 1960s.
The Transport Secretary said talks were already underway and claimed the plan would free up routes which are "bursting at the seams".
A new passenger route could go from Okehampton to Exeter and from Portishead to Bristol. Another in the north-east could run from Ashington and Blyth to Newcastle.
A train between Oxford and Cambrige is already set to reopen in the mid-2020s.
Mr Grayling told The Times: “The rail industry after a long period of decline has completely turned around since privatisation. What you have seen is 20 years of rapid growth to the point that we have got a system that is bursting at the seams and we have to change the way we run it.
“People say which is my priority: spend a billion pounds to shave a minute off the journey time or reopen some commuter lines so we get a better service for people? I would go for the latter any day of the week.”