6 August: news in brief

Second station funding boost for West Midlands

TWO stations in the West Midlands which were closed in January 1965 have moved a significant step closer to being reopened, with news of a £10 million grant from the Department for Transport. Darlaston and Willenhall were closed as part of the Beeching cutbacks, although the line itself between Wolverhampton and Walsall survived as a through route and was electrified as part of a wider upgrade in the region. It is the second grant towards restoring stations in the West Midlands in a few days. Last week the DfT announced £15 million towards reviving the stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell on the Camp Hill line. The West Midlands Combined Authority said the new contribution for Darlaston and Willenhall from the Department for Transport would be combined with other money from the region's HS2 Connectivity Fund. Birmingham City Council leader Councillor Ian Ward, who is also portfolio holder for transport on the Combined Authority, said the reopenings between Walsall and Wolverhampton ‘will encourage growth in industry and jobs in the Black Country as well as better linking communities to opportunities elsewhere’.

ScotRail changes its mind about toilet charges

SCOTRAIL has reversed a decision to make toilets on its large stations free, after an assessment concluded that they would not be ’viable’. In fact, the charge at Aberdeen will be going up, from 30p to 50p. The decision is in contrast to Network Rail’s policy, which has now abolished charges to use the toilets at all its managed stations in England and Scotland, including Edinburgh and Glasgow Central. Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart said: ‘I’m absolutely appalled that ScotRail has backtracked on its previous statement that it would look to remove charges for the use of toilets. The fact that it is now committed to retaining their levy on loos, at an even greater cost to the public, is an utter disgrace.’ ScotRail has been consulting other agencies within the industry, including British Transport Police. The operator said: ‘After carrying out full safety assessments, gaining feedback from industry partners and assessing the long-term costs, it was established that removing charges was not a viable option.’

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