Transport secretary Chris Grayling also indicated that the government would be looking to reopen more of the regional rail routes that were mothballed in the 1960s as part of the Beeching cuts.
The DfT said proposals were already on the table to restore passenger services on suburban lines around Bristol, a freight route through Birmingham, the Okehampton to Exeter line and between Blyth and Ashington in County Durham.
Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport said: “Not so long ago, rail policy was about how many lines and stations should be closed. Now it’s Dr. Beeching in reverse, with the Government looking at where lost lines can be reopened to connect communities and support jobs and housing.
“Today’s announcement is great news for places across the country who were cut off by Dr Beeching, but it is desperately difficult to reopen a rail line. This announcement needs to be backed both with new investment and a commitment to guiding local authorities through the sometimes labyrinthine processes of the railway.”
Chris Grayling added: “The last few years have seen massive growth on Britain’s railways. This industry has reversed decades of decline under British Rail, delivered new investment and new trains, and doubled the number of passengers.
“But now we need to build on that success by building a new model for the 2020s and beyond, one more able to deal with the huge rise in passenger numbers and the challenges of an increasingly congested network.”