20. What assessment he has made of the viability of new railway stations funded through (a) the new stations fund and (b) alternative funding arrangements. (905589)
We know that rail investment and new stations provide a real boost for a local economy. I am very pleased that, since January 2014, 10 new stations have opened or reopened in England and Wales, funded by the new stations fund, local growth deals and by local partnerships. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced last year that another £20 million will be available for new station fund bids, and that fund will be open for bids very soon.
Given that new stations are doing well and providing a boost to local economies and the environment, does the Minister agree that the town of Wellington in my constituency is an excellent candidate for a new metro railway station? A recent petition received an overwhelmingly positive response while the feasibility study showed an economic benefit. Will she also clarify our next steps in qualifying for new station funding?
My hon. Friend is a Taunton girl born and bred and has campaigned assiduously on this and many other issues since assuming her seat. I have met her to discuss this matter, and we are looking forward to seeing the proposals. We have changed the terms and conditions of the new stations fund so that promoters do not have to get to the GRIP 3 stage before their submission for funding. I am looking forward to seeing this and other applications.