The Department for Transport has confirmed it is actively working with a number of groups to explore the possibility of reopening old rail routes, axed under the so-called Beeching cuts of the 1960s.
It follows a call by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling a year ago, encouraging those in the public and private sector to submit proposals for potential projects to regenerate old lines.
The announcement will give fresh hope to dozens of campaign groups across the UK, who are still fighting to restore services cut more than half a century ago.
A spokesman for the Department for Transport told Sky News: “We are continuing to grow the rail network to deliver improvements for passengers, unlock new housing and support the economy, including by exploring opportunities to restore previously lost capacity.
“We have received a wide variety of proposals to enhance the railway from across the public and private sector, and are working with promoters to explore opportunities to re-open routes cut under Beeching.
“This is on top of exploring reopening the Northumberland Line for passenger use, supporting the reinstatement of stations on the Camp Hill Line, developing new rail links to Heathrow and a new station at Cambridge South.”
The spokesman said that due to the confidentiality issues around its market-led approach, the department was not yet in a position to release details of the proposed projects, but hoped to be able to provide more information in the year ahead.