Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has £500m to spend on finding ways to bring railways axed in the 1960s back into use and officials might be tempted to look at the route which once linked Furness with the foot of Windermere.

The Beeching Report, by British Railways chairman Richard Beeching, resulted in the closure of around 5,000 miles of track and more than 2,300 stations - to counter mounting financial losses on the national network as cars and lorries took over.

One line which survived the Beeching Axe was that from Barrow to Whitehaven along the Cumbrian coast.

Less fortunate was the former Furness Railway branch line linking Ulverston to Lakeside, via Plumpton Junction and Greenodd.

Only the section from Haverthwaite to Lakeside survives as a preserved steam railway but there were serious suggestions 20 years ago that the missing sections could be restored to use.

The Department for Transport is asking local authorities and community groups to propose ways to spend the £500m on feasibility studies of routes which could be restored.

Already likely to get financial support is  the former Ashington and Blyth line and that from Fleetwood to Poulton-le-Fylde.

The Mail, on Saturday, January 8 in 2000, noted: "A Furness tourist railway could be used as a major park-and-ride site to help take car pressure off the Lake District.

"Supporters of the idea, which could cost £5m, say it would be in line with Government policies to get more people out of their cars and on to public transport, and to protect the environment.

"The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, which has more than 100,000 visitors a year, already acts as an unofficial park-and-ride service.

"Its car parks are often full in the summer as car owners take the trains to Lakeside  and then the ferries up Windermere."

The former 7.5-mile line between Plumpton Junction, near Ulverston, was opened in June 1869 and was shut to passengers in 1965 and to freight in 1967.

Tim Owen, chairman of the Furness Railway Trust, said in 2000: "This may be an appropriate time for a feasibility study to be undertaken to examine the options for the extension of the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway and how it might be used to relieve traffic congestion in the central Lakes area."