The foolishness of the railway cuts of the 1960s becomes more apparent with each passing year. Dawlish, on the Devon coast, is just the latest example of cutting a system beyond its own resilience.
Rising passenger numbers have led to dangerous overcrowding on some lines. Increased freight necessitates the controversial HS2. And extreme weather means whole counties can be cut off from the rest of the UK, as in Dawlish.
After the Beeching cuts, the Riviera line on the South Devon Railway Wall remained the single rail artery between West Devon and Cornwall and the rest of the UK. This is a vulnerable but amazing engineering feat designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and opened in 1846. It runs along tidal waters for 13 miles and is open to the sea for four of them.
The recent extreme weather undermined the line at Dawlish, closing it for at least six weeks. The Western Morning News was reporting this line could be cut for up to six months. Plymouth, a city of quarter of a million people, no longer has a rail link to the rest of the UK.
Tim Jones, of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, said, “We’ve done some initial assessments of what it will cost and we estimate it will be between £1m and £2m a day.” That’s a range of £42-£365m for Cornwall which is one of the poorest in the UK.
Had the Beeching cuts not taken place, an alternative rail route via Okehampton would have been available for passengers and freight. London and South Western Railway’s Plymouth to Exeter inland route skirted the western edge of Dartmoor, but the central part of the line was closed and ripped up in 1968, as a result of Beeching.
Former MP for Totnes, Anthony Steen, had argued for the line to be reopened. One of the arguments was the risk to the Riviera line from flooding or erosion, which was prescient of the last few days.
The Okehampton to Bude/North Cornwall/Bodmin to Wadebridge railways (the latter now the Camel Trail), closed between 1966 and 1967, would have provided another route further south, between Cornwall and Devon.
Beeching has many defenders. At a single point in time, on a very narrow cost-benefit analysis, with all other things being equal, he probably was right. But we live in a dynamic economy and have a road network that couldn’t reasonably scale to cope with significant economic growth.
Leaving just one 170-year old rail line, partly running along a shoreline, into a peninsula with 1.6 million residents and 700,000 visitors doesn’t sound particularly resilient, but a very London-based decision.
Devon and Cornwall, along with the rest of the UK, will suffer for Beeching’s lack of long-term vision for decades to come.
Like our Facebook Page
The Controversial Beginning of Tesla Motors – a Green Giant
Tackling The Environmental Challenges Of Last-Mile Delivery
How Eco-Friendly Shoes Make a Bigger Difference Than You Think
Can You Use Your PC In an Eco-Friendly Manner?
How Pain Management Hurts the Environment, and What You Can Do to Help
4 Countries That Have Banned Single-Use Plastic
What Is Your Carbon Footprint and How Can You Reduce it?
How Business Leaders Can Positively Impact Water Scarcity
Plant-Based Protein Coffee is Eco-Friendly & Healthy
Eco-Friendly Restaurants That Are Bringing the Outside Inside
Brian Sheth and Sheth Sangreal Foundation Donate $15 Million to Global Wildlife Conservation
8 Great Tips to Find an Eco-Conscious Moving Company
Eco-Friendly Gardeners Can Make Compost from Organic Waste
Can Employers Help the Planet with Work from Home Policies?
Switching to an Electric Car to Help the Environment? Here’s How to Find the Cheapest Insurance
Creating a Green Basement Environment for a Healthier Home
More People Are Practicing Eco-Conscious Lawn-Care
Choosing the Best Air Filter as Pollution Levels Worsen
Why You Need to Know These Hard Facts About Ethical Investing
9 Tips to Write Stellar Papers as an Environmental Science Major
- Energy3 months ago
How To Choose the Right Solar Inverter for Your Home?
- Energy3 months ago
How to Choose the Best Solar Panel for Your Home
- Environment10 months ago
Importance of Using a Water Purifier in an Area with High Pollution
- Environment3 months ago
Reduce Industry Footprints with Sustainable Material Swaps