Once upon a time, when England was a green and pleasant land, a railway carried holidaymakers from Sidmouth, Devon, to join the London and South Western main line at Feniton and trains carried them back to their homes.
Now holidaymakers who want to go to Sidmouth are forced to travel by car and the Men from the Ministry are doing their best to make sure that they never get a chance to go there again by train.
The trackbed could be protected and the line reopened but the "transport planners" have decided to build a new section of the A30 road right across the trackbed near Feniton. This kind of shortsighted behaviour has been rife throughout Britain. Many old rail alignments have been used for roads or blocked by housing and there are still "planners" who have not woken up to the enormous problems of pollution and traffic congestion they have created by doing the road lobby's bidding. They are still trying to prevent the railways providing the environmentally friendly answer to transport problems.
At the 1992 public inquiry into the A30, various reasons were given to RDS for not crossing the old formation at a suitable bridging height, including the road drainage problems that would arise. Against us was the lack of interest in the line from British Rail and the consequent Department of Transport argument that the line could only be reopened as a private line. It was then said that the line could not be reopened, because a private company could not obtain powers of compulsory purchase for the old trackbed.
Now we have made contact with a local MP on this matter (copy to the Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions) asking, "Is it too late for a bridge for the railway to be incorporated into the road building work?" It should not be.
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