True to my word about a year ago, I’ve written an article about Beeching! We’ve celebrated quite a number of milestones in the last 12 months, and another is looming; it is 50 years since Dr Beeching published his enquiry into Britain’s railways which lead to the systematic dismantling of the vast majority of the branch lines across this country. The Reshaping of British Railways and it’s sister report, the snappily titled The Development of the Major Railway Truck Routes published two years later set in motion the eradication of nearly 55% of all of Britain’s railways. The loss was felt across the nation and at a time when demand for rail travel is at a level that hasn’t been seen since the 1920s and our road network has reached saturation, we now suffer the consequences of those rather short-sighted actions. It has been widely accepted since the 1960s that the methods of obtaining the numbers used within the reports was underhand; choosing days to visit the stations when the number of passengers was going to be disproportionately low compared with peak times.
Anyone who takes a walk in countryside surrounding peaceful Wiltshire market towns such as Marlborough, Devizes, or Westbury would find it a crying shame that such tranquility might be spoilt by the development of new housing estates, and the increase in noise and pollution they can bring. In fact it’s not just that more houses potentially means loosing more green spaces, or the fact that villages surrounding towns eventually get swallowed up. I used the afore-mentioned towns because I live in Wiltshire, but they could in fact be any middle-sized town where successive governments have failed to make sufficient infrastructure provisions. These towns get developments tacked on around the edge of them without much thought given to the inevitable extra vehicle movements these extra houses create. suddenly you get to the stage where a by-pass is needed, but no by-pass can be built because it’s either too expensive, or there’s something in the way, like a hill, or a new housing estate. In a recent interview for BBC Wiltshire, Devizes MP Claire Perry argued that plans at both a local and national level would try to ensure that this didn’t happen in the future. Read the rest of this entry