During the 1960s hundreds of railway lines were axed because the government thought they were ‘surplus to requirements’. Now, it seems, the government thinks they might be useful again. Proof – if it were needed – that politicians are only human and can change their minds like the rest of us.
The original cuts to the rail network (collectively known by the British Rail Chairman who orchestrated them, Dr Richard Beeching) were pretty savage and involved thousands of miles of rail track being torn up. Some of the land has long since been built over or turned into roads or, in rural areas, turned into picturesque walks.
But some lines, according to the government, could be converted back again quite quickly and at relatively little cost. And the new routes they could offer could be pretty exciting. Consider the following.
Oxford to Cambridge
Re-opening the old ‘Varsity line’ between these two famous University cities could help not just all the students, teaching staff and other academics but all the staff now employed in the high tech companies that have sprung up around the two Cities. The train will go via Milton Keynes, (which simply didn’t exist in the 1960s) and will cut the time to go from Oxford to Cambridge on public transport from nearly four hours to just two.
Carlisle to Edinburgh
Most Scots would agree that any additional East – West routes can only be a good thing. Formerly called the ‘Waverley Route’ this line stopped in 1969 and if the entire route was re-opened, those living in the Scottish Borders would have access again to both Edinburgh and North-West England.
Bristol to Portishead
Bristol suburb Portishead is sometimes describes as ‘Britain’s biggest car park’ because links to other parts of the region are so bad. So this three-mile rail link to Bristol city centre – scheduled to re-open around 2021 – cannot come soon enough for some residents.