Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Thursday, October 12, 2006
You sometimes wonder how it ever got to this - that a railway that will HAVE to be rebuilt can have houses built on or near its trackbed! This is the scene at Cole, 40 years to the day after closure.
It's clear from the picture that a diversionary route could easily be built here, but even with that in place these houses would be very close to the track. Obviously at some point trains WILL pass through Cole again, so a solution will need to be found.
The solution is not only simple but also elegant. With the housing market still quite bouyant most of these houses will be for sale at some point. So all we need to do is buy them as they become available, rent them out, then put the line back in place when needed. Rental agreements would clearly state that the line will be rebuilt and that the tenant would have to agree to this as a condition of taking on the lease.
Given 15 to 20 years before reinstatement as the ideal set up, the property would actually cost us nothing once the rental income is taken into account. Even where a house would need to be demolished there would be various cash inflows from salvageable materials.
Harsher folk may say 'Forget such subtle schemes, as a public railway we'll be free to use compulsory purchase'. True enough, but what legacy would that leave us in relation to the local communities we'll be serving? We need to work with them, not against them, and what is worse than turning somebody out of their house?
No, we'll do it in a gentler way, an S&D way as always ...