Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Thursday, June 07, 2007
coming up on the down
All that lovely track on the extension has been lifted! This is however a good sign being preparation work for laying it permanently at the end of the summer once the planning permission has come through.
Why we need planning permission when all we are doing is correcting the mess made by Beeching I can only guess at, but it probably has a lot to do with keeping bureaucrats in jobs!
With hindsight surely as even in the 60s some of the government realised these lines would have to one day be reopened the least that could have been done was that ex-BR land should have been held in Trust for the nation. Rent could have been charged and it would have reduced the subsidy, rather than selling off the land for next to nothing with no rules on how it could be 'developed'. The BR Property Board is lumbered with hundreds of empty viaducts etc that it's still responsible for. I don't think it would be mischievous to suggest that Sustrans was mugged into taking on some of these responsibilities with all the costs and no returns - precisely the position BR had found itself in.
The idea behind the petition is that the government needs to relax planning rules for new railways now and also should release funds to allow the land for rail reinstatement to be far easier to acquire, combining subsidy (based on benefit to the environment and community), planning permission and (occasionally) automatic compulsory purchase in one package. This would kick start new rail building at the same time as sending a message to the wider public that the new rail age is upon us. It will also give us a head start over those sad nations that are tying their future to unsustainable (road) transport. This of course would not involve only the S&D, but many many more lines in the UK, which is covered more thoroughly in our associated Rail Revival blogsite.