Open Jaw: 50 years on from Beeching
Where readers write back
Saturday 30 March 2013
Devon and Cornwall desperately need the full reinstatement of the second line. The existing line will remain the most sensible access to the English Riviera and is undoubtedly very pretty.However, the reason for its prettiness is also the reason it is so expensive to maintain, and the reason it is shut so often. A line via Okehampton and Tavistock makes sense.
Reinstating the Tavistock to Okehampton railway would be a great boost for the area. Okehampton has had a bad time recently, losing several big employers.
All very romantic to applaud the revival of rural trains. Meanwhile, several years ago, the direct rail link between two of the biggest cities in the country, Leicester and Coventry, was cut, just to save a few bob during the West Coast Main Line upgrade.
Beeching's inspection teams were famous for measuring ticket sales only on a Sunday, then simply multiplying that number by seven to give a quieter weekly figure. On the Carlisle-Edinburgh Borders line, ticket sales were in reality six times greater than the numbers stated. Some trimming was needed, but several strategic routes were shut that we badly need today.
Perhaps what should have happened is that rail travel should have been recognised as a service, not a business, and good stewardship should have been put in place to minimise costs and maximise efficiency.
One of the problems today is that Beeching cut alternate routes, so that if a train breaks down, all the trains behind get held up.
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