New route for railway proposed

By Jenni DixonA NEW route for the proposed Southwold to Halesworth railway has been put forward following protests about the line running through a wildlife area.

By Jenni Dixon

A NEW route for the proposed Southwold to Halesworth railway has been put forward following protests about the line running through a wildlife area.

Southwold town councillor John Goldsmith has criticised the authority for voting too early against the £6.5million project.

He has suggested a new route that skirts the edge of the Reydon hen reedbeds instead of one that goes through the area - which is a home to bitterns, marsh harriers, bearded tits and other rare birds.

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A new map has now been published by John Bennett, chairman of the Southwold Railway Society, who wanted to clear up some misunderstandings about the proposed route of the railway eastwards from Blythburgh.

He said: “It shows the route from Blythburgh to Quay Lane, Reydon. At 'A' there would be a bridge over the River Blyth almost adjacent to the road bridge.

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“At 'B' the road would pass under the A145 some halfway up the hill and through the triangle of Spring Hill under the A12 itself, at 'C'.

“By crossing at these points, it is possible to keep the formation of the railway above flood level. The route would cross Wolsey's Creek and the Hen Reedbeds between 'D' and 'E'.

“The Reedbed crossing would be limited to 220m and is very near one end of the extensive Reedbeds and in an area of least value to wildlife.”

Mr Goldsmith, who is also a member of Waveney District Council and Suffolk County Council, visited the Reedbeds and has put forward a new route from 'D' which runs around the edge of the Reedbeds and passes through meadows, labelled 'F'.

Mr Bennett said: “The actual crossing length would be longer, 270m, but would not isolate any section of the Reedbeds from any other.

“However, it is worth noting also that a rather more disruptive main road already divides the Reedbeds at Wolsey Bridge.”

He also felt running the line closer to the A1095 between points 'C' and 'D' was an improvement on the published route.

Mr Goldsmith said: “Southwold Town Council has discussed this idea much too early, voting negatively before studying the full facts and being influenced unduly by a vociferous minority, including people who do not actually live in the area.

“I feel this is a matter for the whole electorate of the Blyth Valley - not just Southwold.”

Geoffrey Munn, one of the main protesters against the railway project, said he could not comment fully on the new route until he had seen the map, but did not think a slight adjustment would make the scheme any better.

No-one at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, which looks after the reedbeds and has come out against the first proposed route, was available for comment on the new plan.

Meanwhile, there is still time to vote in the East Anglian Daily Times ballot on the proposal by Southwold Railway Society to link Halesworth and Southwold with an 8.5-mile narrow gauge line.

Completed EADT ballot papers can be handed in at: Purdys Newsagents, High Street, Southwold; Reydon Post Office; Patricks Newsagents, Market Place, Halesworth; or EADT editorial office, 25 Market Place, Halesworth.

Alternatively, completed ballot papers can be sent to Southwold Railway Ballot, EADT Newsdesk, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

Photocopies of the EADT's voting forms will be accepted, as long as they are individually signed.

The results of the survey will be passed on to Southwold Railway Society, Southwold Town Council and Halesworth Town Council.

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