Rail plan is like

By David GreenA PLAN to revive the rail link between two towns has been criticised as owing more to DisneyWorld or Alton Towers than an attempt to introduce a sustainable form of transport.

By David Green

A PLAN to revive the rail link between two towns has been criticised as owing more to DisneyWorld or Alton Towers than an attempt to introduce a sustainable form of transport.

Derek Moore, who left the Suffolk Wildlife Trust to take up a national conservation job, said Southwold Railway Society's proposal to take the narrow gauge railway across the Hen Reedbed, near Southwold, to the north of the Blyth Estuary was “not an option”.

Allowing the railway to cross the reedbed would be contrary to the trust's charitable aims and the nature reserve had to remain “sacrosanct”, he claimed.


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Mr Moore, one of the architects of the Hen Reedbed creation project, called for a revised route on the south side of the Blyth Estuary to be considered and for a full environmental impact assessment.

“There is more than a hint of DisneyWorld or Alton Towers about their ideas. If they cared about the real issues the proposed train would not be a steam engine, but a form of quiet, modern technology,” he said.

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“I had wrongly assumed that any proposal to reconstitute the railway route would follow the old line on the south side of the Blyth, stopping at Walberswick and terminating at Southwold.

“With current designations on this land that would be bad enough, but I could not believe my eyes when I saw the proposed route - on the north side of the Blyth and through the Hen Reedbed.”

Mr Moore, former director of conservation for the national Wildlife Trusts and now chief executive of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, urged the railway society to avoid over-optimistic user forecasts for the proposed line because it would be dreadful to “defile” the countryside for a scheme that ended in bankruptcy.

John Bennett, chairman of the Southwold Railway Society, stressed the route of the proposed line was up for discussion.

But he added: “The whole thing about likening the heritage line to a theme park is nonsense.”

Meanwhile, readers wanting to have their say on the possible revival of the Southwold to Halesworth Railway link have just a few days to cast their vote in the East Anglian Daily Times' ballot.

More than 1,000 readers have so far taken part the poll that is being kept open until Thursday to give as many people as possible a chance to vote on the £6.5m scheme proposed by Southwold Railway Society.

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

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

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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