Villagers join forces to oppose railway

MORE than 300 readers have already cast their vote on the possible revival of the Southwold Railway - but there is still time for you to have your say on the issue.

MORE than 300 readers have already cast their vote on the possible revival of the Southwold Railway - but there is still time for you to have your say on the issue.

Meanwhile, people living in Blythburgh have formed an action group to protest about the possible revival of the Halesworth to Southwold rail line.

Under proposals announced by the Southwold Railway Society, the 8.5mile narrow gauge line would recreate the track that linked the two north Suffolk towns from 1879 to 1929.

The heritage steam railway would largely follow the original route from Halesworth to Blythburgh but would then carry on to Southwold in a different direction, crossing the River Blyth beside the present A12 road bridge, before tunnelling under the A145 and A12.

The route to Southwold would then pass through Reydon Marshes and include a level crossing at Mights Bridge, on the only road in and out of the seaside town.

It is this new section of the track that has caused so much concern to many people who have fears on traffic and environmental grounds.

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Those living in Blythburgh have been upset at not being consulted further by members of the railway society and there are many in the village who fear that the proposed rail line will have an adverse impact on the local environment.

More than 30 residents invited the EADT to the village yesterday so that they could explain their worries.

Only two people said they were in favour of the rail line going ahead while all the other residents said they were opposed to the track altogether.

Paul Bennett, chairman of the group, said: “Villagers are very worried about the impact the proposed park and ride facility close to the Wenhaston turn-off will have.

“There are also serious worries about the oil depot and the fact that the line will pass so close to Holy Trinity Church, one of the most impressive religious buildings in the region.”

Villager Caroline Troughton said she was concerned about the increased risk of accidents close to the proposed park and ride centre, as the Wenhaston junction on the A12 is already an accident blackspot.

“I am afraid there are accidents or near misses at this junction on such a regular basis,” she added.

“The area of the proposed park and ride centre is also liable to flood so I think it just would not work.”

Other villagers said the area of the proposed railway line was a popular location with walkers, bird watchers and other nature lovers.

“It is a lovely tranquil area of Suffolk countryside with a lot of people enjoying the footpaths and riverside walks.

“We should do all we can to keep it that way,” said Henrietta Maslen.

Blythburgh poet Richard Maslen also believes that the environment around the village is special and should be left untouched.

“Only someone totally impervious to this special, mystical place could have dreamed up this idea.

“It is an idyll of the last century that cannot be recreated,” he said.

The EADT is giving local residents the opportunity of having their say on the issue that has so divided public opinion.

Readers in the Blyth Valley have had the opportunity of giving their opinion in the special coupons being printed in the EADT.

The coupons can then be posted in the special ballot boxes at Purdys Newsagents, High Street, Southwold; Reydon Post Office; Patrick's Newsagents, Market Place, Halesworth; or the EADT Editorial Office, Market Place, Halesworth.

Alternatively coupons can be posted to: EADT Newsdesk, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

*Editor's note: Only genuine coupons cut from the EADT will be included in the survey. Photocopied coupons will not be accepted.

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