The right track

Buses have failed as an adequate substitute for past rail closures which have therefore contributed to a massive and unhealthy increase in car use, and a culture of car dependency, particularly for commuting.

We clearly need to restore our closed railways and the happy situation of everyone being within easy reach of a service, including local freight facilities. This is becoming increasingly imperative with global warming and ‘peak oil.’

Regrettably the obstructions on many old lines makes reopening in conventional form problematical. However, most routes are clear for most of their length, and if the Victorians could build them from scratch I’m sure our modern engineers would be able to restore them at considerably less cost than road building without wrecking the countryside.

Light rail technology can be adopted on many lines, (such as in and around Croydon). Trams can run at speed along the former track bed where unobstructed. Local and feeder freight traffic can also be carried.

With peak oil drastically curtailing motor traffic, rail and tram systems can be extended by new roadside light railways, taking space from the road for a reserved right-of-way rather than encroaching on the countryside.

This would leave a narrower width for the small amount of light local use (principally pedestrians, cyclists and horse traffic) which will continue in much greater safety on the roads.

As motorways will be redundant their routes can be adapted for new high-speed railways, taking advantage of the width to ease curves and gradients with the spare land used for agriculture or returned to nature.

Jonathan Dalton


East Sussex