Lord Adonis, former Secretary of State for Transport and also former head of the Infrastructure Commission, has called for railway lines that were closed or run down under Beeching to be reopened to serve local communities, and for new settlements to be constructed close to existing or mothballed railway lines.
Opening the recent conference ‘How Garden Cities Can become Connected Cities’ through a video link, Lord Adonis stated that there are 30 communities in England of over 25,000 people that don’t have easy access to the railway network, having lost their connection in the 1960s. He also expressed the view that everyone who lives in a sizeable community should be within walking distance of a railway station.
Specifically, he mentioned communities such as Washington, one of the original garden cities and which has a mothballed freight line running through it, Haverhill and Cirencester. He called for a systematic programme of “reverse Beeching” which could, in his view, “be funded by not proceeding with some of the less justifiable parts of the road programme”.
These ‘new’ lines could then be a focus for new housing developments – “They are very liveable places.”
He concluded: “It’s a new way of envisaging settlements. It’s green, it’s friendly, it doesn’t involve so much destruction. I think it’s the future.”
The conference ‘How Garden Cities Can become Connected Cities’ was organised by ConnectedCities, a non-partisan initiative which proposes a global sustainable development strategy that can sustainably accommodate all predicted population growth far into the future.