Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Rail enthusiasts in Topsham will celebrate on Monday the success of the Avocet Train line and ‘how badly wrong’ Dr Beeching was for wanting to close it 50 years ago.
In a case of ‘we told you so’ new figures show that the line, between Exmouth and Exeter, carried a record 1.4 million passengers last year, almost a 10 per cent increase.
But if it had not been for local campaigners, this modern-day success story may never have happened, as it had been targeted by Dr Beeching for closure.
The Beeching Report, published 50 years ago next month, led to the closure of many railway lines and the Exmouth line was only saved by people like those who are now members of ALRUG (The Avocet Line Rail Users Group).
And to celebrate the success of their forebears they are invited to a special event at the Globe Hotel in Topsham on this Monday .
Entitled Beeching – lessons 50 years on, well known railway writer Professor Paul Salveson will be guest speaker.
He will be introduced by Topsham resident Chris Austin, ALRUG member and chair of the Avocet Line Forum, who has recently co-authored a book Holding the Line - how Britain’s railways were saved.
Tony Day, chairman of the Avocet Line Rail Users Group (ALRUG) said: “We are delighted to welcome Paul Salveson to Topsham. As a rail users’ group it is important to see our line in the context of the wider network and its history. It may be 50 years since the Beeching Report led to the closure of many railway lines and stations, but there are still lessons to be learned today.”
He said that although the meeting is for ALRUG members, it will be possible to join on the door for just £5.
The journey figures, prepared for Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership by train operator First Great Western, show an increase during 2012 of 9.7 per cent, well above the national average and good even for the South West.
He added: “These figures…show clearly that our line is well used all through the year, not just in the height of summer.
“In fact, the busiest months were May and the period between mid October and mid December, when passenger numbers grew by more than 25 per cent in just a year. Even during the bad weather and Christmas period, numbers kept growing strongly. Overall the line is a third again better used than five years’ ago – which just goes to show how badly wrong Dr Beeching got it.”