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The Future of Seaside Towns Report

4 April 2019

Review of House of Lords report on ‘The Future of Seaside Towns’ published 4 April 2019.

A note by Lord Shutt of Greetland (edited for these minutes). Bude is mentioned in the 100+ page report as follows:

“The Beeching era cuts often left coastal communities well beyond the ‘end of the line’. There are several plans to redress the damage of the Beeching report of 57 years ago. Some restorations of rail links have occurred, but these have been of little benefit to seaside towns.One of the most significant rail restorations was the partial re-opening of the Borders line in Scotland. An early Beeching era closure - after much campaigning, the line from Edinburgh to Galashiels and Tweedbank was reopened in September 2015. It was envisaged that it would have a ridership of 650,000. However, the actual numbers achieved were 1.3 million. Subsequent years have seen further increases to 1.37 million and 1.45 million.

There is only one railway line connecting Cornwall to the rest of the UK. That is the line from Exeter to Plymouth and Penzance via Dawlish and Newton Abbott. Concerns have been expressed about the resilience of the line since it opened in 1846. The effects of extreme weather are causing significant problems, and part of the tracks have been engulfed by the sea at Dawlish. Over the 2018-19 winter alone, the line was disrupted on ten occasions.

It is increasingly clear that there should be an alternative route to Plymouth and Cornwall. The route from Exeter via Okehampton to Plymouth is the obvious solution, especially given that there are now plans to operate a service on the route from Exeter to Oakhampton and also from Plymouth to Tavistock. The gap from Tavistock to the Meldon railhead to the west of Okehampton is only 15 miles. Closing that gap would mean that the North Cornwall coast would benefit from nearer rail access and ultimately give towns such as Bude some hope that they could be embraced in the rail network. The coastal town of Bude is further away from a railway station than any other in England.”

RWB has contacted Lord Shutt to thank him for drawing attention to the lack of rail connectivity in Bude and also to invite him to attend CB’s AGM on 19 Oct 2019. Response awaited.