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Our Railroad Story in the UK

by Tony Haslam
February 15, 2013

Hollistonians may be interested in my report on British railway tracks falling into disrepair.



Way back in the 60's, March, 1963, to be exact, the British Railway Company (founded and funded by the British Government) amalgamated all the various railway companies covering the whole of the British Isles into one company. It was found to be losing £163M every year.


 
The Chairman of British Rail, a Dr Beeching was instructed to cut these losses which resulted in massive cuts right across the country ie, 2,128 stations were closed with a loss of over 67,000 jobs and many thousands of miles of track removed and sold as scrap to recoup losses. As a result these rail roads were left to decay and return to their wild state. Some survived, mainly those where some tracks were never removed and where purchased by railway enthusiasts, repaired and re-opened by volunteers to the public mainly in the summer which I'm pleased to report are returning profits. These savings are being re-invested into repairs of tracks and improving facilities.


 
However may others are being given a new life as public nature walks, cycle tracks and even omnibus routes. Such a track has been revived here in Chester, my home town and I'm pleased to say very successfully. I use it often to walk into Chester City as it is very direct with being rather straight. A walk which normally took 45 minutes via road now takes just 30 minutes, no stopping at road junctions, no waiting for traffic to pass, perfect. However there are other distractions: wild flowers, bees, wasps, dogs, cats, birds, butterflies, squirrels, mice, hedgehogs and others (humans: walking, cycling, running and the occasional horse to name a few).

On my particular stretch we have wood carvings on the tree trunks that were cut down to allow light in to encourage other growths.


 
I'm looking forward to walking the Holliston Rail Trail one day soon.
 
Tony Haslam,
Your UK Correspondent!

 

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Comments (6)

I loved the photos and the article of your rail trail in Chester. The wood carvings and art along the way are interesting features. I, too, thought I was looking at a picture of the Holliston trail and bridge until I saw the staircase down to the trail. It and the guide post are beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

- Mary Curran | 2/18/13 12:09 PM

Thank you for your nice comments. Some of the carvings were cut down and removed over night but our artists very kindly returned and re carved some more. We hope the culprits don't return. Such carvings demand rediculous prices over here so fingers crossed!

- tony Haslam | 2/18/13 7:47 AM

Tony, Thank you for the great photos and ideas for the rail trail. We have lots of logs left over from Irene and the October snowstorm and 6.7 miles of trail. We could keep Jesse busy for years. Last summer I saw a human sized chess set with 4-foot height carved chess pieces. Perhaps that could be a whimsical display at Blair Square.

- Robert Weidknecht | 2/16/13 12:42 PM

The wood carvings are beautiful. It would be wonderful to have something like that on the Holliston Rail Trail. Just thinking that maybe a photo scavenger hunt to find different landmarks, train markers, etc along the trail would be fun and maybe a fundraising event?

- kris heavner | 2/15/13 12:37 PM

Without the staircase the photo on the cover of this story could almost match as a duplicate of a scene here in town of the Highland Street Railroad bridge looking down the rail bed from the former site of Axton Cross

- Bobby Blair | 2/15/13 11:17 AM

What a great idea. Works of art along the rail trail.

- pub | 2/15/13 7:20 AM

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