If I had £500 million

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

The announcement by the government that it would allot £500 million for rail expansion and improvement has been met with hope by local enthusiasts that they might get long-closed track relayed and re-opened and by sceptics that it is a drop in the ocean compared with what is needed.

poster for Borders railways
Borders Railway is the best example of benefits reopening a line can bring

Not wishing to look a gift horse in the mouth, for the tourist and visitor (as opposed to the commuter) there are some things that would help tourism no end and make it easier for people to visit parts of our countries that are really only viable if you travel by car.

Re-opening a line from Stranraer to Dumfries line so that trains could run on to Carlisle and thence to London would speed up journeys to catch the ferries to Ireland, improve the trade links with Ireland as well as increasing the likelihood not just of tourists from Ireland visiting the UK but vice-versa as well. And it would open up the Dumfries and Galloway area to more visitors just as the Borders Railway has done with Southern Scotland.

And talking of that line, extending the line from Tweedbank to Carlisle would ease pressure on the East and West Coast lines to Scotland.

There is already a railway line to Fishguard in Pembrokeshire to catch the ferries to Rosslare in Southern Ireland but it is slow from Neath onwards. Using the freight line and putting through trains from London to Fishguard instead of having to change and generally get on old clapped-out trains would speed a journey, and improve tourism links with Ireland.

This is the coastline near Fishgurad that could be opened up to more visitors if there were a better service linking England and Pembrokeshire

Completing a stretch of the line in North Wales from Caernarfon to Bangor would open up links from Mid Wales through Snowdonia to the north making it easier to travel there although, pretty as it is, the line from Machynlleth to Pwllheli isn’t the fastest in the world!

Improving journey times to South Devon and Cornwall could be achieved by re-opening the line through Okehampton from Exeter to Plymouth.

Re-opening the line from Harrogate to Northallerton through North Yorkshire would allow visitors to see spectacular scenery from the comfort of a train (that may not be the best phrase I could have used given the existing rail stock) whilst linking it to the main east coast line would speed up the time it would take visitors to get to this part of England.

But opening lines isn’t the only way of spending the money. On some scenic lines to encourage tourism, train companies could contract with local heritage lines and run steam or heritage lines at certain times to encourage visitors to fan out and see more of our countries. Why shouldn’t heritage lines work with rail franchisees?

the Dartmouth Steam Railway, acommercial rather than a volunteer railway which has a main line link at Paignton.

 Now if I only had the budget of HS2 to use…

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