RAILWAYS: Losing the last remnants

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At various points on the road network of north Northumberland it is possible to see the sandstone abutments of the bridges of the Alnwick to Coldstream and Berwick to Carham railways.

The railways were constructed in the 1840s and decommissioned in the 1960s. Their right of way was then fragmented and sold off.

This failure to retain the rights of way in public ownership prevented their development for recreational purposes, such as footpaths, linear woods, bridle paths or cycle paths, or the reopening of the railways at a later date.

Demonstrating a similar lack of vision, the Government, through the agency of Highways England, is planning to demolish the railway abutments adjacent to public roads.

If this plan is executed, the last publicly accessible remnants of the north Northumberland railway lines of the early Victorian age will be gone.

The reason for the demolition is the view that the abutments present a risk, which can be eliminated by their demolition.

There is a well-established method of performing risk analysis that allows a comparison to be made between the product of the statistical probability of the risk materialising, the financial consequences and the cost of eliminating the risk.

Such an analysis appears not to have been performed by, or on behalf of, Highways England.

Planning applications have already been made for demolition.

Readers who have an interest in the prudent use of the taxes levied on them, or who have some regard for the industrial heritage of Northumberland, may wish to register their objections with their parish councils, county councillors and with the planning authority.

Richard Harrison

Berwick-upon-Tweed