Reopening Sidmouth station is a vision for a cleaner Devon, support jobs and boost economy
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For over fifty years, the railway route from Sidmouth Junction ( at Feniton ), through Ottery St Mary and Tipton St John to Sidmouth, has been closed and forgotten. The track was lifted, and only footpaths remain. The line closure was recommended as part of the infamous country-wide cost-saving scheme recommended by Dr Richard Beeching in 1965. The railway had opened in 1874, bringing more visitors to the area, to support the expanding hospitality trade, as well as goods services providing agricultural supplies, building materials, and coal both for domestic heating and for the local gas-works.
Sidmouth has been a popular seaside resort in East Devon for over two hundred years. Every year since 1955 the Sidmouth Folk Festival has attracted tens of thousands of international visitors and traditional music and dance lovers every year, contributing to traffic snarl-ups in and around the town in early August. The founding of the Festival was recognised by a commemorative blue plaque located at the open space called The Ham on BBC Music Day in 2017, a true symbol of our national heritage. Restoring the rail service would help to ease the unwelcome traffic congestion during the Festival.
There is no doubt that the local communities in Ottery St Mary, Sidmouth and neighbouring villages would benefit from a restored local train service. If the stations at Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth were re-opened, there would be an increase in demand from visitors and business investors, supporting jobs and businesses, encouraging new local investment, and boosting the economy of the area. There would be an extra bonus from the easing of road traffic congestion and a reduction of environmental pollution from carbon emissions by petrol and diesel emissions in the town centres. As a direct comparison, the recently re-opened Borders Railway line in Scotland has been linked with increased visitor numbers, while the construction phase supported extra jobs, and acted as a catalyst to increase business development with a doubling of new housing schemes throughout Midlothian.
Sidmouth has high air pollution, and according to a recent report of East Devon District Council about Air quality, the air quality in Sidmouth is getting worse, the pollution comes from diesel alone. Reopening a railway and reducing car exhaust could save thousands of lives. Reopening the Sidmouth railway will not only help to improve the environment and traffic congestion in the area, but also ensure that your children and grandchildren have fresh air to breathe.
Reopening the Sidmouth railway line offers a clear vision for a cleaner Devon, with the opportunity to improve the livelihood of East Devon. On a personal note, I currently run a nail-care salon in Honiton, and hope to expand to Sidmouth quite soon. As I do not drive, the restoration of a rail link from Honiton to Sidmouth would greatly assist my own business expansion plans.
Support for the restored railway line has already attracted over 300 supporters within serveral days, demonstrating that there is a genuine demand to improve transport links in the area.
Please help reopening Sidmouth station by signing my petition calling on our Prime Minister Theresa May and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to use their power to act and intervene.
I appeal to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to reopen Sidmouth station and Ottery St Mary station for future economic prosperity.
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