Beeching's real legacy is gridlock and poor air quality
FIFTY years ago, Dr Richard Beeching, chairman of the newly formed British Railways Board, was working on plans for radical changes to the rail network.
In March 1963 he made them public. They included proposals to close a third of the network. It was an earthquake whose aftershocks are still felt to this day.
The railway network he took over had a poor public image. And cars offered a flexibility that the railways could not match.
The transport secretary at the time, Ernest Marples, and minister John Hay both wanted the railways drastically pruned.
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They argued that rather than spending money on the railways it should be used for roads and motorway construction.
I can see the legacy of these decisions in today's transport system of Greater Bristol.
On a daily basis I witness really bad traffic problems. I live just off Broadwalk Road in Knowle Park which is near the Wells Road.
Lately, with the heavy rain, I have been taking my grandson and granddaughter to school.
The local road network is gridlocked on the Wells Road, West Town Lane, Callington Road, Sturminster Road, Hungerford Road and Bath Road. I am glad they walk a lot because it is healthy for them but I am concerned about the amount of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere.
What really annoys me is that I can still see remains of the Bristol and North Somerset railway nearby.
The line ran under bridge at the foot of Talbot Road to Brislington station.
On West Town Lane I can still see the retaining wall of the railway bridge that covered the main road.
Further up is the site of Whitchurch Halt. And on the way out of Bristol I can see where railway bridges used to criss-cross the Wells Road.
Further out, Pensford had its own railway station and Pensford railway viaduct with its impressive arches still remains.
The point I am trying to make is how short-sighted it was to close these stations and station yards, bulldoze station buildings, rip up track and demolish railway bridges.
Whatever possessed them? To me it was vandalism on a massive scale.
Today we have the road network coming in on the A37, crawling at a snail's pace and doing untold damage to the environment and atmosphere.
That is the real legacy of Dr Beeching.