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Railwatch 070 - December 1996

A scar across England

Ancient woodlands, six areas of outstanding natural beauty and more than 20 sites of special scientific interest are threatened by major road schemes along the South Coast. These construction projects and other road improvements stretch from Honiton, Devon, to Folkestone, Kent, in what threatens to be a 230-mile superhighway.

But rail, bus, cycle and pedestrian initiatives offer a sensible alternative to environmental destruction and increased pollution, says a new report Travelling Light, published by South Coast Against Roadbuilding. SCAR, whose membership includes more than 40 local organisations, including RDS, Friends of the Earth, Alarm UK, Wildlife Trusts and Transport 2000, will be lobbying local councils and other key decision makers.

Travelling Light calls for Ashford-Hastings electrification, restoration of the Willingdon Chord linking Polegate & Pevensey, reopening Uckfield-Lewes, improvements at Brighton station to allow more trains to travel along the coast, easing curves between Southampton and Portsmouth, restoring double track throughout the Exeter-Salisbury route, reinstating the Yeovil Chord linking Pen Mill and Junction stations, new rolling stock on many routes, improved access for pedestrians and cycles, and good rail-bus links.

"Local authorities and senior politicians should take heed of this important document," said Nick Farthing of RDS Wessex. "It offers a realistic way of preserving the environment along the south coast."

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