The better way south west
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The better way south west
Back in 1964 when duplicated lines were under the microscope it was reasonable that the three routes to Plymouth should be considered. By three, I mean via Bristol, via Newbury and via Salisbury. It had been intended to close the Salisbury to Exeter route in favour of the ex-GWR one through Newbury; however downgrading and singling of the Southern route was settled upon. With a similar mind-set to that which motivates the HS2 protagonists today, it must have seemed better to chose the Newbury route as the fastest intercity route between the two cities. Little or no thought being given to the conurbations each line served. In population terms the GWR route passed largely through empty countryside so en-route stations were not needed and most trains would be non-stop. But look at what we abandoned - thousands of potential passengers from populated areas alond the whole SR route. What madness; how could we impose fast trains on a countryside's people yet deny those same people any chance to catch such trains without being able (or willing) to drive many miles to a railhead. HS2 beware - the same is being tried today!
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