FUTURE OF RAIL TRANSPORT
Unfortunately, England’s highest main-line railway station hangs on to life by a thread. Deserted and unmanned since it was officially closed in 1970, Dent, situated high in the hills of Yorkshire, wakes up on six summer weekends each year, when a special charter train unloads walkers, sightseers and people who simply want to catch a train from the highest station, onto its platforms. However, even this limited existence may soon be brought to an end.
Dent station, situated on the Carlisle railway line, is said to be the most scenic in the country, but no amount of scenic beauty can save the line from British Rail’s financial problems. This year, for the sake of economy, the express trains which used to pass through Dent station have been put onto another route. It is now an open secret that British Rail sees no future for this railway line. Most of its trains disappeared some time ago.
The stations on it, besides its bridge, built on a grand scale a century ago, are falling down. It is not alone. Half a dozen railway routes in the north of England are facing a similar threat. The problem is a worn out system and an almost total lack of means to repair it. Bridges and tunnels are showing their age, the wooden supports for the tracks are rotting and engines and coaches are getting old. On major lines between large cities, there is no problem.
These lines still make a profit and money can be found to maintain them, but on the country branch line the story is rather sad. As a track wears out, it is not replaced. Instead, speed limits are introduced, making journeys longer than necessary and discouraging customers who live in the country and who travel only from time to time.
If a bridge is dangerous, there is often only one thing for British Rail to do: go out and find money from another source. This is exactly what it did a few months ago, when a bridge at Bridlington station was threatening to fall down. Repairs were estimated at £200,000 and British Rail was delighted, and rather surprised, when the local authorities of two nearby towns offered half that amount between them. This was a good solution, which the British Rail can always make use of.
Mark the best choice.
1. Since 1970, Dent station .
a) has been used only for a part of the year
b) has had no express trains passing through
c) has been visited by hill walkers only
d) has not been used at all