Updated: Feb 10, 2021
According to a report in the Bridport & Lyme Regis News, a plan to resurrect a railway in Bridport has sparked debate across the town – and the group behind the project are thrilled with the feedback so far. As reported in the Bridport News, a group has put forward an idea for a sustainable rail link involving a 'tram-like' train running along the route of the old West Bay to Maiden Newton branch.
The people behind the Bridport Branch Renewal Corridor scheme believe it should be considered in discussions about future transport solutions. The project is still very much in its infancy and the group is seeking £50,000 so they can undertake a full feasibility study. Organisers have said that they are 'thankful' for the feedback, and that the public response to the plans has been 'generally positive'. Michael Hancock, one of the founding members of the group behind the project, said: "We have truly been amazed at the feedback we have received since the publication of the article in the Bridport News. We are hoping people will continue to connect with us and share their ideas and views. Around 80% of the feedback we have received has been generally positive, 10% are raving fans and 10% think we're in cloud cuckoo land. We are very thankful for the responses across the spectrum and the insights we are gaining from the community. Our new Facebook group 'Bridport Renewal Corridor Conversation & Ideas' has grown from nothing to 50 members in the last week with new members joining each day." He added: "The community is important to us. There are going to be many challenges for us to face but we are encouraged by the response so far." Mr Hancock said that the group is beginning to see local businesses coming forward to support the light railway. The group's plan moving forward is to have detailed discussions with Dorset Council, Bridport Town Council and others and to continue to engage with the public. The more positive responses to the story on Bridport News' Facebook page proclaimed that it was a 'lovely idea' and that 'it could work if done right'. Another said 'it would be nice to get a train system in, whatever the method' but others said the project 'would be a waste of money' and 'is not needed'. One reader wrote that 'no one will put money into a scheme that has no chance of ever happening. For the last 40 years, there has been talk of reopening the line and some will talk for the next 40'. One quipped 'April Fool's Day has arrived early'. Bridport town councillor David Rickard told the News: "We will be engaging with the organisers at some stage. It will be interesting to see how the plans turn out, there would of course be pros and cons to it like there is with all projects. Most people are aware that it won't be an easy thing to achieve - there's a storied history of people wanting to rebuild the railway, after all. We're interested to find out more about it but it could be some time before we come to any real conclusions."