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From the 'Suffolk Free Press' of Wednesday 10 April 1963
ACTION COMMITTEE FOR STOUR
INDIVIUAL OBJECTIONS TO THE BEECHING PLAN HAVE BEEN STEADILY REACHING THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND THE DOCTOR, BUT AS YET THERE HAVE BEEN NO ATTEMPTS TO FORM A LOCAL ACTION COMMITTEE.
With admirable foresight, the Braintree and Witham Railway Campaign Committee was formed some three months ago in order to fight a possible closure of that line.
Too many people in the Stour Valley thought the axe would never be put to their rail service, so a society of this sort has not yet come into existence here.
For those who want to tear the Stour Valley page from the Dr Beeching's 'Doomsday Book', as it has been so aptly described, now is the time to set up an organisation designed to go into combat as soon as the opposing artillery is drawn up.
The threat to our railway is a means to forging a new link between the neighbouring towns of Haverhill and Sudbury. Many are already hoping that some anti-Beeching committee can be formed - and we must first look to our councils.
West Suffolk County Planning Officer, Mr J. M. Gorst, was due to meet British Railways Cambridge Area Manager, Mr W. A. G. Suddaby, yesterday. Not until Mr Gorst has made his report can the county council decide on their railway policy.
From comments made to the Free Press by Mr Suddaby, it seems that British Railways will offer no direct help (nor hindrance, we hope) to any opposition organisation, but such a body, with a wide enough scope, could have plenty of free agents - spies if you like - who could collect an enormous amount of information.
One only has to look at the results of the Braintree committee to see what can be done.
It should be remembered that British Railways have refused to give any local traffic figures or profit (or loss) margins. In addition, it is understood, the figures that they produce before the Transport Users Consultative Committee will not be open for cross-examination.
The Braintree - Witham Railway Committee are satisfied that their efforts have already begun to show favourable results, both in freight and passenger traffic.
This has been the main conclusion of their first interim progress report, published last week. This report deals fully with many aspects of the running and management of the line and offers numbers of constructive criticism.
Mr T. E. Bunn, the committee's chairman, commented that the Braintree line was in a very much stronger position than the majority of lines and stations listed for possible closure as the receipts substantially covered the running expenses of operating the line.
There is a strong assumption that this is equally true of the Stour Valley line, but British Railways, who will publish no figures, give no one the chance to find out.
Halstead Rural Council's attitude so far has been disappointing. To villages in the northern part of their district, the Stour Valley line is the only rail link, yet that council apparently intends to take no action.
This must prove a particular disappointment to Sudbury Borough Council who joined in the unfortunately unsuccessful fight to keep open Halstead's Colne Valley passenger line.