26 November 2004
Local authorities are being asked to help market under-used rail lines in an effort to stop them closing.
Seven rural lines are to form part of a pilot scheme to reduce losses, according to the Community Rail Development Strategy, published by the Strategic Rail Authority this week.
A community partnership, initiated in 1996, has helped double patronage on the Bittern Line between Norwich and Sheringham in Norfolk.
The pilot seeks to extend that method amid fears of a Beeching-style purge of rural rail lines.
'We can't carry fresh air around the country,' said transport secretary Alistair Darling. 'We've got to be hard-headed about this.'