Railway plans face hostile reception

PLANS to build a £45 million rail link between Ripley and Derby were derided at a packed town council meeting on Tuesday night.

Desmond McKinley, managing director of CES Group Partnership, faced a hostile reception from nearly 90 townsfolk angry at the company’s plans to re-open line along Ripley’s Greenway, which was closed to passengers in the 1930s, and build new stations in Denby and Coxbench.

The plan was variously described as a “ridiculous and a madcap scheme” which “belongs in someone’s back bedroom with a Hornby railway set.”

Mr McKinley, who was finally forced to leave the town hall meeting after interruptions threatened to derail proceedings, told the council chamber: “I came here to listen to everybody’s views. We have had no opportunity to put our case.”

He promised a full public consultation in the near future, which would clarify the implications of the line and added: “Fuel costs are rising rapidly. We have information from central government that fuel for a lot of people will be unaffordable.”

Councillor Steve Freeborn said: “The statements made by CES are unrealistic and out of touch. To incorporate the Greenway into a railway would be dangerous and make walking unpleasant with trains whistling by at 70mph. It’s ridiculous and wrong.”

Members of the public had their say in a debate which nearly brought the meeting to a standstill.

Sylvia Beighton, 69, said: “This is a ridiculous and madcap scheme. It would upset the traffic. We have plenty of buses. We don’t need this.”

Francis Kenney, 68, a member of the Greenway committee, said: “When I first heard about it I thought, like John McEnroe, ‘You have got to be joking!’ It’s only a single track. If it happened it would be like a miniature railway.”

The council voted unanimously to oppose all attempts to incorporate the Greenway into a railway line.

But a statement on the CES website maintains there is no intention to scrap the Greenway and instead claims it will form an “integral part of the railway line and will in fact be enhanced.”

Cllr Elizabeth Bowley said: “This plan isn’t even embryonic yet and it would have an enormously long way to go and many hurdles to jump before it could happen. Please, at this stage, don’t worry about it.”

Cllr David Bowley described the plan as “an idea which belongs in someone’s back bedroom with a Hornby railway set.”

But Jill Mather, who attended the meeting with her son, said: “We got a piece of paper through the letterbox asking us to come out and fight it - but we’re all for it! The sooner the better!”