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18:00 - 01
|The former rail line from Portishead to
Bristol could be used by cars if an innovative scheme being
unveiled today takes off.|
world's first rubber highway, made from recycled tyres, was
due to be opened on a private branch line into a car depot at
But rail enthusiasts
campaigning to reopen the Portishead line believe it would be
a recipe for disaster to install something similar in
The group behind the government-funded
project, Holdfast Rubber Highways, proposes to install the
same rubber surface on scores of lines shut in the Beeching
cuts of the 1960s.
The rubber roads are designed to
allow cars and light rail to use the same transport corridor
to solve traffic problems.
And it has emerged that the
Portishead to Bristol line is on a list drawn up by Holdfast
of the strongest candidates for rubber
Portishead Railway Group chairman Alan
Matthews said: "Where the abandoned line is double track, it
could be possible for it to be used for cars and light rail.
But I would suggest it would be dangerous.
Continent, Ireland and UK, where light rail is used, the light
rail runs parallel with the road and the only dual use is for
short sections or crossings.
"The idea is to provide a
separate fast public transport system.
"Once cars start
to use track we end up with the same situation as in Bristol,
where the buses are held up because they are using the same
space as cars.
"The system cannot work on the
Portishead line because it is mainly single track and through
"We are sure that Network Rail would also not
consider it as an option as part of the line is used for
"Again we have a situation where someone's
bright idea is being discussed and proposed without any
serious consideration of whether it is actually
Holdfast managing director Peter Coates
Smith said: "Rather than have an endless debate about whether
we should be investing in road or rail, we can allow these
trains and cars to use the same corridor."
other routes around Bristol are also being considered for the
rubber highways, plus lines in east London, Dagenham and
Each mile of rubber highway uses 354,000
tyres, which will help with disposing of the 50 million worn
tyres removed from vehicles each year and which, under EU
rules, will be banned from landfill sites.
£1.4 million per mile, compared with £20 million for a new
The track panels can be installed at a rate of
100 metres per day and should last at least 25
The Corby line is a quarter of a mile long and
has had its durability tested by 8,000 cars running on
Corby suffers many of the same traffic problems as
It is a rapidly growing town with
inadequate road infrastructure and is the largest town in
Europe without a railway service.