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Plans to open up Marlborough’s old rail path to Swindon

Ambitious plans to open up for public use the old eight-mile Swindon to Marlborough railway line, which was closed to passenger trains 50 years ago this September, were outlined to Marlborough town council on Monday.

The nucleus of a new group of former members of the Marlborough Cycling Club have linked up with Sustrans, the leading charity that promotes travel by foot, bike and public transport, whose area manager, Alistair Millington, detailed their local proposals to councillors.

Sustrans has leased the route, once considered as a bypass for Marlborough, from Wiltshire Council and already cleared and sustained part of it for cyclists.

“But the route is there for all to enjoy, not only cyclists but walkers and horse riders,” he pointed out. “Some children even use it to walk to school or as an access to the Tesco supermarket.”

“And it is a great asset for tourism as a gateway to the downs.”

However, although a friends group of volunteers have improved sections, it was going to take the expenditure of tens of thousands of pounds to make the old railway pathway sustainable.

With this in mind, Sustrains is contemplating a bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery and is now seeking the support of other organisations, Marlborough town council in particular, to demonstrate the commitment of local people to the project.

“It will take many years,” added Mr Millington. “But we want to renew the lease for the path with Wiltshire at the end of the first 25 years and a modest contribution from the town council will show your commitment to what we want to do.”

“It will be a wonderful way to get to Swindon.”

Anyone interested in the project can contact Nick Stedman, a member of a Friends of the Path group about to be formed, on 01672 861658.

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