We really can't be so out of touch
A BROKEN down truck, a burst tyre or even a stray herd of cows would be enough to effectively sever transport links between Plymouth and London.
The landslips and floods triggered by the torrential rain of last weekend have caused havoc on our railway line with trains initially unable to run between Exeter and Tiverton and then a stretch between Exeter and Newton Abbot was swallowed up by landslips.
Our air link was broken by a storm of a different kind almost a year ago.
And that has left this great city - for the past week at least – relying in the A38 for any semblance of a speedy route to all points east, and we all know how that road can be brought to a standstill by even the most minor incident.
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And there you have it, a major British city effectively cut off from the rest of the world by a traffic jam. It would be laughable if it were not so very serious for us all.
It is hard to imagine this situation being tolerated anywhere else - still less in any other part of the country which plays such an important role in the defence of the realm.
More remarkable still is how this issue has been allowed to fester for decades both locally and nationally. Today, we report on one proposal to redirect the rail line to divert it away from the vulnerable sea wall route at Dawlish. It is a plan that was drawn up before the Second World War and we are still talking about it as a mere possibility more than 60 years on.
Plymouth has so many strengths and so much to offer but it is high time we faced up to one of our greatest weaknesses – our transport links.
Our prosperity depends on fast, resilient links to the rest of the nation.
This is a longstanding problem which the loss of the airport and the recent extreme weather have brought to the fore. The Herald is glad to see our politicians teaming up to demand action – it can only be hoped their enthusiasm for the subject continues after the current problems subside.
There is no quick fix and there is nothing to be gained by lamenting the things we have not done in the past. It is crucial that we find a practical solution to this slow-moving crisis before we cut ourselves off from our own future.