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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 07:14 GMT 08:14 UK
Cliff railway under threat
Babbacombe Cliff Railway
The cliff railway started operating at Oddicombe in 1926
A historic attraction in the South West could close because it requires expensive repair work.

Babbacombe Cliff Railway is one of Torquay's most popular attractions and carries more than 250,000 passengers a year.

But it is nearly 80 years old and parts of it need replacing.

Independent experts have examined the railway and say 500,000 needs to be spent in the next five years to secure its long-term future.

Torbay councillors will decide at a meeting next week what action to take.

Oddicombe Beach
Oddicombe Beach is a popular visitor attraction

Their options include closing the railway, repairing it at a huge cost or leasing it to a private firm.

The electric-powered railway provides an essential link to reach Oddicombe Beach.

But for the last two years it has had to be closed for part of the summer due to mechanical failure.

The future of the beach is also uncertain as the cliffs above it are crumbling away.

Neighbouring Redgate Beach was closed a few years ago because falling rocks made it dangerous.

Now the council is assessing whether it will shore up the Oddicombe cliffs, but that will mean another huge bill.

Oddicombe cliffs
The cliffs above Oddicombe Beach are crumbling away

Council leader Chris Harris said they did not want to see the railway disappear.

"Access to Oddicombe Beach is currently being reviewed by the council," he said.

"It's a fantastic beach and is used by families and elderly people alike, so the access to that is key.

"We have to bear in mind that, during the past summer when we have had problems with the railway, the council put on minibuses to help people maintain that access."

The railway started operating in 1926, but was closed during World War II for security reasons.

It was refurbished and re-opened in 1951, and in 1993, 60,000 was spent replacing the track.


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