Light railway system for Bedfordshire?

At the first annual meeting of the recently incorporated Luton Chamber of Commerce held in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall on Friday, April 25th, 1919, Mr C. H. Osborne gave the first intimation of a scheme for a light railway from Luton to Bedford, by way of Barton and Silsoe.

The Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph reported Mr Osborne said the Government proposed to put down several light railways, using the material brought back from France, with a view to encouraging agriculture and the distribution of agricultural produce throughout the country.

Some time ago local schemes were asked for and, as the local representative on the Road Transport Authority, he put forward a scheme for a light railway between Bedford and Luton, through Silsoe and Barton. A preliminary inquiry under Government auspices was to be held.

Another suggested scheme was in the Leighton Buzzard area for the development of land that would lend itself to intensive culture, and a similar line between Shefford and Bedford had been suggested.

The scheme that would have most local interest was the suggested one from Luton to Bedford, linking up Bart, Silsoe and other villages which were then between the Midland and Great Northern railway lines.

However, at an informal inquiry held at Bedford on April 26, the general concensus was that a light railway was impractical. Objections to it were that there would be heavy expenditure in laying it; that traffic would have to be transhipped, as the use of a narrow gauge would prevent produce being loaded and sent to its destination; and that it would still leave those who were not actually on the route at a disadvantage.

Some of the farmers thought a railway would be a good thing if broad gauge was adopted, so that heavy goods could be sent away direct, and coal, manures etc brought right out into the country districts without being handled at Luton or Bedford.

On the other hand, lorries would be able to go right to farmers and pick up and set down on the spot. That would also avoid a heavy capital expenditure for the construction of a railway.

Government officials present at the inquiry would present a report later.