A small section of the Luton-Dunstable rail line was ripped up on Tuesday 13 March 2001 to make sure that trains cannot run.

Rail Property Ltd which owns the closed but intact line was condemned for its "wrecking" tactics in ordering the action.

There has been a long-standing campaign by local action group ADAPT to get the line reopened for both freight and passenger use but Luton Borough Council has been trying to promote a guided busway on the line in spite of local opposition.

ADAPT was hoping that a heritage service could be introduced on a short half-mile long section of the line until the Strategic Rail Authority wakes up to its responsibilities to put Dunstable back on the rail map by reopening the five-mile line and reconnecting it to the main network at Luton.

More than two thirds of local people have said in a poll that this is the best course of action. Both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives believe this is the best plan. Ironically the road-obsessed local Labour party cannot drag itself into the modern era of integrated transport.

"We are winning the argument," said a spokesman for ADAPT "and that seems to make certain people angry with us."

Rail Property says it was "forced" to take action because there had been unauthorised use of a locomotive on the line and it was worried about the safety implications if the loco was taken over a bridge.

ADAPT says the loco was being used to tidy up the line, in preparation for the heritage service. They say the loco would not have been taken over the bridge and that, even if Rail Property was not happy with that assurance, it could have used other ways to prevent the loco being moved which would not have damaged the infrastructure.

The dead-end plan to convert the line to a busway should be dropped and one of six rail options should be chosen:

1. To reopen and electrify so that a Dunstable service could be integrated into the Thameslink 2000 franchise with through trains from Dunstable to London and beyond.

2. To reopen to provide access for freight trains and occasional passenger trains, until a long-term policy can be drawn up.

3. Reopen the line and operate a simple diesel shuttle service until the line can be reconnected to the network.

4. Reopen the line as a heritage railway until plans for a public train service can be implemented.

5. Reopen the line but operate it as a light railway, separated from the national rail network like the Croydon tramlink system, but with integrated timetabling to allow for good connections with the electric train service at Luton.

6. Reopen the line, extend to Leighton Buzzard, electrify the complete line so through trains could run between the Midland main line and the West Coast main line.

Both Rail Property Ltd and the Strategic Rail Authority should be working in concert to ensure that a funding package is put together so the rail network can be expanded. The railway is already there. Let's use it!