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GWSR - Cheltenham Spa and possible extensions

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by JMJR1000, May 11, 2012.

  1. class8mikado

    class8mikado Well-Known Member

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    Did he try and feed it to an owl ... ?
     
  2. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    A tad late there...

    Seeing as this thread's near the top again though, worth noting that whilst it hasn't been abandoned forever, the previously agreeable noises from the board towards extending further into Cheltenham after Broadway have gone away. I think this is sensible, as we want to be consolidating what we've got once we get to Broadway, Winchcombe yard is going to be redeveloped which will be the next big project.

    However I'd still be much more in favour of an extension into Cheltenham than Honeybourne, if it's deemed viable, as Honeybourne is just too far away. 5 miles and £12 million is an awful lot and I think would be unmanageable, certainly changing our railway out of all recognition. I certainly find it unlikely it will happen without some significant outside investment e.g. housing development, or NWR. Whereas going a mile or so further into Cheltenham will be less costly and easier to manage, and bring us closer to a major town, "The gateway to the Cotswolds".
     
  3. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Have you been in hibernation ? no it was far worse than that, ever tried to prise a terrified cat off an axminster carpet ?
     
  4. Kinghambranch

    Kinghambranch Well-Known Member

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    The time to extend into Cheltenham was in 1979 when the line was sold and when, in 1981, the GWSR purchased 18 miles of trackbed from a point south of Hunting Butts Tunnel to a point just north of Broadway Station - a very brave thing to do back then I might add. Whilst tremendous re-opening efforts by heritage railways have happened, any attempt to get back to somewhere in Cheltenham town that hasn't been infilled, built on or had its bridges replaced by non-railway structures is going to be difficult to say the least. There is also the local Chavasaurid population to contend with.

    In my view, long term, a link via Honeybourne is far more likely but agree its not going to happen without external financial assistance and, as you say, there is a carriage shed to build and other things to spend money on.
    "The Gateway to the Cotswolds" is a title used by Burford Oxon, rather than Cheltenham, but so is Cirencester!
     
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  5. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I've seen it used for Cheltenham too! The population is the issue, and yes you're right, it would have been much easier 30 years ago! But to replace the bowstring bridge is *only* a million pounds, which yes is a lot, but just one of the many bridges to Honeybourne will cost that much. And cheltenham council is very much in favour of us coming further, which mustn't be underestimated.
     
  6. John Petley

    John Petley Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for keeping us updated, Alex. Both Honeybourne and Cheltenham would be big challenges and in view of the effort which has been put in to Broadway (and which still has about £500,000 to go, so I recall) a period of consolidation and reflection before tackling a further extension does make sense. It has certainly been the norm for most lines which have extended progressively to pause for breath after each stage so that everyone can get used to the new arrangements for running a longer line. I presume that once Broadway is reached, the peak timetable will require three sets of rolling stock?

    However, having finally walked the trackbed from central Cheltenham to Hunting Butts tunnel and back last year (ironically shortly after moving away from Gloucestershire!), the physical obstacles weren't as great as I had expected. I'd be interested to know if anyone has analysed the potential increase in passengers (and in tourist spend in Cheltenham iteslf) were the GWSR to extend south. Some extensions have brought clear and obvious benefits, such as the Bluebell's link up with NR at East Grinstead or the SVR's extension from Bewdley to Kidderminster. I know that a study of the K&ESR/Rother Valley plans to reopen Robertsbridge-Bodiam suggested that it would generate substantial extra traffic and considerable economic benefit for the area. It would be good if the GWSR and Cheltenham would see similar benefits from a southern extension but.... let's get to Broadway first!
     
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  7. AndyY

    AndyY Member

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    As someone who has been following the work at Broadway with great interest, but with no other connection with the GWSR, I sincerely hope that after Broadway is open, and after a suitable period of consolidation, that sights are actively set on Honeybourne.
    As far as I'm concerned, preserved or heritage railways fall into two distinct categories. 'The Premier Lines', which have a connection to the national network (or are working their way to re-establishing one), and 'Others'. if I visit a heritage railway I really want to travel to it by train. Having to arrive by road is very much second-best. The possibility of through trips from the rest of the network opens up many more possibilities, as the connected railways have found.
    The GWSR is too good a railway to remain for ever one of the 'Others'!
    Andy
     
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  8. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think a mainline connection is overrated, for the cost. Yes we'll get race trains but that's only a couple of times a year, and I wonder if the money we'd make would be significantly more than what we make anyway.

    A mainline connection at Cheltenham isn't impossible anyway. There is the "deviation" plan put forward a little while back, but I also wonder if there is room to squeeze just a single track onto the mainline following more or less the original formation anyway? I've walked most of the trackbed hut never right up to the end at the spa station so I don't know personally.
     
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  9. GeoffS75

    GeoffS75 New Member

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    The comments suggesting get to Broadway and then see how running the extra distance goes make a lot of sense to me. If an extension to get a mainline connection is to be considered then I would guess to Honeybourne is the easier (four or five road over rail bridges to get TLC, plus 3 to 4 miles of trackbed clearance but no other major obstacles) but from a visitor point of view it is possibly a bit dull from a scenery point of view perhaps and whilst Honeybourne is growing apace with plenty of new houses it is a bit middle of nowhere. Through trains from Paddington for races would be more direct albeit with a change of loco/direction at Honeybourne and if we really want to dream perhaps the reinstatement of Long Marston to Stratford and through trains from Tyseley could be on the cards.

    Cheltenham is a bigger challenge with the Waitrose bridge and other encroachments but a much shorter distance and a bigger populace on the doorstep but would it make much difference to visitors given Racecourse is to hand already?

    The other consideration for either case is what the longer term future is for main-line steam. If in ten years time restrictions are such that main line steam is precluded then getting an extension to either end is money down the drain. Who knows?
     
  10. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think there are 20 "structures" of some kind between Broadway and Honeybourne though, all of which need money, plus the embankment is in a shocking state apparently with loads of slips etc. That's why it's got a £12 million figure on its head! Plus it's owned by S*str*ns, and Honeybourne station is even worse at being in the middle of nowhere than any of our other stations.

    Cheltenham does have the waitrose bridge, but that's only £1million in comparison, and the rest of the trackbed is in good condition. Because it was originally double track, it shouldn't be too difficult to keep the cyclepath, and the council that owns it are very much in favour of us doing so. It also would mean we no longer have to rely on the racecourse for carparking. And of course, as said, it's much shorter so less stress on operations.
     
  11. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    My own feeling is that the future of mainline steam - and by inference, incoming charters - is a red herring.

    I'd suggest that the benefits of a mainline connection are, in order of financial importance:

    1) The ability of passengers to reach the line by rail
    2) The ability to bring in plant - such as tampers - and materials - such as ballast - more cheaply than by road
    3) The ability to accept incoming charters.

    Note that (1) doesn't require a physical connection, just proximity of the mainline and heritage line stations.

    Taking point (1), even that only really makes sense if the journey is easy from major centres of population: in that regard, Cheltenham (between Bristol and Birmingham) would seem rather more propitious than Honeybourne (mid way along a straggling single-track branch line miles from anywhere - the journey time to either Paddington or Birmingham, for example, is nearly two hours with an hourly service to both. By contrast Birmingham New Street - Cheltenham Spa is 40 minutes, two trains per hour).

    None of which says that any extension is viable, but if I had to choose, I'd consider Cheltenham to me more likely to lead to an increase in traffic rather than Honeybourne.

    I'm not really sure how much incoming charters actually contribute to a heritage line. At best you might make a few thousand or so in track access and buffet sales, perhaps a few times a year, against an outlay for the extension of millions. It's probably a low risk way of generating some revenue (in the sense that the charter operator has the main commercial risk) but only if you have a connection already in place; I can't see that you could ever write a viable business plan to build an extension on the basis of charter traffic alone.

    Tom
     
  12. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Thinking about this a bit more: you also have to consider the impact Broadway will have.

    At the moment, I suspect even the most committed GWSR afficionado would agree that the line is currently a bit "nowhere to nowhere". Certainly my experience is that, when you reach CRC, there isn't much to do except wait for a train back. Winchcombe is a very attractive midway destination, except that the village is an uncomfortably long walk away along a busyish road.

    However, Broadway is potentially a game changer, in that you have a real "somewhere" at one end of the line. But to maximise the opportunity, you really want your traffic to originate from the other end of the line, so people traverse the whole line in order to reach Broadway. That suggests that a 14 mile journey starting in Cheltenham and ending at Broadway makes real sense; and would be even better if the starting point could be Cheltenham Spa for those coming by rail, with CRC for those coming by road. By contrast, if instead you extended to Honeybourne, it is hard to imagine an 18 mile each way trip to CRC is especially attractive. Worst case scenario would be that many people starting at Honeybourne found a four mile journey to Broadway was sufficient, and chose not to travel the whole line.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
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  13. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    the original route never did run into Cheltenham Spar, so is there a spur that at one time joined the lines? and more to the point is it still intact so the GWR could gain the mainline at cheltenham, most passengers unless you have engines and stock passed to run on NR though would still have to get to race course station, or is there land nearby where you can build a platform with in walking distance, i havnt been to Cheltenham spar station for some years, but cant remember there being any disussed land near by
     
  14. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think you or maybe someone else mentioned that point a while ago, a very good one that I had forgotten about. Another good reason why Cheltenham makes more sense than Honeybourne.

    As for traffic development, you're probably right, in an ideal world it would be at the Cheltenham end, but there is absolutely no room whatsoever, unless Travis Perkins goes bust of course.......

    However there was talk a while ago of one day moving the base of operations to Winchcombe, the rationale being that C+W can look after the running rakes better and it will be bang in the middle of the line when Broadway is reached. However It would cost a fair amount of money to shift stuff 10 minutes down the road, and Winchcombe has a much smaller car park. Hopefully at some stage in the future we won't have 2 main sets of carriages and a spare, all carriage sets will be equal, so we can swap a whole set out for maintenance. This is one of the reasons we don't run every day at the moment. The other yard on the line is at Broadway itself, but we don't own that, and I think if we ever did get occupancy on any of it, it might be nice to make this more of a feature rather than functional, with the lovely goods shed.

    All a long way off, we've all forgotten that once we get to Broadway that won't be the end of it anyway. Platform 2 won't have had a lot done, the carpark won't be finished, possibly not even the footbridge ad lots of other bits and pieces that aren't essential to opening the station but would be nice to have later.
     
  15. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    The original route joined the midland line just south of Cheltenham Spa station (then Cheltenham Landsdown) along with the Kingham branch by a triangle junction. Virtually all trace of the Kingham Branch has disappeared in Cheltenham, but most of the Honeybourne line route into Cheltenham is a cyclepath right up to Cheltenham Spa station. There is a building that encroaches on the old line just before where it would have joined the midland line, but I wonder whether there's still room for a single track to squeeze through.

    The plan around last year was to only go as far as Prince of Wales Stadium in Cheltenham, near the Pump rooms, as that is the extent of our trackbed ownership, and build a small halt purely for DMU, no run-round loop, but that is now on the backburner.

    Useful diagram:

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. GeoffS75

    GeoffS75 New Member

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    This caught my eye as driving through Cheltenham today I noticed a big Travis Perkins development on the Tewkesbury Road (next to Audi, opposite B&Q) and wondered if Travis Perkins were relocating. If so that would potentially free up part (all?) of the Cheltenham Malvern Road station and shed site. Anyone know more?
     
  17. GWR Man.

    GWR Man. Well-Known Member

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    This branch line !!!! has part already been upgraded back up to double track, and the rest is been planed to do as well (if not started) to give a better service from Worcester to Oxford/London.
     
  18. Kinghambranch

    Kinghambranch Well-Known Member

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    I understand that the Travis Perkins site, which was Cheltenham Malvern Road Shed, is due to be closed and soon to be cleared and the land to be built on. So you are right, there is no room. I cannot confirm a timescale but this is what I was told at the May Festival of Steam Gala.
     
  19. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Ah that rings a vague bell. Hopefully we can acquire the fencing before it all goes.
     
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  20. Lplus

    Lplus Member

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    Would there not be room for a platform next to the Spa station car park parallel to Kensington Avenue. It might have to extend under Queens Road
     

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