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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. John Stewart

    John Stewart Well-Known Member

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    Clearly "GWSR blogger" (which makes me so glad that my parents gave me a proper name) is intent on scaring himself and others with wildly exaggerated estimates. The NR estimate for Honeybourne to Stratford is for a top-class railway to carry high speed traffic with the minimum of serious maintenance intervention for many years. The Honeybourne end would involve quite complex trackwork and signalling alterations, and at the Stratford end a highly costly grade separation at Evesham Road to overcome the shortsightedness of roadbuilding on the track bed some 30 years ago.

    By contrast the GWSR sections, both the remaining relatively short one to Broadway and from there to Honeybourne are as straightforward as relaying a railway is ever likely to be. It is for example far simpler than the WHR rebuilding although obviously being standard gauge will increase costs.

    The Cheltenham end could indeed be very costly but never £200m. I'd swallow £20m and possibly £30m but it really shouldn't cost more.
     
  2. GWSRBlogger

    GWSRBlogger New Member

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    Ok go for 30m if you want to, have you got that to spare, I have not. The high cost in both cases Stratford and Cheltenham is more to do with acquiring the land needed and the legal battles that will have to be death with in both cases.
     
  3. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    I think a point most people many miss is that Cheltenham council seem in favour of the line being relaid. They have taken steps to ensure there is not further encroachment on the old line heading into Cheltenham, which is rather an odd thing to do if they are against it. There has also been a few letters sent into the local paper pointing to one way to bring punters into Cheltenham high street is reopening the long close halt there and relaying the line into Cheltenham. Would they put up money towards it? Well perhaps not. Although im not sure anyone has actually ever asked them about it, let alone the local traders. There is clearly a case for a financial station there, either heritage or otherwise.

    Also, I gather there has been a recent problem with the line in between Birmingham and Cheltenham. If that doesnt raise the point that closing the line between stratford and cheltenham was a mistake, I dont suppose anything will.

    Ultimately you have to look at the cost. And of course how hard it would actually be to run a regular rail service or diversion over the GWR, which presumably would be an expectation if NR or the Council ever chip in for relaying the formation. That I think may well be harder than many expect.
     
  4. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR New Member

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    My crystal ball says that Cheltenham to Stratford is one of the most likely cross country routes to be reinstated. I imagine the preservationists will be horrified (we often are, I have noted, when re-using the railway formations for the purpose they were built is mentioned) but if rail traffic generally increases in the manner that everywhere else is expected to increase, it looks inevitable to me that over three decades, the reinstatement for freight as well as pax will be very strong. The alternative route, north from Bristol is through the Severn Tunnel and Lydney (new chord needed) and that is already rammed. Four tracking under the Severn is presumably a non-starter. So is the present route via Ashchurch well on the way to being similarly capacity-strained.
     
  5. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    Something just occured to me with that post. Assuming that NR and everyone feels that reinstating the Malvern Road end back to the main line is a bad idea, but wants an alternative line to the midlands, is there any alternative to being able to use the GWR? Ive never looked it up on Google, but I just wonder if the Ashchurch branch to Evesham would ever be feasible to be relayed by NR. That would give a link from the Midlands line onto the Worcester-Oxford line, and hence via the cord to Long Marston onto the line to Birmingham. I just cant remember which way the cord at Evesham was facing, was it east or west?

    Rather a slow route I would think, but then running over the GWR is never going to be fast again, unless they relay it as double track and somehow get approval to run above 25mph. I can think of numerous reasons why that would be very difficult to achieve.

    Just an idle thought anyway.....
     
  6. The_Bristolian

    The_Bristolian New Member

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    The capacity constraint in the medium term will be addressed at least in part in part by ERTMS. A more pertinent question to ask is will preservationists be horrified if there turns out to be no means of integrating ERTMS kit into steam locomotives thereby bringing an end to mainline steam again.

    http://www.ertms.net/media/2428/ertms facts sheet 3 - ertms levels.pdf

    I think that we'll turn out to be a long way from the government issuing compulsory purchase orders against the GWSR or the GCR come to that. There does however appear to be some sort of an appeal underway to reinstate the entire Somerset & Dorset line

    Somerset & Dorset railway - e-petitions
     
  7. GeoffS75

    GeoffS75 New Member

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    Off the top of my head the Ashchurch to Evesham option is a non-starter due to building in Hampton (where Bengeworth station was located) and on and around where the Midland station and yard was.

    If there were a need to join the GWSR to Network Rail in Cheltenham would a new formation and chord from Hunting Butts going north of Swindon village be an option?
     
  8. guard_jamie

    guard_jamie New Member

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    There is apparently a hand-held Swedish version of ERTMS that may prove the saviour of heritage operations. It's all a case of miniaturisation, isn't it. Eventually ERTMS, which is currently the size of a mobility scooter on the Cambrian 158s, will get smaller and smaller.

    Rebuild the S&D as a network rail line? In my opinion, ludicrous. With the Weymouth-Bristol line in place, the S&D would be just unnecessary duplication. The towns along its length are not large enough to merit it in themselves.
     
  9. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    The NR proposal involved a new triangular connection somewhere north of Lansdown to avoid the town issues
     
  10. John Stewart

    John Stewart Well-Known Member

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    It will happen somewhere; perhaps our chums at the Lavender Line will be first but if rebuilding closed lines really took off those substantially preserved as heritage railways must be a better option than those sold off and incorporated into the landscape.
     
  11. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    So far I dont think anywhere has introduced a successful timetabled rail service from a preserved line onto the mainline. I think Minehead has come close, but short of a hire in class 31 set pulling some mk1s, nobody has yet made that work full time, despite FGW visiting the line from time to time.

    OTOH, there was a fairly regular trip over the WSR with a class 66 hauling stone for use as a sea defence. So whilst use of these heritage lines for passenger use looks a bit of a dubious argument, for freight the argument can stack up. I mean, assuming you did install Cheltenham-Stratford, that would be useful for railfreight which you could take off the Midland line to Birmingham. Ditto Steam heritage tours. That would presumably free up some train paths.

    As far as passenger operations are concerned, I think the GWR has more potential than most, not least because of the high street, race course, and that its a pain in the bottom to get a connection to travel anywhere in the cotswolds via rail from the cotswolds. I live in South Glos, and would often like to travel to Evesham, but short of a long journey via rail to Worcester or (astonishingly) Reading, its impossible to get there with a connection from Kemble.

    Would anyone use such a service travelling over the line? Well thats the question. I dont think anyone is going to stump up the money to find out anytime soon. Its going to be railfreight thats going to drive that, and thats not likely to appreciably increase till after the economy improves.

    Its all rather moot until they get back to Honeybourne and the Government stumps up the readies to reinstate Stratford-Honeybourne. The latter is something thats yet to be proven will happen, obvious choice though it may appear to us.

    Thanks for that on Ashchurch, Ive often wondered about that.
     
  12. black5

    black5 Well-Known Member

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    Apart from the North Yorkshire Moors
     
  13. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    Yeah I had forgot about that one. Is there anywhere else ive missed? I think the Wear Valley Railway did try and it didnt work out did it?
     
  14. hussra

    hussra New Member

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    IIRC the South Devon Railway (but back in Dart Valley Railway days) ran into Totnes station 1985-87?
     
  15. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    Yes thats true they did, until BR (or was it Railtrack?) started asking too much money for the connection and they ended up building their own station and pathway.
     
  16. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Building of the Dart Valley Totnes station was started well before they tried running into the BR platforms.
     
  17. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR New Member

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    There is certainly no building in the way north of Swindon village, just farmland - it has always looked a simple connection to me.
     
  18. Luke Bridges

    Luke Bridges New Member

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    I cant help but think what potential traffic is being missed by not at least running to the high street in cheltenham (before the bow bridge) to a single track halt.
    Especially with communities along the line anyway and bishops cleeve could be rebuilt (dont know the state of play here) to provide a good potential of extra footfall.

    Just my thoughts anyway .....
     
  19. John Stewart

    John Stewart Well-Known Member

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    Railways disconnected from the national network, where everything has to come by road, seem a somewhat unfortunate arrangement. Unable to trade on the principle that railways can take away road traffic, they become attractions in their own right generating road traffic. Connection at one end is always desirable and the GWSR is committed to pursuing this at Honeybourne. As regards an even more praiseworthy southern connection, much depends on what the detail of one's objective is. If it is to link somewhere with the former MR main line then a link starting immediately south of Cheltenham Racecourse Station would be relatively easy. It could curve westward around the end of the ridge pierced by Hunting Butts Tunnel and then south-west to join the main line north of the bridge carrying it over the road flanking the northern edge of Wymans Brook residential area. Total length is some 1.6km with minimum radii (reverse curves either side of a straight) of some 500m. There is no property in the way and no public roads to be crossed. If an NR sponsored reconnection to the national system were proposed this would be the obvious route - shorter, cheaper and with no badly affected properties. Objection on the inevitable grounds of landscape intrusion could be expected but the topography lends itself to reasonably effective screening.

    Restoration of the former route through the town would be of greater benefit to Cheltenham, permitting a station close to the town centre rather than the slightly off-centre Lansdown. It would however be very expensive because of the need to replace and repair viaduct structures. If such restoration could be achieved the GWSR could have a station adjoining Lansdown but independent of NR tracks. Also, notwithstanding the suggestions in the above paragraph, restoration of the historic route could, as an alternative to sole GWSR use, leading directly to the restoration of four tracks to Standish Junction. It would therefore be the ideal solution for capacity problems in the wider corridor as well as providing local benefits.

    Protection of the original route has been a little half-hearted in the Cheltenham urban area. Let us not be too harsh on those responsible; 1976 was still at a time of railway retrenchment and rationalisation and few could have foreseen the massive rise in demand for railway services. Enthusiasts always hoped for such, but few of them would have forecast it actually happening.
     
  20. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    Id heard of the alternative link before, but looking at google I couldnt quite work out how it would fit. It clearly does look a better suggestion if feasible for a number of reasons, not least because even if the original formation is restored, there is no room for a decent sized station in Cheltenham now. Rather unfortunate the station they DO have is such a long way out the centre of town. St James or Malvern road were near ideal as far as where they were sited for visitors to the town. So running traffic from the midlands into Lansdown makes a lot of sense if you are talking about a passenger service and not just a freight line.( In fact even if you ARE talking about a freight line it makes sense. I cant imagine many of those in new house backing onto the old formation in Cheltenham would be thrilled at class 66 or steam railtour passing by each day...)

    Well there is High Street. But that Im pretty certain even when open in the 20s was not much more than a halt. It would be useful for local shoppers undoubtedly, but would be very difficult to convert into anything useful for commuters, simply due to local parking issues I would have thought.

    Perhaps both solutions would be an interesting idea. If NR ever put the above proposal into action, it presumably wouldnt necessarily stop the GWR going into Cheltenham as part of a shortbranch line just to high street, and try and get some of the benefits of a high street station as far as local trade or heritage use is concerned.

    All speculation Im aware, but still rather interesting it has to be said.
     

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