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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. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I suspect the legislative authorities might have difficulties with twin track across Stanway viaduct, unless you also fitted central door locking, if the Bluebell's experience of Imberhorne viaduct is anything to go by. (We don't have central door locks, but the track is slewed to the centre of the viaduct, precluding double track).

    I think there would also be issues running heritage services adjacent to a high(er) speed line, with various conditions imposed by Network Rail; the higher the speed of the NR line, the more onerous those requirements would become. Check what the Spa Valley did for running into Eridge; a person connected with that line posted on the Bluebell's Yahoo group (and I hope he doesn't mind my reposting) that:

    Tom
     
  2. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    I think some of the posters on here are living on Fantasy Island when they talk of the GWSR giving NR a licence to operate the line. If it is ever re-opened as a through route it will need to be completely relaid as a proper double track mainline capable of 125ish mph running. Not the volunteer laid single track using second hand materials that exists now.
     
  3. ilvaporista

    ilvaporista Well-Known Member

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    A single-track major trough-route just does not work. To be any use it has to be double track. And the barriers to running 'heritage services at weekends' are immnese. All stock would have to comply with strict standards. I am not saying it is impossible, but the costs would be way beyond what we know today.
     
  4. GeoffS75

    GeoffS75 New Member

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    The recent discussion in this thread does raise the interesting thought of what was the original aim in rebuilding the the GWSR (or any other line for that matter). Was the objective to re-instate the line that had (in the eyes of the preservationists) been wrongly closed by BR or was it to run a steam railway? Probably a bit of the both but if primarily the former then it could be argued that if the Government/Network Rail ever decide to re-instate from Cheltenham to Honeybourne/Stratford as part of the national network would be the ultimate vindication for all that has been strived for in re-opening the line so far.
     
  5. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    The problem is, it was probably one idea (to reopen a line that was wrongly closed) when it opened, but has developed into the other idea (to run steam trains). Many preserved lines started with a (noble) intention to try to run a useful community service, but very rapidly realised that was untenable. Meanwhile loco owners beat a path to their door to provide a home for engines and they developed into tourist attractions, rather than public service providers. Even on the Bluebell, the original idea by the founders was to buy a GWR railcar or two and run a regular service. That idea quickly went by the wayside!

    So in the case of the GWSR: even is the original intention in the 1970s was to reinstate the line as a part of the network, amongst most people that idea is long gone and been replaced by a desire to run a heritage attraction; any attempt to go back to re-opening the line as a part of the main network would, I would have thought, be strongly resisted by all but a few members.

    Tom
     
  6. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    Leaving aside how realistic a southern link is (lets assume it is and happens, either through the original route or the NR proposal) how would you go about using this as a diversion route, either as part of a Stratford link or just a link onto the cotswold line? I assume you could just lock all the signal boxes out of service, and employ some form of electronic token at either end if no heritage services are running at that time. But if you DO start running heritage services at the same time, its quite true it needs double track or its all going to get a bit complicated trying to hold a class 66 freight in Winchcombe station whilst you run a steam hauled express through at the same time. It would throw the steam timetable out the window even doing modest moves like that.

    If you somehow use it for only night work, that could perhaps work, again with locking out the boxes. But you still have the problem of who does the maintainance to cope with all the extra traffic (as we saw at Chicken curve its not always cheap). So you have the issue, what responsibility remains the Heritage lines problem, what part becomes Network Rails problem. You also have the issue of do the locals actually like all this extra traffic. I would guess you would have to have some consultation with them on that would you not?

    I think there is a good case the Government SHOULD be looking at trying to integrate heritage lines into the network, and glossing over problems like this before they even arise. So far I get the impression that other than sorting out Heritage-NR signalling systems, such as occured at Swanage, its not really gone any further. Considering the amount of heritage lines in this country, and many of them have reached an age where they now have the potential for connecting back onto the national network and some have even flirted with semi permanent timetabled connections, it arguably should be worked out. After all, if the Norfolk Orbital route ever comes to fruition, you are going to be hit by the sudden problem 'is this a heritage line or a national network line' and even more importantly 'who exactly is going to pay to look after it'.

    None of this is really the GWRs problem, but they are going to be hit by the problems same as anyone else if it ever becomes viable. Maybe someone ought to lobby the Government to consider issues like this, because its highly likely its going to become an issue in the next couple of decades somewhere.
     
  7. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    It's possible that there's a way to 'have the cake and eat it too', in that the thing that makes the most sense, if a line is re-integrated into the national network, as an operational link, is for NR to step in and buy the line. That will presumably involve the government/NR handing over a rather large check (well into the millions). One could use that money to do something heritage oriented...

    E.g. if there is another suitable abandoned line nearby, that money could be used to buy that up, and start the process all over. Yes, I know, some members/shareholders wouldn't agree with the choice - they could either take their share of the money as a lump sum; or if half want to do line A, and half want to do B, the organization could split into two, each taking their share of the money.

    But I wonder if there are enough disused lines, and in suitable locations, to make this work?

    Noel
     
  8. D6969

    D6969 New Member

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    Hmm, like a lot of the Heritage railways around the GWSR is having to upgrade what it runs on. Chicken Curve has recently been relayed with brand new rail, yes second hand concrete sleepers, but they will see you and me out!

    The railway is currently upgrading another area which entails replacement of old life expired second (or third hand) track with more brand new rail, again second hand concrete sleepers.

    There are plans for more areas to be done in the future.

    The extension to Laverton would not need to be upgraded by anyone taking it over (even if they could), as this section is new rail in CWR form and is probably better than some NR track!

    If I were NR taking over I would have other concerns!

    On that note I'm off to Cheltenham Spa station..... by bus!
     
  9. Neil_Scott

    Neil_Scott Member

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    A link onto the Cotswolds at Honeybourne wouldn't create a diversion from the Lickey or Old Hill which is surely the aim of the such a scheme. Turning left at Honeybourne and heading north into Worcester means you have to go up either of those two gradients. If the aim of the scheme, as I have always been told, is to divert freight away from the Lickey then the line has to be rebuilt through to Stratford.
     
  10. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    This has occurred to me with the Scottish Government making moves to reopen (I gather) something like half of the Waverley route, with claims that rebuilding the whole thing are under consideration. Quite what effect this will have on the heritage group that's on part of the formation isnt clear. With the winding up of the BRB residuary Im guessing Government must have an awful lot of track bed on its books that it wouldn't mind losing. Possibly in cases like that they could make an offer to the group to give them an equal or greater amount of trackbed in a nearby location.
     
  11. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    Point taken. Clearly they wouldnt undertake an operation like that just to get further passenger routes onto the Cotswold line, its going to be freight that would drive it.
     
  12. BillR

    BillR New Member

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    A new North-East chord at Abbotswood on the midland would be by far the easiest way to then get to Honeybourne rather than nicking the GWSR.
     
  13. John Stewart

    John Stewart Well-Known Member

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    Somebody's got their computer set to US English!
     
  14. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    But what would be the benefit of that?
     
  15. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Err, take a gander at my location... :)

    My spelling (I don't use spell checkers) is this bizarre mixture of English ('colour', etc) and US ('aluminum'), and a few things that vary depending on (as the hackers say) the phase of the moon ('defence/defence')...

    Noel
     
  16. BillR

    BillR New Member

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    It would complete a diversionary route, without the need to run along the GWSR!
     
  17. John Stewart

    John Stewart Well-Known Member

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    Sorry about that, I took "Western Atlantic" to be around Newquay!
     
  18. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR New Member

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    No it would not because the whole prediction is based on the development that the MR has become choked, the Glos to Cheltenham line has to be four tracked, with the GWSR route taking over as the 'relief lines' to Brum and northwards.

    This will be especially true if a higher speed pax service is envisaged between Bristol / Cardiff to Brum (well, it ought to be, why should Brum to Leeds be HS and Bristol / Cardiff to Brum remain LS?).
     
  19. std tank

    std tank Member

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    Surely, one has to ask, Why was the line closed in the first place? The answer is unstable infrastructure, as we have seen in recent years, unfortunately. There is no way Network Rail would want to reopen a line that could cost them a lot more money than has to be spent anyway.
     
  20. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    No - it was closed finally as a result of a freight train derailment close to the site of the recent costly but probably permanent repair to a short problem area.

    In reality though at closure it was seen as superfluous to the traffic levels seen or envisaged in the 1970's by a cash strapped BR which was downsizing wherever it could do. The derailment was a convenient excuse.

    Unless it is a very well kept secret the rest of the earthworks are not "unstable".
     

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