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Somerset and Dorset Rebuild

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by lynbarn, May 18, 2016.

  1. Reading General

    Reading General Well-Known Member

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    Wells , like most places, is far to small to warrant a new railway line. Improved roads and a better bus service would be of much greater benefit to the residents and cheaper. Yes, I know that's Heresy.

    Here in Ireland political pressure resulted in the missing link in the Limerick to Galway line being rebuilt and reopened. It cost €105 million , it is slower and dearer than the parallel coach route and loses millions per year. Passenger figures have yet to reach the hoped for Year One prediction after several years.
     
  2. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I've no doubt that Wells is far too small, ditto Cheddar, Axbridge, Shepton Mallett. My original mention was to suggest that if a railway were the answer for Wells, the S&D would not be the first choice. Later, when the point was made about Frome and Yatton, I wanted to suggest that other, better, options might be there.

    I absolutely agree that any of this discussion is entirely hypothetical, and that the area in question will remain unserved by rail for the forseeable future because it will not be sufficiently attractive.

    The second article on the S&D closure is in the latest Backtrack (arrived yesterday), and makes clear just how weak the many of the arguments for retention were.
     
  3. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    It might be easier to accept if those who advocate rebuilding the S&DJR just admitted it was for nostalgia/heritage reasons, none of the other cases hold water.
     
  4. lynbarn

    lynbarn New Member

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    I total agree with you, I personally can't see a commercial use for a rebuilt S&DJR, the only bit which if it could be rebuilt would be the bit from Worthy farm to a rail head nearby as that would service the Glastonbury Festival every year, in effect you could be transporting a hole years worth of passengers over say a week, anything else you manage to move during the rest of the year would be a bonus, the down side with this plan is that the track would have to be able to take HST sets off the main line.
     
  5. steve45110

    steve45110 New Member

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    It's a pity that the S&D was always seen as a whole entity, rather than looking at it as just a line from Bournemouth to Bath, with a branch to the west. Seen that way, it would have been possible to see the Poole to Templecombe section as part of a route to the west, ignoring the rest of the S&D. A service from Bournemouth to Exeter or Plymouth would now be a very useful service. DMU's would make the reversal at Templecombe manageable. There has often been talk of a Weymouth to Exeter service, reversing at Pen Mill or via an old lifted link direct to Yeovil Junction, which never seems to happen. Bournemouth, Poole, Broadstone, Blandford and Sturminster Newton would still justify an S&D routed service though. This would also have prevented at least some of the singling of the SR main line. I believe more doubling is planned anyway.

    I agree about the Glastonbury Festival traffic. the line runs right through the middle of the site scan0003.jpg This is from 1997 and is looking towards Evercreech Junction! As can be seen, there is a train load visible right there. The stages are to the left and camping areas to the right. A rebuild from Highbridge is more achievable than the main line. The M5 bridged the line, because of the milk traffic from Bason Bridge. Most of the route on the Levels is intact. There is a short Sustrans section into Glastonbury. The big problem is the A39 bypass along the trackbed. Then it is intact the rest of the way, although a level crossing on the A361 would need to be reinstated, which may not find favour, when they are being eliminated by NR. A very short extension to Pylle station, next to the A37, would serve the Bath and West Showground, less than a mile away. A look at their website lists 26 events for June to December, plus however many have been held in the first 6 months of this year. Those 2 locations might make the line viable on its own. Michael Eavis has dairy herds so, bringing back milk traffic would be possible. He himself has poured cold water on the idea of bringing back trains so, it seems to be another pipedream....... sigh.
     
  6. GWR Man.

    GWR Man. Well-Known Member

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    There is no M5 bridge over the track bed of the S&DJR at Highbridge, as the line to Bason Bridge dairy got closed when the M5 was built. There is a railway bridge over the M5 which took the railway into the Puriton explosive factory so this could be used instead with a new link to join the old track work including a bridge over the south drain.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2016
  7. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    I am told that the Bason Bridge line was closed despite an offer by the dairy to contribute towards a replacement bridge
     
  8. Phil-d259

    Phil-d259 Member

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    Correct - but the DfT (or whatever they were called back then) were having none of it. As far as they were concerned the railway would be severed come hell or high water.

    As to realistic bits of the S&D that could have been useful commuter routes had the mindset been different in the 60s, then Blandford - Poole is a contender.

    On the northern section the big problem is its lack of conductivity to the wider rail network. Bristol to Shelton Mallet via Bath Spa and Radstock would no doubt be popular today had new connections to the GW network been provided to facilitate it.

    However the fundamental reality is that to much has been destroyed for the railway to make a comeback. Comparisons with the Borders railway are also very misleading because when you look at it closely places like Radstock are a hell of a lot closer to still open stations like Frome than Galashiels was to Berwick Upon Tweed!
     
  9. lynbarn

    lynbarn New Member

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    That's interesting

    Michael Eavis has dairy herds so, bringing back milk traffic would be possible. He himself has poured cold water on the idea of bringing back trains so, it seems to be another pipedream....... sigh.

    I read somewhere in one of the Somerset local papers that I used to get, that he had meet with some of the S&DJRHT management and liked the idea of having a rail link for the festival reinstated.

    I am sure that if you just take all the events that go on either just next door to or along the line itself, I would think you might be surprised at just how much traffic could be generated by that alone, like I have said before, if this was to happen you would need to think outside of the typical railway box.

    One discussion that I recall was to consider rebuilding a loop around part of the line which would include part of the old GWR line from Wells to Shepton Mallet and then include the Shepton Mallet to Evercreech Junction and back around to a new station at Glastonbury and then end up back at Wells.

    The idea was to also have a link off the loop to the East Somerset Railway in the Shepton Mallet area and as has been pointed out above a link to Railtrack from the Glastonbury corner of the loop.

    If I also recall the plan correctly it was to include lunch time and tea time services in Pullman style train sets (I don't think any one really discussed where you could find enough Pullmans to make this happen), But one point that was made and that is it could be built in such a way that if Mainline steam was to disappear for good, then the loop could be a developed in a way so that a 70 mph race track could be used.

    I should point out that none of this discussion came from the New S&DR camp, but from people whom I know have had quiet a bit of experience in working on railways for a living, so if anything was to happen then we need to get past the web based groups like this and produce a report which would be creditable to land owners, the various councils and to people with money, I am sure that there will be plenty of people who would be dead set against rebuilding the railway in the area, but it would be down to who ever wrote the report to do so in such away that people would not feel threatened but could see the benefits of the project.
     
  10. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    That all does sound rather expensive to build, in terms of the number of completely green-field connections and cut corners, especially if those corners are to be at 70mph-suitable radius.

    The work at Shepton Mallet in particular would need a lot of demolition, including quite a length of residential street in the corner between the two routes.

    There is also the issue of the main roads through Glastonbury and Wells now using the trackbed, and any Glastonbury station on the "loop" would probably have to be a couple of miles away from the town.
     
  11. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    They would also need somewhere to go to; are there any milk processing plants in the UK capable of accepting rail traffic nowadays? I don't think so.
     
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  12. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    I suspect like a lot of people if you said to Mr Eavis would he like a rail connection to take his milk away he would say yes.

    Its just the small matter of paying for it......
     
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  13. Mogul

    Mogul Member

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    Would he need to use milk churns to transport the milk from the dairy where the cows are milked to the nearest station where they could be put on a waggon? Else you could run the tracks right in to the farm yard and use a fully fitted tanker waggon which could later be coupled to a passing HST for onward transport to the bottling plant.;)
     
  14. steve45110

    steve45110 New Member

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    Looking at a map, reveals that building a chord from the GWR line at Cole north onto the S&D, would allow a through route to Highbridge via Evercreech Junction. This would serve both the Bath & West Showground and Glastonbury festival, from both directions. Castle Cary would be relieved of the mass crowds waiting for the many buses and coaches used to ferry festival goers to Glasto. The car traffic that jams up the A361 could be reduced. Environmentally friendly 'n' all that. Along with the B&W events, and Glastonbury town itself, this could actually work. Add possible milk traffic and a viable line is a possibility.

    Google shows that light industry has encroached on Evercreech but, the main line is now the access road so, not built on as such. The station is intact, as a house (or two). There is a Gregory milk distribution depot where the freight sidings were..... how convenient. Google filmed when Glasto was on so, the exact interaction between line and festival can be seen. I think this one deserves more than just pipedream status. It has real usefulness and connects 2 main lines as well. A circular service on the Bristol/Glastonbury/Westbury/Bath circuit would be feasible. Whether it would all meet the ever stricter cost/analysis criteria is another matter of course.
     
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  15. lynbarn

    lynbarn New Member

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    Any railway can be rebuilt, it is just a case of working out what you want to do with it and how you want to engage with the people in the area, you could use the tourist argument to rebuild the S&DJR, but at the same time you also need to be able to service the local community as well, from some of the guys I know they tell me it is more expensive to live in the country than most of us townies realise.

    Technology could be used to help out with this problem, such as a combination of a railway and tramway, with tramway vehicles branching off in to the town from the main line along tramway style tracks or having rubber wheels fitted in such a way that can be lowered to take over from the rail wheels and being used like a normal road bus?
     
  16. Phil-d259

    Phil-d259 Member

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    No its not - and anyone who thinks the above is true is merely showing just how out of touch with reality they are.

    Firstly, a railway reopening needs to have a good BCR 365 days a year, not just a week in June every year. The Borders railway for example was only possible because the promoters were just about able to prove it would still generate a reasonable level of passenger traffic even during the depths of Winter when travel is something people do because they need to, rather than want to.

    Secondly railway reopenings - if financed by the Government are for routine passenger traffic ONLY. Freight is expected to stand on its own two feet these days and stump up the cash if it wants the railway to accommodate it. Again this is why the borders railway lacks run round facilities, the bridges have low speed limits for locos and all the loops are fully utilised by the half hourly service.

    Thirdly the BCR of a proposed railway reopening plumets if signifficant new infrastructure is required. The Borders railway was fortunate that most of the 'big ticket' items were still suitable for reuse, although having said that the need for a new bridge under / alignment near the Edinburgh by-pass plus the new Hardengreen Viaduct and some housing demolition on a couple of sites all made getting a positive BCR a struggle. The other thing to remember is level crossings are not acceptable on reopened lines - which means plenty of bridge building is required in flat areas (like the Somerset levels) thus inflating the cost element of the BCR.
     
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  17. steve45110

    steve45110 New Member

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    'would serve the Bath and West Showground, less than a mile away. A look at their website lists 26 events for June to December, plus however many have been held in the first 6 months of this year.'

    That is a quote from my earlier post that you didn't read so, almost every weekend of the year has an event on, not just 1 week in June. The milk depot would only require a couple of sidings set in the surface of the lorry loading area, if the line was already reopened for passengers so, no great cost there. Glastonbury town is a sizeable town without a rail link and, the circular service via Bath and Bristol, would offer links in both directions, also better serving Bruton. Shepton Mallet would be just 4 miles away from Evercreech or, Pylle which could be a Parkway., on the A37.

    It is a far more feasible idea with practical uses, than just re-opening the whole S&D for romantic reasons, appealing though that might be.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2016
  18. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Glastonbury Population 8932 in 2011 ...
     
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  19. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    It's more feasible...but still not very feasible.

    If the "no new level crossings" rule was applied, just how many new bridges would be needed between Glastonbury and Highbridge alone?

    The Bath & West Showground may well have events on most weekends of the year, but who pays for the rail link on the weekdays in between?

    Galashiels, incidentally, comes out considerably larger than Glastonbury on the census; and was a considerably longer distance from a usable railhead before the Borders Railway was rebuilt.
     
  20. Phil-d259

    Phil-d259 Member

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    Regardless of how many events the showground may hold it is totally irrelevant when it comes to BCR calculations. I refer you to the recently opened station on the Coventry - Nuneaton line - if having a major event venue next door was that much of a game changer it would have had a station built next door from the outset the arena opened - but it didn't. What got the stadium a station in the end was the prospect of workers to the nearby business park using it for regular commuting purposes day in day out - just the same reasons as the other new build stations on the line. Being able to serve the stadium on event days is a nice to have - but the last batch of special trains to do so were largely ignored by visitors - most of the passengers being diesel enthusiasts.

    As for milk traffic - please show me a milk processing plant in the UK that is rail connected. No milk processor these days is going to use two lorries and rail when they can use one lorry for the whole journey.
     
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