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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. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    I would absolutely like to see more consultation and discussion on future projects, services etc.

    Just to give an idea of things that are on the cards, here's a quick list of stuff that's all jockeying for money and resources over the next few years:
    • Sorting out this bloody bridge over the railway at Stanton currently hanging over us (both physically and metaphorically!)
    • Carriage shed
    • Proper S+T workshop
    • Proper Loco Department volunteer facilities
    • Commission Broadway signalling, finish P2 and bridge to allow two trains at Broadway
    • Footbridge at Cheltenham making use of P2 easier
    • Turntable installed at Winchcombe
    • Admin moving from Toddington portacabins to recently purchased offices opposite Winchcombe station
    • Assess best use of newly purchased land beside new office space at Winchcombe
    • Increased size shop moving off Toddington platform, possibly to new building on former site of portacabin offices
    • Restore Toddington station building with internal ticket office with 2 windows
    • Moving to longer timetables to allow passengers starting from Cheltenham to enjoy a longer day at Broadway
    • Continue in our aim of improving the interchangeability of carriage rakes (see previous post)
    I'm sure I'll have missed some things out. Some of those things are relatively simple, they just need the money put in place. Some things require a lot more discussion; IMHO, all the proposed stuff happening at Winchcombe really needs to be tied down all at once, even if it's not all done at once. The turntable site relies on P'wa having more space elsewhere, hopefully provided directly or indirectly by the extra yard space purchased at Winchcombe. Carriage shed - how is it going to be used? This impacts on where it goes. Do we want it as a running shed to store our 2/3 main rakes all year round - does that mean starting and finishing the operational day at Winchcombe rather than Toddington? Or are we content for it to store just the third rake and spare carriages, maybe the two main rakes just for winter - does that mean it'll be half empty half the year?

    I don't really see Cheltenham Racecourse as being somewhere to put a proper cafe. All our other cafes benefit from passing trade which I just don't see materialising at the racecourse. It's not really a destination, far more of a starting point, people want to turn up, park for free, get on the train and go. There is stuff we want to do at Cheltenham though. It's quite inconvenient having the ticket office at the top of the ramp and everything else down at the bottom, so do we want to sell tickets at the main station building, necessitating some building work? If so, what do we do with the original historically important building at the top of the ramp?

    On a personal level, I'd like to see us run footplate experiences on normal running days; with passing loops at Cheltenham and Broadway it fits better and adds more interest for all visitors. This may be a good case to use the freight train more, which at the moment is sadly underutilised.

    Whilst running 3 days a week is our practical limit I think Tuesday to Thursday is right. They seem to be the days most favoured by coach parties, and in our very limited experience whilst volunteers for Fridays haven't been too bad Mondays have been a little more difficult.

    Really, all the above needs to be sorted and most of it actioned and bedded in for a few years before we can have a proper informed discussion about how useful a network rail connection would be, deciding if it's something we'd like, then deciding how we go about doing it, be it following the original trackbed to Cheltenham Spa or Honeybourne, or the alternative "deviation" suggestion put forward by some to join the mainline north of Cheltenham Spa station.
     
  2. RichardBrum

    RichardBrum New Member

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    Pittville also doesn't get you anything that CRC doesn't already do.
    Not really any space for a decent station, not walkable from centre of Cheltenham, no parking, public transport etc.
    But you still have all the costs of building & maintaining something in an exposed location, & it's unlikely that it would produce any additional income.
     
  3. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    Public transport is marginally better, buses would stop much closer to the station than they currently do, and I think we would get some extra income, but I agree, not enough to justify all the costs.
     
  4. Kinghambranch

    Kinghambranch Well-Known Member

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    Plenty to do on the current GWSR to keep people busy for the next 10 to 20 years. Worry not about any extensions for the foreseeable future as post #301's list is far more important and far more urgent I would argue.
     
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  5. RichardBrum

    RichardBrum New Member

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    This is where the really long term decisions/possibilities impact on stuff.
    Will there be more than 3 carriage rakes? How long will a 'standard' rake be? What are the daily servicing requirements?
    What about DMU storage?
    If you go to Honeybourne do you build storage there? Would you then start a service from there, either by sending a loco up, or having some secure loco storage? Is that easier for volunteers from northwards as opposed to Toddington?
    Could Hunting Butts tunnel be made secure & a rake stored there for nights between operating days?
    (These are of course open ended questions, & you don't try & answer them straight away, let them have multiple answers over time)


    The shed at The Bluebell is interesting, & the rainwater capture & use is a good feature
    https://www.derekhayward.co.uk/BluebellRailway-1/HLF/Woodpax-2012/

    & there's the long gone carriage shed at Tyseley
    https://www.warwickshirerailways.com/gwr/gwrt2969.htm
     
  6. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    All important questions, except, I'd argue, regarding Honeybourne. I really don't think we should be planning any sort of services/sheds etc. with Honeybourne in mind, to me, that's putting the cart way ahead of the horse!

    Being able to securely store carriage rakes overnight at Cheltenham securely would be really really helpful. I'm not convinced using the tunnel would be suitable storage for carriages though? In any case it's not long enough to store a full rake, Hunting Butts is probably long enough for 4 or 5 Mk1s. Our 2 main rakes are 8 vehicles long. I'm yet to be convinced on the need for the second set to be 8 carriages, but sometimes the first train out of Cheltenham could do with being 9 long!

    Just leaving a rake of carriages stabled in the platform at Cheltenham is sadly a non-starter, not if we want glass in the windows anyway.

    Regarding ease of volunteer access, for Guards and TTIs (roughly 80 volunteers) without going through each one there's certainly a decent proportion of us who live in Cheltenham/Gloucester/Elsewhere south of Toddington, which gain would be great for starting trains from Cheltenham, if only we could keep carriages safe there.
     
  7. bluetrain

    bluetrain New Member

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    I think you've highlighted an important issue here - to add to the list of important issues in your earlier post.

    The extension to Broadway, with a proper station rather than just portacabins, was a huge and most welcome achievement. But extensions do have down-sides. One is that the increased train-mileage may have to be offset by reduced service frequency - which at least for the moment, has indeed happened on the GWSR.

    The GWSR is now in the front-rank of UK heritage railways in respect of line length. However, most of the longer heritage railways have stock stabling and servicing facilities at both ends, so can start and terminate trains at either end of the line. On the GWSR, trains have to start and finish at Toddington, two-thirds of the way along the line from Cheltenham Racecourse. Result is that passengers at Cheltenham see a service that starts late and finishes early - a much shorter service day than seen at Kidderminster, Bishops Lydeard, etc. A longer service day may be difficult for available volunteers to provide, and might mean running near empty trains to/from Toddington at start/end of day.

    So I think that, before starting any further extensions, the issue of stock stabling and servicing at the southern end of the line will need to be addressed. Problem is that there is no obvious location. Generous benefactors may be needed to finance additional land acquisition and construction of suitably secure buildings. Clearly a very, very long term aspiration.

    For the foreseeable future, I think consolidation of operations on the existing 14-mile line needs to be the policy.
     
  8. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    Absolutely. The fact that virtually everywhere else comparable starts trains at both ends of the line only struck me when I was looking around wondering why we were finding it so difficult. Allowing people in Cheltenham to have a longer day at Broadway is definitely one of our priorities service-wise. Secure storage or extra land for storage anywhere near Cheltenham is beyond long term I suspect! Hence why we're moving to split shifts, to be able to accommodate those near empty trains to and from Toddington at the beginning and end of the day.

    On train frequency, on a 3 train timetable, which we're running most weekends this year as well as a few days in the summer holidays, we can quite comfortably manage a 1 hour frequency which works quite well, I've found it a nice balanced timetable to both work and enjoy as a passenger. I think it may be some time before we can justify having a 3 train timetable more often than we do, bearing in mind this year is the first year we've ever run more than one steam train mid-week outside of the holidays. Mid-week tends to be more coach parties anyway who aren't so fussed about service frequency, they get on wherever they get on, go up and down the line and get back off again.
     
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  9. RichardBrum

    RichardBrum New Member

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    It's certainly something that's worth thinking about, & if some requirements are arrived at, you might get a group decide to do the early works as an independent project.
    One issue is that much of the line towards Cheltenham is in cuttings, or goes through land that will never be sold, eg the racecourse grounds.
    There is an interesting site off Swindon Lane opposite St Nicolas church, though it's the 'wrong' side of Hunting Butts tunnel for now. Just under 2.5acres
     
  10. martin1656

    martin1656 Part of the furniture Friend

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    Is an interchange station planned, or is it just a spur off NR to enable visiting engines, rail tours and plant to access the line? very careful financial planning is needed, as the very last thing the GWR needs is a very expensive link into the national network that won't pay for its self, apart from the race day specials that are the obvious candidate, will there be a market to make Broadway a worthwhile destination to the market, for instance, would Broadway have the same pull as say Stratford upon Avon ?
     
  11. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    An interchange station at Honeybourne is easy, it already exists - NWR have even put a few track panels down for us. In fact if we went to Honeybourne we could have a cross-platform interchange without the expensive physical link up to begin with.

    If we follow the original route back to Cheltenham Landsown an interchange station would be tricky. At best you might be able to squeeze a platform along with a single track on the double track formation, but with no space for a runround loop so DMUs or top and tail only. That might not be a problem, and again, that is separate to a physical mainline connection at Landsown. But you do still have to get to Cheltenham Landsown which is tricky. Not impossible, but very expensive, only in the same order of magnitude as getting to Honeybourne though, and with less increase in track mileage and knock on effects regarding timetables, stock required etc. as the end result.

    If we go for the "deviation option" cutting across open fields after Hunting Butts and connecting with the mainline north of Landsown station we only get the mainline connection. We could, if we were so minded, stick a platform in the middle of a field, but that won't make any national network trains stop there! It would purely be for the physical mainline connection; railtours, visiting engines, ballast trains, NWR testing etc. on ordinary days people travelling by public transport to the GWSR would be no better off.

    Personally I think our best option is to continue to try and press for better bus connections between Cheltenham Landsown and Racecourse without the 10 minute walk over racecourse hill, and improve/better market buses between Honeybourne and Broadway. Maybe on the latter we could look into providing a free service on galas like we do in Cheltenham to gauge demand.

    If we can achieve that the incentive to extend either to Honeybourne or Cheltenham Landsown is significantly less and ignoring costs the deviation option achieves much of the same remaining objectives. We are then back to the simple question of "Do we want a physical connection with the mainline, how will the benefits offset the money spent?"
     
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  12. Phil-d259

    Phil-d259 Member

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    How about because no of the 'stakeholder' (to use the modern term) has the money to fund it - or alternatively they cannot agree how much each party should contribute.
     
  13. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I get the sense that Broadway is the real honeypot in that area. Comparatively speaking, if you start at Cheltenham, Honeybourne isn’t much of a draw; and if you start at Honeybourne, neither is Cheltenham Racecourse.

    Given that, I suspect that were an extension to Honeybourne to be built, many people - and particularly coach parties - would choose to travel either just CRC - Broadway, or else Honeybourne - Broadway, with relatively few wishing to do the through CRC - Honeybourne journey. In effect, a Honeybourne extension might end up creating something that in core passenger flows, if not operational practice, was akin to two contiguous heritage lines sharing a single “terminus” / destination at Broadway.

    At which point - does the traffic support the additional cost? Given a certain number of passengers willing currently to travel Cheltenham - Broadway, an extension only makes sense if it generates an entirely new market for Honeybourne - Broadway that doesn’t cannibalise the existing market, something I suspect is relatively unlikely.

    Tom
     
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  14. RichardBrum

    RichardBrum New Member

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    Connection to NR at Cheltenham, or in that area;
    Not going to happen. It's a main line, with 8-10 trains per hour through Cheltenham, & passenger usage is growing.
    It will also be on someones long term plan for electrification, it's ~40miles Bristol Parkway>Gloucester>Cheltenham, & ~30miles Bromsgrove>Worcester>Cheltenham.

    A Cheltenham deviation would require ~1mile of completely new track build, costing millions (£5m+), + land acquisition costs + NR costs (!)
    It would also not have passenger use, so wouldn't earn any money towards it's maintenance.


    Whereas if you go to Honeybourne, you can have a station with interchange onto the national network, + have a physical connection via the Long Marston siding.
    Honeybourne is 2tph, so even if that doubled, it would still be easy to fit other movements in, & the connection already exists with track & signalling.

    Honeybourne requires relaying of track on an existing infrastructure, at about £0.5m per mile (£2.5m) + any bridge costs + acquisition from Sustrans(?)
    You could very likely do the whole extension & build a station building for the same or less than a Cheltenham deviation.
    Obviously it could be used for passengers, & with it being ~20minutes each way Honeybourne-Broadway, visitors to Broadway might do a quick round trip as part of their day.
     
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  15. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    There's vast population in the Midlands (and beyond) so there is a potential source of passengers visiting the GWSR from the north. This potential traffic is presently unlikely to drive south of Broadway to take the train back to there so it will be largely new traffic. However, I can't see many taking a full length journey to Cheltenham. From my few days staying there last month, it has little to offer the day tripper. The obvious destination is going to remain Broadway so it will become a railway of two halves. That, in itself does not have to be a problem. In fact, it could be an advantage as you can charge proportionately more for the short journey than for the full length journey. The unanswered question, though, is whether people coming from (say) Birmingham will be persuaded to get out of their car for the last five miles of a 36 mile journey to Broadway, especially as Honeybourne is not on the direct traffic route. This would require good car parking adjacent to the station and convenient trains. I can't see a significant number of these people opting to make their journey on Network Rail so a Network connection would be a desire of the heart rather than a fundamental of a business case.
    At the end of the day, any heritage railway has to have ongoing projects to inspire the volunteer. It needn't be an extension but these things do tend to be good at providing that necessary inspiration. It will be a fight between head and heart. I wouldn't go to Cheltenham, though.
     
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  16. RichardBrum

    RichardBrum New Member

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    There are no buses doing Honeybourne<>Broadway, so definitely an idea to run a service on galas etc.
    About 15minutes each way if you go via Broadway itself, so could offer 2 services in one. Could even make it a 'service' & have cheap tickets, off-set some of the fuel cost.
     
  17. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    No disagreement from me regarding Cheltenham connections, save the deviation is I think closer to half a mile than a mile.

    £0.5m per mile is I think well short of reality. Closer to £1m. I've had figures thrown at me of about £10million for the whole thing - whether that includes paying NWR for the signalling costs to link up etc. I'm not sure.

    My main problem with Honeybourne has never been the capital costs though. I'm sure we could raise that kind of money eventually, if we really wanted to. It's the extra 5 miles to operate and all that that entails. Really it's going to entail an extra train being run every day we operate and I'm not sure if that's something we can really do. As @Jamessquared has pointed out, it may well result in more people doing less mileage on the railway as a whole. "Visitors to Broadway might do a quick round trip as part of their day" they can already do that going to Winchcombe and back.

    I'm not sure I see how extending to Honeybourne taps into a vast population beyond that which we can already reach. As you say, Honeybourne really is in the middle of nowhere when it comes to decent roads from Birmingham, I suspect it would take just as long to drive to Honeybourne as it would Broadway and probably likewise to Toddington if going via the M5.

    As you say, we need ongoing projects to inspire volunteers, but I do believe we've got plenty to look forward to as I've mentioned before. I can also think of a fair few folk who after all the shenanigans at Broadway weren't particularly inspired anyway! General supporters aside, I feel reasonably confident in saying the majority of volunteers are more interested in developing other things on the railway over and above any more extensions.
     
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  18. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    I didn't think there was. There is one that does Broadway-Stratford, I think they did adjust the timetable/stopping point when we opened last year, would be interesting to know if that gets used by anyone too.
     
  19. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    Prior to the extension to Broadway, the only reason for taking a ride on the GWSR was to have a ride on the GWSR. In this case, the potential population would include the Midlands. My assertion that it taps into a vast population is based upon the fact that some of this population has no interest in visiting the GWSR but will wish to visit Broadway and use the GWSR as part of the means of getting there. This is along the lines of people travelling on the NYMR. The majority have a destination in mind, originally Goathland and now Whitby and not a visit to the NYMR. The NYMR is part of their day out, not the reason for it. Broadway now fulfills that in relation to the GWSR. However, very few people will travel past Broadway to take the train back to it as there is little logic for the non-enthusiast to do so. A station at Honeybourne provides the logic for taking the train as part of their day out for those travelling from the north.
    I fully understand that doing this will bring many more problems, other than simply laying the track. It is probably a bridge too far for the railway but is where the head will need to do battle with the heart.
     
  20. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    Ah I see what you mean now, yes. As you said earlier then, comes down to whether people intending to visit Broadway will get out of their cars 5 miles earlier, especially when Broadway is just as easy to drive to as Honeybourne from the north.
     
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