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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. Corbs

    Corbs Member

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    Here's a few images of what the footbridge outside Waitrose looks like (Just need to point out these are from google and not my own):

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  2. Farlington Edward

    Farlington Edward New Member

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    BillR - if the Cheltenham Spa station development scheme comes off, it would take a huge weight off GWSR's shoulders, and clearly the 'problem' with the unsuitable bridge at Waitrose (as depicted in Corbs' admirable photographs) would be shouldered by the whole community - doubtless meaning the bridge having to be replaced: what poor planning allowing it in the first place! The idea of a light railway running up as far as the Cheltenham Race Course from Cheltenham Spa seems a good compromise but I would suggest GWSR only has to share a part of the cost; an interchange with GWSR principal heritage trains could then (and more successfully) be positioned by the Race Course.
     
  3. Kinghambranch

    Kinghambranch Well-Known Member

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    Interesting that the proposal for a revamped Cheltenham Spa (Lansdown) Railway Station (What's a train station?) includes a bay platform not too far from the original bay platform where one could catch a train to Southampton via Andoversford, Swindon Town and Andover in the days when railways were the only really suitable way to travel. Interesting that Cheltenham seems to have woken up to the fact that it needs something bigger than Lansdown in its current form. Cheltenham St James would have made an admirable second station but, as the photos show, its now a Waitrose! There is another station at Cheltenham of course but that is the Race Course Station which the GWSR owns.
     
  4. BillR

    BillR New Member

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    It's more than just that long span steel cycle path. St. Georges road over-bridge was also reconstructed at the same time, being strengthened, in doing so giving far less headroom beneath. It would have to be demolished and rebuilt for any railway to fit underneath. It is just visible in the extreme bottom left corner of Corbs first picture and is twixt Lansdown & Waitrose.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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  6. Corbs

    Corbs Member

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    If using the GWSR as a relief line is part of the bid to restore a line through Cheltenham, then a possible course of action would be to work with the council to prevent development on the remaining parts of the trackbed in the town, while the railway extends north to link up to NR there, thus more likely that a deal could be struck whereby NR facilitate the larger engineering works in Cheltenham in exchange for the ability to route trains over the line.
    How and when they would be able to, without interfering with the GWSR too much, remains to be seen, as does if TOCs would be willing to run trains over an enthusiast-run operation (Plus the wear and tear said trains would have on the infrastructure).
     
  7. Farlington Edward

    Farlington Edward New Member

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    I didn't know that about the St George's Road overbridge - all the more reason for that section to be a 'major infrastructure project' publicly funded.
     
  8. BillR

    BillR New Member

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    I'd say £200m is nearer than £30m and that's just to get into the town let alone all the work required to upgrade the GWSR. Just look at the cost of "station improvements" £15m+ (from my post #120).

    I can't see that being stumped up by any government for a mile or two of track let alone a volunteer run preserved line, so the answer to the OP is NO.
     
  9. Kinghambranch

    Kinghambranch Well-Known Member

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    I agree, and I would reiterate my post No 7 in this thread. The situation has not changed, the public sector funding situation remains dire. The Bluebell Railway has shown that private money and tremendous volunteer support can achieve much but the situation in Cheltenham is not the same. The time to save the Honeybourne Line in its entirety was back in the late 70s. We did what we could and we should be grateful for what we have. The stated policy of the GWSR (as per the GWSR Boardroom Blog) is to press on to Broadway asap and, all being well, on to Honeybourne and the National Network. Let's support that aim as its achievable!
     
  10. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    To put it into context: the inflation-adjusted figure for the Bluebell extension from Horsted Keynes to East Grinstead was slightly under £2m per mile. For that, we got all the land purchases north of Horsted Keynes; restoration of a viaduct; restoration of a tunnel; complete-reinstatement of one bridge (New Coombe Bridge, just north of West Hoathly) and repairs to various others; purchase and restoration of one station (Kingscote) and complete construction of another (East Grinstead); 6 miles of permanent way and signalling; one signal box; connection to the mainline - oh, and digging out a certain cutting!

    What it didn't buy, in relation to Cheltenham, is any significant purchase of land in an urban area; no crossings of major roads (there was a B-road at Kingscote and a residential street in EG, but both on bridges / viaducts that only needed repairs, not renewal); very limited works in a significant town (just a bit on the edge of East Grinstead) etc etc. So without being completely familiar with the actual earthworks, bridging etc needed to get to Cheltenham, it has all the hallmarks of being much more expensive per mile than the Bluebell extension.

    As for going the other way: being a bit familiar with the Cotswolds, Broadway looks like a no-brainer to me. It's a complete honeypot waiting to be tapped. But beyond that, you have to start weighing up the extra running cost of an extension against how much you can ramp up fares. Adding five miles to a ten mile line increases your likely demand from two to three engines and sets of carriages in action every day to run a worthwhile service, and adds 50% to your maintenance bill for infrastructure, but you can't necessarily increase fares to suit. So your income per passenger per mile drops, and the only way out of that trap is to increase passenger numbers. Cheltenham - Honeybourne is putting the GWSR in the SVR or WSR sort of league for distance, so very roughly in that league for operating costs. Which is an admirable ambition, but means a step change in passenger numbers from the current railway to make the income side add up.

    Tom
     
  11. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    The post with the station plans makes me reflect that someone was very silly indeed to allow the demolition of Cheltenham St James. Even if massively reduced it would still have more potential capacity than an upgraded Cheltenham spa. Better located too. Thank you Beeching...

    The more I think of it, the more the cutting via Racecourse Station to connect up to the national network is a better idea. I just hope someone has the idea to try formally protect that land to make it a possibility in the future. Not that building lots of homes is in vogue at the moment. But it clearly has a lot more potential than fighting back into Cheltenham as the photos illustrate. Best option IMHO.

    Cheltenham council was discussing a tramway on the trackbed about 6 months ago. Not sure where the funding for it was going to come from.

    Yes, the GWR should focus on Broadway and latterly Honeybourne. Thats a laudable and right aim. But even Bluebell still has very long term goals about what it wants to achieve with a potential connect to the line at the south at some point in the future, perhaps even two if fate should favour them. I dont see that concentrating on immediate goals at the GWR should somehow get in the way of consideration of long term concepts of what to do with the South at Cheltenham, or north of Honeybourne. Racecourse is a nice station, but it in my view a connection back to the national network in the south is in the long term a good idea, not only for Railtours, stock movement, but also as a means of accessing the Racecourse station each year, which is hardly ideal from the Honeybourne end (after all, why run a train over 10 miles to Honeybourne, when you could run one a much shorter distance to Cheltenham Spa, which gives much better access North and South?). Indeed, according to one post on the blog, a group of inebriated Glaswegians on race day recently turned up at the station trying to buy a ticket for Glasgow, which suggest that the requirement is there if not quite the capability yet.

    As for the north of Honeyborne, there isnt much I can see that there that would cost much to maintain till you get to the bridge over the river. That said I think the previous poster is wise to suggest leaving it to Network Rail to reopen that, the road on the trackbed alone is going to be expensive to rectify(as would bypassing Long Marston depot) and that this is primarily a Stratford on Avon council driven request, and any heritage line impeding the trackbed is only going to complicate negotiations. But this opens up another possibility that has to be considered. What if the GWR got running powers over NR metals to Tyseley? Before anyone laughs, take a look north of Stratford on Google earth. The line is not that much used, has falling numbers (which is presumably why NR wants to reconnect Stratford, to make it more viable), and frankly has some of the finest GWR 1900's Structures outside of the GWR itself.
    Hall Green Station
    That one in particular is very interesting. It has similar station architecture to Toddington and previously Honeybourne, but also has a footbridge similar to that seen at Stroud and latterly Broadway. There is a lot of very remarkably preserved stations on this line. Even Henley in Arden is substantially intact, despite losing half its platform buildings and is now shut up and unstaffed.

    Now granted scenery wise, its not exactly the NYMR. But when you get out of Birmingham is pleasant enough. Vintage trains run tours to Stratford often enough, wouldnt running over the GWR to Cheltenham be the icing on the cake? And when HS2 gets finished, the proposed terminal building in Birmingham is going to be a relatively short distance from Birmingham Moor Street. Even if you just run DMUs (steam locos are hardly economic enough to run every day) as far as tourism is concerned there surely is an argument for considering the whole of the future of this line in its entirety, rather than just discussing North of Stratford, Stratford-Honeybourne or the GWR. The line was built a through route, and whilst its never likely to be anything like it was, at least consideration of long term aims suggests that traffic along the like could, and probably should, increase if it was considered a whole, rather than a selection of pieces. It was closed piecemeal, it doesnt me in the post BR world we really have to think that way.

    Just my view FWIW. This said, whatever the GWR does I wish them the finest for the future. They are a first rate outfit and after the problems of recent years it deserves all the success they can get.
     
  12. Corbs

    Corbs Member

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    Now that would be one hell of a trip! Although I would speculate the situation would be more along the lines of the Torbay Express on the Dartmouth Steam Railway - main line certified engines and stock doing weekend railtours from Birmingham down to Honeybourne, then onto GWSR metals to the racecourse, than the other way around?
    If I can contribute a pipe dream - after Honeybourne, head up to Long Marston (To a transport museum and loco shed/workshop facilities established on site) where the whole train turns on the loop line around the fields before heading South again......
     
  13. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    Yes, you are probably right, mainline certified engines running on the GWR. Though conceivably any link between the two could have handover of carriage stock at Honeybourne to be hauled by their locomotives onward over the GWR. If thats so, it would suggest some kind of turning facility at Honeybourne along with some water and coaling facilities may eventually be a good idea, however vestigial. It would be interesting to see how easy that would be to integrate with any NR link which would presumably (at least in the Evesham direction) be utlizing the same platform. It does support your point, putting the facilities in at Long Marston would probably be a much better idea. There would appear to be more room.

    If Cheltenham Spa (I keep typing Malvern Road!lol) was upgraded, it makes a case that it would be easier to run a shuttle service between Spa and Racecourse along a new trackbed. Many of the trains that run into the station would be terminating in the new bay platforms freeing up paths. But of course thats just the theory. It may be that the old Midland line will get even busier making route pathing more difficult. But its possible to envisage it being viable on race days at least.

    See, my view is this. Its increasingly obvious the national network is slowly becoming impassible to GW locomotives due to re-gauging (this may only get worse when the GWML is electrified). Halls are barred from a lot of lines, and King Edward 1st is having to go through a diet to remain viable (lord knows how Didcots 47xx is going to manage when built!) So quite possibly the ONLY way we are going to see GW locos having a good thrash on railtour at anything approaching their old speeds is on purpose designated lines that are retained wider gauge for the purpose and preferably unelectrified. I mean, just look at a map. Its a good run, not too long, is not well frequented by the public (though admittedly this may change if the stratford Honeyborne link is restored) and has lots of GWR centric structures worth preserving. Best of all it has steam handling facilities at either end. It surely has to be worthy of consideration if (more likely when) that link is eventually restored.

    Whats the alternative for GW fans? A trip to the GCR, and only then over 25mph running if not hauling any passengers. Hardly ideal in my view.


    Long marston reminds me of something else I was considering. When the GWR gets back to Honeybourne, I idly wonder if it would make more sense to relocate many of its maintainance facilities at Long Marston. No idea if there is any land available there, or if indeed its remotely viable. But it would free up some room at Toddington to lay out a demonstration area for freight handling. I note some people suggested this for Broadway (which now would appear is no longer viable as the Goods shed has been sold) but that doesnt mean its not an interesting idea. Id go to see it, not sure quite how many other people would.

    Probably a pie in the sky ideas I concede. But when you hear of Stratford Pushing NR to study means of reinstating the link, you cant help but think of the potential here for the GWR if it ever happens. My own view is, the growth of Stratford on Avon will mean not if but when.
     
  14. Corbs

    Corbs Member

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    By the looks of it, Long Marston's owners seem to want to develop the area for housing.
    If not there, then a potential site for building sheds and maintenance facilities could be in the Honeybourne triangle - it is road-served, but the tracks on each side would help with keeping the site secure, as would the countryside location.
     
  15. John Stewart

    John Stewart Well-Known Member

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    Long Marston depot is off-line so no diversion is required. Also, whilst the prospective developers would like to build housing there, they have no wish to obstruct the railway solum.
     
  16. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR New Member

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    Now I have had chance to read the proposal, it seems to me that this thread is misnamed. It's not about the GWSR reaching the mainline station. It's about the mainline reaching the GWSR!. This already could be done by a short spur to the north of Cheltenham, of course, probably joining to the north of the Hunting Butts tunnel.

    However the very intelligently put-together proposal suggest that a light rail connection could be made through to the tunnel and beyond to the Racecourse. That would be a major benefit to the Racecourse access and also enable changing onto the Preservation service to Broadway (or just continuing to it). I still see the Spa station project as part of a national and regional attempt to deal with expected growth north from Bristol to Birmingham and a gentler freight route.

    Starting with improving the station area and preserving at least a chance of connecting up towards Honeybourne (the latter gain without initial cost) is very clever, congratulations!

    I knew about the two bridges, St Georges and Waitrose, (there are a couple more that need strengthening or replacing too) but these are not insurmountable barriers, using modern bridge technology. Preserving the formation (not having to buy it in this case) is the most important - see Bluebell, WSR and SVR experience.
     
  17. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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  18. GWSRBlogger

    GWSRBlogger New Member

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    You ask why run race train the longer distance to Honeyborne rather than a short distance South?
    have you checked out how much On train catering takes just from Toddington. In 4 days of the Cheltenham Festival over 10 % of the years OTC income! From Honeybourne we could make enough to really have pipe dreams!
     
  19. GWSRBlogger

    GWSRBlogger New Member

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    we have a clear sight of Broadway. We own the land and have operating rights etc. it's just 2 miles of track some embankment work, a station building and 5 bridges. The bridge work has been surveyed and costed. So we will be in Broadway in approximately £1.5 million time. If you want to make that a little sooner you can always donate thought Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway - Gloucestershire's mainline heritage railway 'The Honeybourne Line'

    Peter
     
  20. david1984

    david1984 Well-Known Member

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    Think Ashchurch - Evesham would be of limited use if your just going to feed back into the mainline at Norton/Abbotswood with a climb of the Lickey/Old Hill to reach the West Midlands.

    Course this line used to carry on north of Evesham and join the mainline at Barnt Green, I'm sure you know the top end as far as Redditch is still in use as the Cross City Line (woulden't this line of had a decent gradient somewhere too if the Mainline had 2 miles of 1 in 37 ?), problem there is immediately south of what's now Redditch Station and the northern portal of Redditch Tunnel have been obliterated under a bus depot & shopping centre.

    Always think of this route when taking the A road to the GWR as opposed to the M5 and driving past the remains of the signalbox at Broome Jcn in the undergrowth.
     

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