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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 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Hurrah! I too would actually agree that the run to Broadway is a tad longer than ideal, our current length is optimum IMO. I'm sure Broadway will cover it though.
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    We've discussed optimum lengths before so I'll leave that one alone. Having a tourist destination, such as Broadway, is good although there's a 'but' to it. That 'but' is your catchment area. I would suggest that a significant number of your existing passengers come from the Midlands conurbation and I can't see them effectively driving past Broadway to catch the train to Broadway. If this is the case, your tourist honeypot destination is only going to be significant for a much smaller catchment area at the south-west end of the line so I don't foresee a quantum leap in passenger numbers, as experienced by the BB & NYMR. Time will tell, though.
     
  3. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I see what you mean, it probably won't lead to a massive increase but it should still be noticeable. Helpfully this is one of few stations on the line that is actually anywhere near it's namesake! And threw already talk of connecting bus services from Broadway station into the town centre. (someone mentioned a vintage bus at one point...)
     
  4. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    As Cotswold honeypots go, despite its rather romantic name, Honeybourne is more Vauxhall Conference than Premier League. (Indeed, it is perhaps significant that if you do a Google image search for "Honeybourne", most of the photos are of the station, rather than the village, which doesn't say much for the village itself!).

    Further south, Winchcombe is a fine village (nicer than Broadway, in my opinion) but a significant walk from its station. Cheltenham Racecourse isn't a destination except on race days, so the only reason for going for most people is for the journey itself.

    All of which suggests to me that there is a significant risk that, if you did open to Honeybourne, a significant number of people from the north may choose just to travel Honeybourne - Broadway as part of a longer day out, not bothering with the southern end of the line. You may find that you need to think of ticket prices carefully, probably making Honeybourne - Broadway return a significant fraction of an all-line rover; otherwise you might find that the extension doesn't necessarily translate into extra revenue. It's a lot of capital to spend just for a mainline connection. (The Broadway extension on the other hand is something of a no-brainer for me).

    Tom
     
  5. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    All this presupposes that passengers are just there to get from A to B, I would have thought the railway itself is probably a more significant attraction for most of them?
     
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  6. GeoffS75

    GeoffS75 New Member

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    If south is the preferred plan after Broadway then what is the purpose? Is it to restore the original formation for a connection at the remaining Cheltenham station where passengers can embark/disembark to a steam train (in which case as Alex has highlighted where is the car park space?) or is it to simply get a main line connection to open up race day traffic direct from Paddington etc? If just the latter then the costs of sticking in a short chord to close to Swindon village can't be far off those of reinstating bridges/embankment etc through town? Plus at Swindon if there was ever a desire for an interchange station/car parking there must be more potential.

    In either case though (or to Honeybourne for that matter) I really can't see the increase in traffic/business justifying the outlay. Definitely a nice to have (a rich benefactor was mentioned) then a must have.
     
  7. burnettsj

    burnettsj New Member

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    Indeed - on a nice day - the scenery both sides of the train is stunning.
     
  8. gwralatea

    gwralatea Member

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    I'm always in two minds about that to be honest. Chinnor seems to tick over ok going out to a run round loop and back again, but it'll be much better when we get to PR. However, going somewhere that bolts onto "the railway itself" is probably the optimum if you're trying to please the hypothetical family on a day out. If we take the line I grew up with and know best (SVR):
    - you've got enthusiasts there for the ride
    - you've got families out for a jolly

    In the first category, stick a pub on a couple of the stations, open the Engine House as a (poor man's) substitute for the fact that you can no longer wander round the shed at Bridgnorth, and interesting locomotives/rolling stock will take care of the rest
    In the second, I really can't emphasise enough how helpful it is to be able to market "you don't have to commit to going all the way to Bridgnorth - and if you do, then Bridgnorth is very nice for a wander around anyway"

    Over the full length of the line you go from somewhere to somewhere else. I grew up in Kidderminster, so can be totally objective about its value as a tourist destination (!), but most people get on there anyway... The fact that without going to Bridgnorth you can get off at Bewdley and visit the town, Arley and wander down to the pub by the river, or walk from Northwood to Arley, means that you're not just relying on the railway to be the day out by itself. Then there's the Cliff Railway, Dudmaston, Daniel's Mill, the Hampton Loade ferry.....

    The railway is the primary point, but it helps immensely that it's not the only point.

    On another note, I can well understand the lure of the extension to the enthusiast with the happy combination of long arms and deep pockets. In my dreams we go north of Bridgnorth, up to Newnham Bridge, and over to Burlish Crossing. However, in the cold light of day....
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
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  9. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    Thats a very good point actually, about just visiting the Northern stations and forgetting about the southern half. Particularly for people coming in via Honeybourne. Which might be even more significant if (or more likely when) Stratford ends up being reconnected.

    The best reason I can think of for the railway to reconnect at Cheltenham is that its a restatement of what the railway once was, a mainline to Cheltenham. Besides, I think people overlook the tourist potential of Cheltenham far too much. Particularly in light of how many Japanese tourists the North Cotswold line seem to be able to attract. If the Stratford on Avon reconnection ever comes to pass, there could be a tourist bonanza here for the GWSR to make use of.

    The only question to me remains whats the better option, either rebuilding the line to a terminus (or a mainline reconnection) in Cheltenham, which looks expensive and to me exceptionally contentious. Or the mooted plan from some time ago to put in a cutting from Racecourse station to the Midland line. Though one has to suggest, whatever is chose, one does not necessarily rule out the other at a later date.

    I think they have to do it.My own view is if they dont do the Cheltenham connection now, 10 years from now will probably make it impossible.
     
  10. GeoffS75

    GeoffS75 New Member

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    Despite the fact that I questioned the point of going southwards a few posts back, this is a very good point and may be why south is now back on the agenda rather than north. There is very unlikely to be any development on the trackbed between Broadway and Honeybourne as it is all open country pretty much. The same cannot be said for going south which is distinctly built up already.

    This site https://www.flickr.com/photos/73536293@N02/sets/ shows the condition of the trackbed in both directions.
     
  11. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Was there not some issue with Sustrans having title to the trackbed north of Broadway and threatening to block rail reinstatement by creating a 'meandering' cycle track? (Or is that problem now resolved?)
     
  12. Kinghambranch

    Kinghambranch Well-Known Member

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    Like I've said in a much earlier post, the time to do this was back in the late 1970s when the line formation was intact. It is already far too late for Cheltenham south of Hunting Butts Tunnel and anywhere north of Long Marston to Stratford (Unless a massive Govt-funded scheme was to magically appear). Historical context is important. The GWSR pioneers did what they could with what they had and they didn't get overwhelming support when they started either. Most people looking in at what was then a new upstart railway in the early 80s took the view that it would never reach Winchcombe let alone Cheltenham Race Course or Broadway.
    I understand that the addition of Broadway to the GWSR portfolio of "industrial strength" country railway nostalgia experience, although requiring £2million of investment, should swiftly result in a 20% increase in trade. Honeybourne (which is much larger - now 1600 - than the 2 small villages of Church Honeybourne and Cow Honeybourne were when the line closed in 1976) is a different proposition but it was always the intention of the GWSR to get there if possible. Other posters have already indicated that the trackbed twixt Honeybourne and Broadway is reasonably clear. The owners of this stretch are, I believe, Warwickshire Council but readers may wish to confirm this. The current situation regarding use of the Honeybourne-Broadway trackbed by Sustrans is not known to me but there have been mutual agreements on other lines in the UK and the GWSR is a double-track formation which might be a blessing in this case.
     
  13. John Stewart

    John Stewart Well-Known Member

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    Looking at the obvious expensive obstacles in the Cheltenham built-up area, it would seem to me that Cheltenham is nearer and dearer and Honeybourne further and cheaper. Perhaps Honeybourne's attractiveness would rise if the line from Long Marston to Stratford is rebuilt.
     
  14. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    Id not heard that, but I cant imagine it would last long if they did. Supposedly (I may have read this in a railway magazine so Im unsure of the veracity of it) Cheltenham racecourse was to put money into the railway to try to make access to Honeybourne and the national network quicker. Which if true one has to compare the commercial interests with sustrans and that of one of the areas greatest commercial interests, ie the Racecourse. I cant see they would get far being so obstructive. It suits no one to behave like that.

    That said, one has to ask what suits the interest of Cheltenham racecourse better, being connected to the network via what will be over 12 miles of track at a 25mph speed limit, or via the national network (midland line) via less than a mile of newtrack. For the Racecourse and the GWR, if you want a swift connection to the national network, it looks a no brainer. Not exactly the cheap option though Im sure.
     
  15. Stuart666

    Stuart666 New Member

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    It depends on the circumstances. It was only 2 years ago Cheltenham council was exploring the idea (im not sure how seriously) of using the extant trackbed south of cheltenham racecourse as part of a light rail/tram scheme. Now in the present financially strapped times im sure thats a non starter, but its an interesting idea that if they replaced some of the bridges and cuttings to develop it, and gave provision to another line to the GWR, there may be potential there in the future. Assuming of course in the interim there is anything of the old formation left.

    I have to agree however, the more I look at it the chances of getting a mainline connection at Lansdown junction look increasingly remote. I think the best that can be hoped for in that direction is getting back to Cheltenham high street, which would im sure be popular if an operationally awkward place to terminate the line.
     
  16. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    A lot would depend on how urgent Cheltenham race course would like a better way to get their customers in , if they view it to have a strong business case
    then it could happen with their help sooner, than later, but in what direction, a shorter route would be towards Lansdown Junction, if the formation is undamaged, or enough space remains for a single line. that would enable tour firms to run race day specials from london, where i asume the market would be from,
     
  17. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    One point that hasn't been made in the recent flurry of postings (though possibly somewhere back up thread) is the potential of Broadway as a source of traffic: people visiting Broadway for other reasons are possible customers for a return trip on the railway, just for the ride, more so than at present when they need to drive further south to reach it.

    As for Honeybourne: clearly the expense of the extension could only be justified by a substantial amount of additional traffic. If and when that extension is achieved, what about timetabled connections there with service trains, allowing a day out by train including a visit to Broadway or elsewhere on the line?

    But this thread is supposed to be about Cheltenham. A chord from the main line north of the town across the fields to Racecourse station is certainly possible, if someone can be found to pay for it. It would seem highly desirable to get the Council to reserve the route, before anything gets built there.
     
  18. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    If I said to SWMBO let's go for a ride on the NYMR or let's go for a ride on the KWVR, she would say no. If I said, let's go to Whitby; we can leave the car at Pickering and take the train or let's go to Haworth, we can catch the train to Keighley and the KWVR up to Haworth, she would say yes. We've done such on several occasions recently. There are probably more people out there who would combine rail and destination (and pay a bit more for the experience) than there are who would simply visit for a ride on the railway.
    In the heritage railway game, the hierarchy is:
    Somewhere to somewhere, Gives the best of all.
    Nowhere to somewhere. It can provide a multi facet day out.! Providing its in the right direction to serve its potential passenger base! As I said earlier, going past somewhere to travel back isn't a good incentive to do so.
    Somewhere to nowhere. Gives an 'attraction' for those already there and looking for something to do but you still need to be attracted to it alone.
    Nowhere to nowhere. Really, it's just the railway itself that is the attraction.
     
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  19. std tank

    std tank Member

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    Of course, Broadway will be a massive source of passengers for the railway. It is a very popular destination for tourists in its own right, with something like 15 hotels in the area.
     
  20. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    I appreciate that it is not the same situation with every railway; some will be attractions in their own right, others will attract visitors who were in the area anyway, most will do both.
    There are some pretty successful railways in areas that you would not immediately associate with leisure visiting per se.
     

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