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GWSR General Discussion and Operations

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by michaelh, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

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    Kidderminster is a starting point not a destination (something our management would do good to remember).
    Bar the mainline connection, what benefits does extension to Honeybourne give the GWSR? I'm going to make reference to the SVR here partly because people keeping bring it up.
    Honeybourne is not a large place at all (1,617 at the 2001 census so probably 2000 ish now compared to Kidderminster which is 55,000). Thus gain of 'local' passengers wouldn't be that large.
    Is it any easier to get to Honeybourne over Broadway/Toddington? Google maps reckons not when coming by road from my way, other directions maybe different. Service on the Cotswold line is variable. New station with a large car park would be useful though.
    Would it be feasible to use the space at Honeybourne to improve the GWSR facilitates? Extension to Kidderminster has allowed a large carriage works, a very large carriage shed, a diesel shed and a turntable.
     
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  2. toplight

    toplight Well-Known Member

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    I agree with any railway thinking of extending, it is now or never, The more years that pass, the more likely something gets built which severs or alters the trackbed. The GWSR are lucky that there is still the possibility at all.

    It only needs one big obstacle and it can kill any potential extension scheme pretty much dead. The general public who are often making decisions don't necessarily give a damn that there was once a railway in a particular location. They are not sentimental about it especially if an alternative use can look to be of benefit and may not be even aware of the possibility of putting the railway back. Often schemes like the bridge being filled in in Cumbria can suddenly start happening that few are aware of in advance.

    If the GWSR could even just get control of the trackbed to Honeybourne it gives options for the future. They don't necessarily need to start extending straight away, just like they owned Racecourse to Broadway for many years before they actually relayed the whole section. It would make sense to finish Broadway station first.

    As for people arriving by modern train and then taking the ride by steam train, I am not convinced that happens that much. I think most visitors still arrive by car and always will but even if just a few extra arrive by modern train, its better than none.
     
  3. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

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    From my experience at Kidderminster, in normal times ca. 15-20% will be from the mainline. There was always a noticeable surge in passengers just after a train from Brum had arrived. However, Kidderminster is within easy reach of Birmingham/the Black Country, Honeybourne is more isolated.
     
  4. D1002

    D1002 Part of the furniture

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    The jewel in the crown is, of course, Stratford-upon-Avon a mega tourist attraction with Network Rail access.
    Would make the GWSR one of the longest Heritage Railways in the country, probably the longest, so may have to operate as two sections, Stratford to Honeybourne and Honeybourne to Broadway.
    The ticket office at SOA would have to adapt to accept dollars from all the American tourists. May be a problem for the enthusiasts who insist on authenticity;).
     
  5. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Nat Pres stalwart

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    And also the most bankrupt!
     
  6. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    It would then a possibility that the G&WSR would run into financial difficulty and it could revert to the national system.
     
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  7. D1002

    D1002 Part of the furniture

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    I was merely offering an opinion.
    I see absolutely no point in extending the line to Honeybourne. There’s nothing there apart from the Domestic Fowl Trust and a Pottery. SOA would be a serious destination.
     
  8. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I’m sure we’ve been through this before … https://www.national-preservation.com/threads/gwsr-cheltenham-spa-and-possible-extensions.35999/

    I tend to agree with @flying scotsman123 that if the GWSR did extend to Honeybourne, you’d likely get two traffic flows to Broadway from either end, with relatively few doing the whole journey. At a minimum that would make ticket pricing … interesting.

    I think the strategic problem of a Cheltenham Racecourse - Honeybourne line is that neither destination is worth a stop, and the journey is very long between them. If you start at CRC, what do you do when you get to Honeybourne? Get back on and come straight back? Most people will quickly realise Broadway makes a better journey. It’s a very different prospect to, say, the WSR which has a viable destination at one end of the line. Not that the WSR is a shining example of the economic viability of a 20 mile heritage line.

    The Cotswolds has many glorious villages, but Honeybourne isn’t one that immediately springs to mind. A Google image search for “Broadway Cotswolds/ and “Honeybourne” is instructive - which looks more enticing to break a journey?

    Tom
     
  9. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure if it's even worth considering the option of reaching somewhere like Honeybourne by car- whilst not quite a Verney Junction, its getting on that way. Apart from people who live and work locally, its primary function would be a railhead, pure and simple.
    Thinking purely from a personal perspective, from where I live, to the GWSR is a schlep by road, and the principal reason ive only visited twice (sorry), when I've been up that way.
    But the idea of being just 55 minutes (sorry- 90!) from Paddington, cross-platform interchange, makes it a far more attractive proposition.
    Obviously, the downside of taking on the liability for 5 miles of infrastructure is onerous. I agree with others- it is a now or never situation, but one which would require very astute handling. I do like the idea of spreading the responsibility with the local authorities, if they could be brought round to such an agreement, (eg. leasehold), because looking at the situation with Stanton bridge is very sobering.
    This really does require the judgement of Solomon.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2021
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  10. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    55 minutes Paddington to Honeybourne? Which trains are you catching?! Hour and three quarters more like.

    Tom
     
  11. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

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    Oxford-Honeybourne is ca. 45 mins.
     
  12. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    My mistake. 90 minutes, which I read and remembered as 55, for some reason. Duh.
    Nonetheless, an hour and a half is hardly the Boondacks:) I'll just amend that.
     
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  13. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Part of the furniture

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    For what it is worth, the North Cotswold Line Task force under Richard Faulkner are about to get to the develop stage of an Outline Business Case (budget for the work £2.9 million) for the necessary improvements to create a half hourly service on the Cotswold Line.

    I agree that there is no need to start extending immediately - however, there is the cost of inheriting the bridges, so it becomes a dead weight, but on the other hand, how likely is the opportunity to come up again?

    My recollection is that the train is used by tourists to access the Cotswolds. Not necessarily huge numbers but plenty of walkers.

    The Moreton in Marsh 'transport hub' (don't laugh) includes a new 50 space car park. But it is a good example of council, railway, local pressure groups and the bus companies coming together.


    Those are dubious arguments.

    Doesn't seem to harm the Ffestiniog/WHR that people take several different journeys from different starting points to different end points giving you different traffic flows - I think someone identified multiple traffic flows there. Does everyone on the NYMR do Pickering - Whitby only and nothing in between? Strange that in pre-covid times they are running a mix of shuttles, through trains and trains that go Pickering-Grosmont. Neither of those lines seem to find pricing very difficult.

    Just like you don't break your journey in Kidderminster but you do at Highley or Arley, why wouldn't you break your journey at Broadway?

    I agree entirely with this. The roads north of Oxford really are a black hole and just make it too far to get to.

    The deal breaker really needs to be the bridges and the costs associated with maintaining them and if they are going to become a millstone around the GWSR's neck more than whether Honeybourne is or is not going to result in more passengers.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2021
  14. Biermeister

    Biermeister New Member

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    Thanks Jo for providing such relevant detailed local information, but who is currently responsible for these bridges? Is it Railway Paths Limited (RPL)? If so, how is it that they have been permitted to allow these bridges to deteriorate to the point where, if I assume correctly, significant sums will be required to restore them to both road and railway use? Do you think perhaps that is that why they are seeking to relieve themselves of this burden? In such circumstances it seems unlikely that any prudent local authority would seek to take over the responsibility...
    All of which is not good music to the ears of the GWSR community. A deep-pocketed benefactor seems to be required.
     
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  15. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Quite so. Perhaps some kind of public/ private sector partnership to spread the liability.
    Incidentally, I love your avatar- as a youngster I was weaned on Harvey's ales, and they're still my favourite brewer!
     
  16. Biermeister

    Biermeister New Member

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    I've been thinking about the chat concerning the lack of a market for the GWSR at Honeybourne and related matters.
    Obviously Honeybourne will not be a generator of travel but rather a facilitator of travel. Examples of heritage rail connections abound as has been mentioned, eg NYMR, Bluebell Railway (and hopefully K&ESR...) It requires some careful research looking at figures for extra travel generated by a mainline connection (rather than guestimates from such as us). Manchester Metropolitan University have produced a detailed forecast for likely travel benefits of connecting the K&ESR to Robertsbridge. GWSR might well consider a careful BC analysis so as to clearly enable formulation of its path forward (northward?) or not.

    Meanwhile, GWSR might well consider how best to market its wares. Broadway is an obvious attractor and so too should be Winchcombe. See the following current article in the Guardian on-line: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/...he-cotswolds-from-winchcombe-our-village-base
    What I am suggesting is a careful marketing plan with brochures, booklets, website, information kiosks at stations and synergies with local tourist operators and bus companies. For instance, I arrive at Broadway and want to visit Broadway Tower and Snowshill Manor (and if I don't it may only be because I don't know that they exist!). I might want to have lunch at the Snowshill Arms where I will learn of Donnington Ales and its fabulous brewery and the walking tour of its sixteen pubs, or I might want to visit the Cotswold Falconry, but I need direction to know of all these things, and I need to be able to get to them if I arrived on foot. As for walking I might need pointing in the direction of good pubs and B&Bs. The railway must grasp all this head on. It is not enough to have railway volunteers who just like steam engines and want to see and hear them puffing along the Cotswolds edge!! (I am not having a go here rather I am pleading for a broader perspective.) A Marketing Manager should be on to all these things.

    The railway is a ribbon linking communities and that which they can offer visitors: it surely is in the interests of the railway to communicate this as well as it possibly can.

    The GWSR has achieved miracles in what it has achieved and everyone involved should feel pride in those achievements. Nevertheless, the GWSR management, in my opinion, should be less opaque and better communicate its intentions for the future of the railway and all the communities it serves.

    Thanks for the comment Mark. Perhaps we could better communicate outside the blog concerning Harvey's et al?
     
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  17. Leafent

    Leafent New Member

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    If the GWSR really wanted a mainline connection, hasn't been suggested they build a greenfield line from Cheltenham Racecourse to a point just north of Cheltenham, and join up with the mainline there.
     
  18. MellishR

    MellishR Part of the furniture Friend

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    It's not too hard to survey passengers to find out how they arrived at their starting point on the railway, and you can try to find out what they might do if the main line connection at Honeybourne is ever achieved. It's much harder to find out about the potential passengers who have not come but would if a main line connection existed.

    I have visited the GWSR only once, when one option on a UK Railtours trip was a coach connection from Evesham. I have visited the SVR three times: twice on through railtours to Bridgnorth and once by service trains to Kidderminster, so all three times because of the main line connection.
     
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  19. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    The NYMR does have a main line connection but I bet the number of passengers using it to access the railway is minimal. My guess would be less than a dozen people each day at the busiest of times and probably zero on some days.
    The Bluebell may have benefited from the East Grinstead connection but my impression is that there are significantly more people who do not use cars as there primary means of transport in London and the south than there are in the Midlands and the North. Certainly, if I am going somewhere, I rarely think of using public transport, even though bus travel is free for me. I doubt that a main line connection is little other than a nice to have. Having said that, any business cannot afford to stand still and must always have a goal to aim for and extending railways are good for that purpose, as long as the figures can stack up at the end of the day. The additional infrastructure liability is the greatest worry but if that can be offloaded in some way, that would be good. Councils have been known to take on road bridges on occasion.
     
  20. Kje7812

    Kje7812 Member

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    I suspect it's because this is a railway forum that we get hung up on mainline connections, but yes the vast majority of the passengers will be by car.
     

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