The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Reopening Stratford-upon-Avon And Honeybourne-Worcester/Oxford (SWO) Railway Line

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

I covered this route in RSC Urges GWR To Provide Stratford Improvements and came to these conclusions.

There are three ways to improve rail access to Stratford-upon-Avon.

    • The relatively easy and quick, enhancement of the rail services in Warwickshire.
    • Provide better one-change routes using Chiltern Railways.
    • The more difficult re-connection of Stratford to the Cotswold Line at Honeybourne.

As the last project will take years to implement, I feel, it is important that services to Stratford from Birmingham, Coventry, Leamington Spa and the West Midlands are substantially increased.

I also believe that the responsibility of providing a local service between Leamigton Spa and Stratford should be given to West Midlands Trains.

The Case To Reconnect Stratford-on-Avon and Honeybourne Stations

In Where Is London Midland Going?, I wrote this section in July 2017.

The North Warwickshire Line

The North Warwickshire Line links Birmingham with Stratford-on-Avon and has an alternative name of the Shakespeare Line.

Plans exist to extend this line South to Honeybourne station on the Cotswold Line.

Under Possible Future Development in the Wikipedia entry for the Warwickshire Line, this is said.

The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group is promoting a scheme to reopen the 9 miles (14 km) of line south of Stratford to Honeybourne where it would link to the Cotswold Line. Called the “Avon Rail Link”, the scheme (supported as a freight diversionary route by DB Schenker) would make Stratford-upon-Avon station a through station once again with improved connections to the South, and would open up the possibility of direct services to Oxford and Worcester via Evesham. The scheme faces local opposition. However, there is a good business case for Stratford-Cotswolds link.

I think we’ll see something in the new franchise about developing this line, as there is a lot of potential for a train operator.

    • Direct services between Stratford-on-Avon and Oxford, where there is a connection to Bicester Village. Tourists would love that!
    • Connection of the housing development at Long Marston to Birmingham.
    • Could Stratford-on-Avon or Honeybourne become the terminus of a service from Leamington, Coventry and Nuneaton?

It would also give DB Schenker, their freight diversion.

But we didn’t see anything in the new franchise and the project has turned up in the list of Beeching Reversal projects.

The Route Into Stratford-Upon-Avon

This Google Map shows Stratford-upon-Avon station.


  1. The station is well-appointed with step-free access and three platforms.
  2. The bridge at the Southern end of the station to allow the railway to go South, appears to be intact.

This second Google Map shows the area of the town from the station to the racecourse.


  1. Stratford-upon-Avon station at the top of the map.
  2. Stratford Racecourse at the bottom of the map.

The road curving between the station and the racecourse is the track of the former Stratford to Honeybourne railway.

My first reaction, when I saw this was that those, who want to rebuild this railway can’t be serious.

  • Would you want one of DB Schenker’s noisy, smelly and polluting Class 66 locomotives running past your house?
  • Would you want the line to be electrified, so they could use electric locomotives on this short stretch of railway? If so would DB Schenker be happy to change locomotives twice?

I have looked at new railways entering towns and cities all over the UK and Europe and feel there is only two possible solutions for Southern access to Stratford-upon-Avon station.

  • A single-track passenger-only railway run by battery electric trains.
  • A tunnel, which would probably be single-bore for cost reasons.

South of Stratford, the route is easier and it can be picked out on Google Maps until it reaches the Cotswold Line to the East of Honeybourne station.

This Google Map shows Honeybourne station and the junction.


  1. The Cotswold Line running NW-SE across the map.
  2. The large triangular junction that connected the line to Stratford-upon-Avon station, which is to the North-East.
  3. Another track going South from the junction, can be picked out. This leads to the heritage Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway at Broadway station, with onward connections to Cheltenham Racecourse.

Honeybourne station could be an important rail hub.

Honeybourne Station And Battery Electric Trains


  • Hereford and Honeybourne stations are 48 miles apart.
  • Didcot East Junction, where trains switch to and from the Great Western Main Line electrification and Honeybourne stations are 48 miles apart.
  • Trains to Hereford pass through Great Malvern, Worcestershire Parkway and Worcester Foregate Street.
  • Stratford-up-on-Avon and Honeybourne stations would be less than thirty miles apart, if the two stations were to be reconnected by rail.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery electric trains will have a range of 56 miles on battery power.

If the means to charge battery electric trains were provided in the Honeybourne area, the following services could be run by battery electric trains.

  • London Paddington and Worcestershire Parkway, Worcester Foregate Street, Great Malvern and Hereford.
  • Honeybourne and Stratford-upon-Avon

The charging could be performed, by a ten minute stop at Honeybourne station or a section of electrified line centred on the station.

The two stations either side of Honeybourne are Evesham and Moreton-in-Marsh.

  • They are fifteen miles apart.
  • Trains take eighteen minutes between the stations.
  • This would be enough time to charge the batteries.
  • Trains could pan-up and pan-down in the two stations.

I believe modern low-visibility overhead electrification could be used.

See Prototype Overhead Line Structure Revealed for more details on these gantries.

An Oxford And Stratford-upon-Avon Service

My estimates for the timings of the two sections of the route are as follows.

  • Stratford-upon-Avon and Honeybourne – 20 minutes
  • Honeybourne and Oxford – 46 minutes

Perhaps not the best for an efficient services, but I’m sure something could be arranged.


This will be a difficult project to get built.

If it is built, I suspect, it will be a passenger-only route using battery trains.



July 20, 2020 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. […] Reopening Stratford-upon-Avon to Honeybourne-Worcester/Oxford (SWO) Railway Line More stopping services at Radcliffe-on-Trent and Bottesford stations on the Poacher line between Grantham and Nottingham Increased services to Nottingham and Leicester, via Syston and Loughborough from Melton Mowbray Reconnecting Ashfield Communities through the Maid Marian Line […]

    Pingback by Beeching Reversal: Fifty Disused Rail Lines On Track To Reopen « The Anonymous Widower | July 20, 2020 | Reply

  2. A GRIP3 study by Arup in 2012, confirmed that reinstatement was physically possible and viable, with a BCR of 2.03. A trench would be constructed between Stratford Station and Stratford Racecourse to avoid the need for the Evesham Place level crossing. The route is NOT intended for container freight trains. Chipping Campden tunnel is not gauge cleared and the Cotswold Line gradients and north of Stratford are not suitable for freight trains. The 9 miles between Stratford-Honeybourne, used to take 11-12 minutes in the 1968 B.R timetable. Hourly Stratford-Oxford, Stratford-Worcester services are envisaged. Battery or hydrogen train would not be suitable for inter-regional services.

    Click to access ED478%20Stratford%20to%20Honeybourne%20Railway%20Reinstatement%20Sept%202012.pdf

    Comment by John Morgan | August 24, 2020 | Reply

    • Thanks for that!

      I disagree about battery trains, as I believe that we ain’t seen nothing yet!

      I’m getting more suspicious of hydrogen for passenger trains on the UK gauge, as the tanks are so big.

      Comment by AnonW | August 24, 2020 | Reply

  3. […] See Beeching Reversal – Reopening Stratford-upon-Avon And Honeybourne-Worcester/Oxford (SWO) Railway L… […]

    Pingback by Restoring Your Railway: Successful Bids « The Anonymous Widower | December 10, 2020 | Reply

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