The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Cirencester Community Railway

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

It is also one of only a few of these projects, that has a very detailed plan.

  • The plan has been written to the sort of standards, that would be expected of competent professionals from one of the large international rail consultancies.
  • The plan is explained in detail on a comprehensive web site.
  • The authors seem to have knowledge of recent developments in rail technology.

After a visit to Cirencester in November 2019, I wrote Could Cirencester Be Reconnected To The Rail Network?, which I started with this paragraph.

In Boris Johnson Vows New Life For High Streets And Axed Rail Lines, I laid out a list of rail lines that could be reopened by a future Conservative government.

Today, I’m going to Cirencester to have lunch with an old friend.

But, Cirencester does not have a rail connection, although there used to be a Cirencester branch line from Kemble station.

This was my conclusion.

With some clever and sympathetic engineering on the branch to handle the crossings, it could be a feasible reopening.

I also felt that a tram-train with batteries, could serve a two trains per hour (tph) service between Swindon and Cirencester via Kemble.

These are some details from the Cirencester Community Railway (CCR) plan.

The Route

In my post, I thought the last part of the route into Cirencester could be a problem.

The authors of the scheme have come up with an elegant solution.

  • Between Kemble station and Parklease Farm, the route follows the previous route.
  • Between Parklease Farm and the A433 Tetbury Road, the route runs North-South, possible along the route of an existing track.
  • The route then follows the A433 into the town.

It is simple and there won’t be much major construction.

  • A new bridge over the A429 will be needed.
  • The track will need to cross the A433 on the level. It appears that this could be fitted in with major works to provide access to a new housing development.

All of the construction needed is laid out in the CCR report.

Single Or Double Track?

The report says that it will be built single track, which should be sufficient. Although there may be a need for a passing place around halfway to allow a more frequent service.

The Stations

Before detailing the stations, I will show this Google Map, which shows the route of the A433 Tetbury Road into Cirencester.


  1. The A 433 running SW-NE across the map.
  2. The Royal Agricultural University towards the West of the map.
  3. Cirencester College to the North-East of the University.
  4. The red arrow in the North-East corner of the map, which marks the Old Station Car Park.

The design envisages the following stations.

Parklease Farm

This station could be added, where the track changes direction, when it leaves the old route. It lies to the South of the Royal Agricultural University and off the map above.

It would probably be by request.

The University Station

This would be the main station on the route.

  • It would serve the Royal Agricultural University.
  • It would act as a Park-and-Ride station, with a large car park.
  • Overnight stabling for the trains could be provided here.

If a passing loop is needed it could be added at this station.

The College Halt

This would be  to the East of the roundabout on the map and would serve Cirencester College.

The Town Halt

This would be on the edge of the town centre, by the Old Station Car Park.

The Vehicles

The plan envisages using Very Light Rail vehicles.

  • If these run on concrete tracks, as the report indicates, then effectively this means the the CCR will be separate from the UK rail network and through running will not be possible.
  • In my post, I proposed battery tram-trains as these would allow extra local services between Kemble and Swindon, which might be needed if there was substantial housing development in the area.
  • But then I like tram-trains and felt they would be a way to get to the centre of Cirencester. But the CCR’s route avoids the need for tram-trains.

I also wonder, if Very Light Rail would offer enough capacity. But it could probably offer a higher frequency easier than heavy rail.

Service Frequency

Nothing is said in the CCR report about service frequency.

As the University station doubles as a Park-and-Ride for the town, I think the frequency between the University station and the Town halt should be at least four tph.

Would this frequency apply to the whole of the CCR?

Great Western Railway’s Attitude

I can’t speak for Great Western Railway (GWR), but surely they would hope that the CCR would bring them a large number of passengers..

Currently, there is a two tph service between Swindon and Cheltenham through Kemble! Will this provide a good connection with the Cirencester service? Or will passengers find that they waste thirty minutes waiting for trains.

This was one of the reasons, I proposed tram-trains in my original post.

But this would not be a problem unique to the CCR, as the GWR has several branch lines with a similar problem.

So will GWR develop a company-wide solution to feed passengers in from branch lines?


The CCR have produced a well-thought out and detailed plan, but I think it can be improved. Especially, if GWR develop a company-wide solution for branch lines.

July 21, 2020 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , ,


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