The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Mid-Cornwall Metro

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

This is a strange project, as I can’t find a detailed description of what it entails.

All I can think, is that it is a general project to run all the local lines in Cornwall as a unified whole.

Great Western Railway runs these services in Cornwall.

  • Cornish Main Line – London Paddington and Penzance – One train per two hours (tp2h) – Calling at Plymouth, Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne and St Erth
  • Cornish Main Line – Exeter St. Davids and Penzance – One train per hour (tph) – Calling at Newton Abbot, Totnes, Ivybridge, Plymouth, Devonport, Dockyard, Keyham, St Budeaux Ferry Road, Saltash, St Germans, Menheniot, Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne, Hayle and St Erth
  • Looe Valley Line – Liskeard and Looe – One tph – Calling at Coombe Junction Halt, St Keyne Wishing, Well Halt, Causeland and Sandplace.
  • Atlantic Coast Line – Par and Newquay – One tp2h – Calling at Luxulyan, Bugle, Roche, St Columb Road and Quintrell Downs
  • Maritime Line – Truro and Falmouth Docks – Two tph – Calling at Perranwell (1tph), Penryn, Penmere and Falmouth Town
  • St. Ives Bay Line – St. Erth and St. Ives – Two tph – Calling at Lelant Saltings, Lelant and Carbis Bay

Could frequencies and connectivities be improved?

Other Beeching Reversal projects are also aiming to improve the railways in Cornwall.

Transforming the Newquay Line
Reinstatement of Bodmin-Wadebridge Railway and associated works
Increased service provision Bodmin General-Bodmin Parkway

I think the first might increase frequencies on the Newquay to one tph or even two tph and the Bodmin General station improvements should create a useful new platform.

Wikipedia mentions this project.

Reopening The Lostwithiel And Fowey Railway To Passengers

Are there any other lines, stations or platforms, that could be reopened, given a passenger service or or an increase in frequency?

Conclusion

Someone must have a plan somewhere! So can they please disclose it?

 

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Light Railway Extension To The Barnstaple Branch (Chivenor Braunton) “TawLink”

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

This is an unusual project for two reasons.

  • It is based on light railway or tram technology.
  • The case for the extension is fully set out in the Taw Link web site.

None of the other projects, that I have documented have such a comprehensive statement of their case for acceptance.

The Introduction

This is taken from the home page of their web site.

Combe Rail CIO is proposing a modern, light railway between Barnstaple and Braunton. The North Devon Local Plan already urges the protection of former railway routes, to allow for future re-instatement. This former railway route is 98% intact, with sufficient width to accommodate a new single-track railway line alongside the Tarka Trail and South West Coast Path.

It’s now accepted that new and re-opened railways unlock economic growth. The success of the Borders Railway in Scotland is a spectacular example of this. The challenge of North Devon’s ever-growing population demands similar, forward-looking infrastructure planning.

Some of the other projects, that I have documented, could do with such a clear Statement of Intent.

The Route

This graphic from the Route page on web site shows the route.

And this Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Braunton is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Barstaple is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The River Taw runs East-West across the map.
  4. The runways of the former RAF Chivenor, which is now a Royal Marine Base, can be found.

If you enlarge the map by clicking on it, many of the stations on the TawLink can be picked out.

This paragraph from the Route page describes the route.

Starting from Caen Street in Braunton, it will run tramway-style along Station Road, and then use the old railway formation all the way to the Civic Centre car park in Barnstaple. It will then street-run past the front of the former Town Station and along Castle Street to The Strand in the heart of Barnstaple. There are two options for crossing the river Taw – either to street-run along Long Bridge, or to share the proposed reinstated (former railway) bridge. The line will then street-run along Stickelpath Terrace to re-connect to the National Rail Network at Barnstaple (Mainline.) Intermediate stations will be provided at Velator, Wrafton (for Perrigo),  Chivenor (Business Park and The Landings), Ashford (Garden Centre and Braunton Inn) Pottington (Business Park) and Barnstaple Park-and-Ride (near the A39 downstream bridge – which could potentially have a huge catchment area.)

As the proposals for the Reinstatement Of The Bodmin-Wadebridge Railway, are doing, these proposals are replacing a walking and cycle path with a walking/cycling/single-track rail route.

This pair of South-West proposals could set an important design precedent, that can be applied in other places across the UK.

Are These Two Routes Substantially Level?

Thinking about this similar design, were the two original rail routes built as level as possible, so they are now easy walking and cycling routes?

I suspect, that there’s only a couple of metres difference between the two ends of this route at Barnstaple. So it could be the case here!

If thar is the case, it would mean that less energy would be needed to travel the route!

The Trams

This paragraph from the Trams page on the web site describes the trams.

This will be a modern community- and commuter railway, which will run throughout the year. Its scenic location will also make it highly attractive to tourists. It will use lightweight, battery-electric vehicles – like traditional trams, but without the overhead wires – capable of running safely on-road, and quickly off-road. These vehicles are environmentally-friendly, and very quiet. Visually, and in terms of infrastructure, the railway will be low-impact.

I have liked the concept of coastal trams, even since I rode in the one along the Belgian coast, which I wrote about in Riding The Coast Tram.

A Level Route Would Be Beneficial

If I am right about the level nature of the route, this would mean smaller and lighter batteries would be needed to power the trams.

Through-Running

I suspect through-running would not be possible, unless the Tarka Line between Exeter and Barnstaple is electrified, as it is a rather challenging route for a light rail vehicle.

The vehicles also don’t probably have enough capacity, for what can be a busy route in the Peak.

Conclusion

I like this proposal and I have a feeling it will be imitated in the future.

 

 

 

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Project Wareham – Complete The Link

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

A Visit To The Swanage Railway describes an enjoyable visit I made to the Swanage Railway, just after the first part of Project Wareham had been completed.

This was my conclusion in that post.

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I suspect that if South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway got into serious discussion, there will be a solution, that would be beneficial to both parties and all those who live and work in or visit Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck.

This page on the Swanage Railway web site describes the project.

Completing Project Wareham

I can find very little on the Internet about what is proposed in the completion of this project.

So perhaps, the proposal is to start a project to see what could be developed on the Swanage Railway to the benefit of residents, commuters and visitors.

Hourly Trains

From a railway point of view, I suspect the most important thing, is to make it possible for an hourly train to connect from the Swanage Railway to the South Western Main Line.

This would enable the following.

  • Residents along the route to commute to or go shopping in Poole and Bournemouth.
  • Better public transport connections to the local councils at Dorchester and Warham.
  • Better visitor access to the Isle of Purbreck and especially the Swanage Railway.
  • Development of some possible housing and industrial sites.

There could be a lot of beneficiaries.

What Trains Would Be Used?

The Swanage Railway seem to be proposing running heritage diesel multiple units on connecting services. They have a Class 117 train and a Class 121 train, that were built around 1960, that have been fully-refurbished for the service.

These would be fine for the service and I suspect to cut emissions, they could be run on biodiesel.

I also think that if the service was successful, that more trains would be needed.

Consider.

  • The South Western Main Line is fully-electrified.
  • The Swanage Railway is only 5.5 miles long.
  • South Western Railway probably want to go to an all-electric fleet.
  • Battery electric train technology is improving rapidly.
  • South Western Railway will probably be running battery electric trains on other services in their network.

I believe that South Western Railway could connect Wareham and Swanage with a battery electric train charged on the main line.

I’m sure that Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens or Stadler, would be able to supply a suitable battery electric train to replace the company’s Class 158 and Class 159 diesel multiple units.

Where Would The Trains Run?

Consider.

  • The obvious route is between Wareham and Swanage, but as I showed in A Visit To The Swanage Railway, the timings might not be friendly to an hourly shuttle.
  • Changing trains is something that discourages regular passengers.
  • I believe a service to Poole or Bournemouth may be more attractive to passengers.
  • Some passengers might even like the occasional service to London.

I can see an innovative timetable being developed containing elements like these.

  • One train per two hours (tp2h) between Swanage and Wareham, run by the Swanage Railway. using a heritage diesel multiple unit.
  • One tp2h between Swanage and Poole or Bournemouth via Wareham, run by South Western Railway, using a modern battery electric multiple unit.
  • Some services might extend past Bournemouth to Southampton or Salisbury.
  • Early morning and late night services between Swanage and Bournemouth.
  • At least one train per day in both directions between Swanage and London Waterloo.
  • Services would be seven days per week.

I believe that the more comprehensive the service, the more it will be used.

Conclusion

After my visit in November 2018, I said this.

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I stand by what I said and feel that comprehensive services between Swanage and Wareham can be developed for the benefit of residents, travellers and train companies.

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Shepton Mallet (Mendip Vale)

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

This article on Rail Technology News is entitled Shepton Mallet Railway Station And Services Could Be Restored Under New Vision.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

National rail services could be restored to a Somerset town after the local authority unveiled a new vision for the rail route.

Shepton Mallet’s current nearest mainline station is Castle Cary which is over seven miles away, but new stations and a bypass have been proposed in a business case from Mendip District Council for major new transport projects.

In the Wikipedia entry for the East Somerset Railway, this is said.

On 25 March 2007, the East Somerset Railway announced that it had received a £7,500 grant from Shepton 21 Group, a local organisation, set up to regenerate the area around Shepton Mallet. The money was to be spent on conducting a feasibility study into extending the line towards Shepton Mallet, with a possible new terminus at Cannards Grave, on the outskirts of Shepton Mallet

This Google Map shows the South-Eastern edge of Shepton Mallet.

Note.

  1. The scar of the disused railway passing East-West through the town.
  2. Mendip Vale station on the East Somerset Railway on the Eastern side of the map.
  3. The Cannard’s Grave area of the town, with what appears to be a new road system.

Would it be possible to extend the East Somerset Railway to a new Parkway station in the Cannard’s Grave area?

It certainly looks the most likely plan.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the route of the railway.

The railway may be only 2.5 miles long, but it does provide a connection for the important Merehead Quarry to the UK rail network.

The tracks to the Quarry and Shepton Mallet join up to the South West of the quarry before joining the Heart of Wessex Line, that connects Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth stations via Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury, Frome. Castle Cary and Yeovil.

Passenger Train Services

This Google Map shows East Somerset Junction, where the branch line joins the Heart of Wessex Line.

Note.

  1. Frome, Westbury, Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads are to the North East.
  2. The double-track railway going South-West is the Heart of Wessex Line to Castle Cary, Yeovil and Weymouth.
  3. The East Somerset Railway is the single-track joining from the West.

There is no direct access to and from the branch from the South-West. But then all of the quarry traffic needs to go to and from via the junction at Westbury.

In Westbury Station – 30th July 2020, I discussed the development of Westbury station.

This was my conclusion.

Could Westbury station develop into a zero-carbon rail transport hub for Wiltshire?

    1. It has an hourly train service between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids.
    2. It has an hourly service between Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth.
    3. There are hourly services to stations like Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Bristol Temple Meads, Chippenham, Dorchester, Frome, Swindon, Taunton, Trowbridge and Yeovil

It could be electrified to charge battery electric trains as they pass through.

Perhaps, an hourly service between Westbury and Shepton Mallet Parkway stations could be added to the services?

  • I estimate that Westbury and Shepton Mallet Parkway stations are about 13.5 miles apart
  • With an intermediate stop at Frome, I estimate that it would be a twenty minute journey.
  • A shuttle would need just one train and could run a passenger-friendly clock-face timetable.
  • A two-car diesel multiple unit would probably be good enough to open the service.
  • The service could be fully-integrated with all the other services passing through Westbury.

It would also be a shuttle service, that could be run using a battery electric train charging at Westbury station.

Conclusion

I like this proposal.

  • The only infrastructure required is the Park-and-Ride station at Shepton Mallet Parkway.
  • Much of the route is currently used by heavy freight trains.
  • I doubt that the East Somerset Railway will object.
  • I’m sure, that a diesel multiple unit could be found for the shuttle.
  • The passenger services will have good connections at Westbury station.

In a future zero-carbon world, it could be run by battery electric trains, charging at Westbury station.

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment