This article on the BBC is entitled Kempton Park racecourse faces closure to make way for housing.
This Google Map shows Kempton Park racecourse and the surrounding area.
It is a large site of about a third of a square mile, bounded on the Southern side by the Thames, with the Shepperton Branch to Waterloo on the Northern side.
- London needs lots of quality housing and it would certainly provide that.
- Kempton Park station currently has two trains per hour (tph) taking 44 minutes to and from Waterloo.
- As I said in An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2, whether Crossrail 2 is built or not, four tph could run on the Shepperton Branch to Waterloo in perhaps 30 minutes.
- There might be space for a section station on the London side of Kempton Park station.
- Road connections are good to the M3 and M25.
- A black-cab or mini-cab to Heathrow wouldn’t be outrageous.
On this rough look it certainly looks to be a good site for housing.
It is also possibly the only site owned by The Jockey Club, whose sale would create enough cash for thei improvements to go ahead.
But as on Radio 5 tonight, not all horse racing participants and fans will like this decision.
When a friend phoned me from Brighton asking me next time I was in the area to meet him for a coffee, I decided to combine the trip with a visit to the site of the level crossing in I Wonder If This Happens In Europe.
These are pictures I took at Plumpton station.
It would not be called grand, but it must be one of the few stations in the UK with an attached racecourse.
The rebuilding of the level crossing is causing problems according to Wikipedia. This is said.
Network Rail closed the level crossing in September 2015 so that the gates on the crossing could be replaced. However, Lewes District Council rejected the plans to replace the gates as it would cause “substantial harm to the significance of the signal box”. Network Rail have said that they cannot open the crossing as the work is not completed. This has effectively split the village in two, with some motorists having to take a six or seven mile detour.
I did chat with a local and her grey whippet and feel that there could be more to this than meets the eye.
If you type “Plumpton suicide” into Google, you find reports, where people have killed themselves at the crossing.
But I also feel that Network Rail haven’t been too clever in this one. My view is that stations like Plumpton need at least a half-hourly service, as this means you have a proper turn-up-and-go service.
One of the pieces of work being done in the area, is to close all the signal boxes and handle all signalling from Three Bridges Operating Centre. This work combined with an automated level crossing, could surely enable all the half-hourly services between Lewes and London to stop at the station.
But it would enrage the militant wing of the heritage lobby!
As to the signal box, they should be looking at a version of the Highams Park solution. Perhaps it would make a cafe and/or business centre.
Starting a half-hourly service might have the effect of increasing traffic at the station.
It’s a difficult one, but with the population of areas like Sussex getting older, more numerous and more and more people cutting use of their cars, who knows?
For the duration of the level crossing closure, Network Rail and Southern had a golden opportunity to experiment with stopping all services. Some of those drivers, who are doing a long detour, might have been persuaded to try the trains to Lewes, Brighton or London.
This article on Rail News is entitled Warwickshire rail campaigners welcome news of National Infrastructure Commission and it discusses the struggles of local campaigners trying to restore the rail line between Stratford-on-Avon and Honeybourne, on the North Cotswold Route. Wikipedia says this about the plans.
The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group is promoting a scheme to reinstate the 9 miles (14 km) “missing Link” between Honeybourne and Stratford. Called the “Avon Rail Link”, the scheme (supported as a freight diversionary route by DB Schenker) would make Stratford-upon-Avon railway station a through station once again with improved connections to the Cotswolds and the South. The scheme faces local opposition. There is, however, a good business case for Stratford-Cotswolds link.
Note this could also be a freight diversion route.
Last year, I went to Stratford-on-Avon and wrote Stratford Upon Avon Station Is Getting A Facelift.
I hinted at more services to come and linked to the Wikipedia comments above.
To return to the Rail News article, it says some interesting things like this.
A NIC could overcome one of the biggest hurdles that has existed for decades. For mainly no other reason the route from Stratford to Honeybourne straddles two government regional boundaries (West Midlands and South West) two Network Rail regions (Chiltern/West Midlands and Western), three County Councils, three District Councils and two Local Enterprise Partnerships.
Is anybody in charge? Perhaps the NIC will be. This is said on visitors to Stratford-on-Avon.
Stratford only attracts six per cent of visitors to the town to travel by rail, while the national average for visitors by rail to similar UK rail-connected tourist destinations is over double that, at 13 per cent.
As the line has a good case for reopening and Stratford-on-Avon station has been upgraded, perhaps this is a project that should be looked at seriously.
We are probably going to live in a new era if George Osbourn’s plans for business rate reform come to fruition, which might see progressive Councils developing infrastructure to enable business, housing and tourism opportunities.
Surely a reconstructed line from Stratford-on-Avon to Cheltenham would tick a few boxes.
There is a major prize at the Cheltenham end if Cheltenham Racecourse, which is one of the busiest in the UK, could be linked to the main line rail network at Cheltenham Spa station. The Google Map shows the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway going past the racecourse, where there is already a station.
Unfortunately, there is a supermarket which is partially blocking the route between the racecourse and Cheltenham Spa station.
These are the sort of problems that a National Infrastructure Commission should have the power to solve or dismiss as insoluble.
Watching National Hunt racing at Cheltenham is one of the great sporting spectacles of the British Isles and a viable rail service to the course from London and Oxford needs to be created.
Frankie rode for C and myself several times and he is very much a genuine what-you-see-is-what-you-get person, who is the life and soul of any group. But then most jockeys are like that and many have fought back from terrible problems, circumstances or injuries.
I do think that over the last few years, my experience of horse racing and its people has helped me pull through all my troubles.
On the other hand,. having paternal and maternal male lines of Jewish and Huguenot origin respectively and a grandmother born in London of a stubborn Devonian line, isn’t a disadvantage to survival.
My life may not have been colourful, but I’m certainly not finished yet!
Some coastal parts of the UK and other parts of Europe have a seagull problem.
But this story from Brighton must be unique, where one of the birds finished second in the 7:10 race according to the photo finish.
There are gamblers, successful gamblers and Barney Curley. In a betting coup a couple of days ago, the BBC is reporting that he made about two million pounds.
It certainly isn’t the first time! A late friend was a Newmarket bookmaker and was always on the look-out for any of Barney’s money. He managed to avoid any serious damage, but that was more by luck than judgement.
Wikipedia gives a detailed account of the Yellow Sam betting coup.
The major bookmakers thought they had protected themselves against coups from the likes of Barney Curley. But they were wrong!
This month’s Modern Railways describes a substantial proposed development at the station, which adds extra platforms and capacity. Given that there is a large development being started at Cheltenham Racecourse and getting to the racecourse by road is a nightmare, I think it would be a good idea to expand the station, so that racegoers could at least get to Cheltenham by train. Provision is made in the station scheme for perhaps a light rail system to link to the racecourse station.
But obviously, a heavy rail scheme would be better, so that luxury special trains could run from Paddington direct to the racecourse. First Great Western are now running Pullman Dining services on InterCity 125 trains to Plymouth, so perhaps the soon-to-be redundant trains could be refurbished as luxury go-virtually-anywhere trains to take visitors to special events in style.
There’s a lot to think about!
But the proposed reworking of Cheltenham Spa station, does show how if you think properly, you can improve a mundane station for the benefit of the rail companies and passengers alike.
Here’s a personal example.
With the simplification of movements at Ipswich, due to the new Bacon Factory Curve, will this make possible, some small improvements? It would be much easier for a train from say Cambridge to come in to Ipswich station and then reverse out to either Lowestoft or Felixstowe, as there won’t be freight trains reversing in the yard outside the station.
I hope Network Rail has got their thinking cap on!
They certainly seem to have got it right with new stations at Cambridge Science Park and Lea Bridge, but they seem to have been unlucky with building a Coventry Arena station, and then have Coventry City move away.
But as I indicated in this post, are Network Rail expanding the railway, by doing lots of small high return projects.
I have taken horses to the breeding establishments of all the major owner/breeders in the Newmarket area. Most are very professional and you’d have to go a long way to find a better organised and managed stud, than say the Nunnery, Banstead Manor, Cheveley Park, Lanwades or the Royal Studs.
One stud, I went to a couple of times, that was not of the same standard was Sheikh Mohammed’s Dalham Hall. You couldn’t pin what was wrong, and I never had a problem, but the quality of staff, wasn’t of the same order as at other top class studs. And they were always changing! By comparison, when I went to Sheikh Hamdam’s Nunnery, you were always recognised like an old friend and they usually asked how I was getting on without C.
So when I read on the BBC’s web site, that Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation is involve in a doping scandal, I am not surprised.