The Anonymous Widower

Bedwyn Station

I had to go to a meeting in Marlborough, so I took a train to Bedyn station for the first time in my life.

I took these pictures.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.

bedwyn

I have commuted from a couple of stations like this in Suffolk over the years and Bedwyn doesn’t impress me.

It is not a question of what the station has, but what it hasn’t.

  • No local catchment area as Great Bedwyn only has a population of 1353 according to the 2011 Census.
  • No car parking.
  • No good road access.
  • No step-free access.
  • No welcoming facilities.
  • No pub within walking distance.
  • No mobile phone signal.
  • No possibility of electrifying past Bedwyn, because of the need to demolish the bridge at the station.

I am surprised that GWR have kept it going so long!

Near where I lived in Suffolk was a station called Dullingham, which is just as welcoming as Bedwyn, but at least it had enough car parking for someone, who wanted to pop up to London and not drive.

There are only a few  reasons, why GWR keep this station going.

  • Historically, as they’ve always done it this way.
  • Bedwyn is the best station to turn trains and has a convenient reversing siding.
  • The guy, who decides the route lives in Bedwyn.

But I think they use Bedwyn to turn trains for one of the best reasons; to cut costs.

If you look at train timings from London, they are as follows.

Newbury – 52 minutes

Hungerford – 63 minutes

Bedwyn – 73 minutes

As they want to run an hourly service, turning the train at Bedwyn might mean that they can use a train less than doing it at say Pewsey, as timings work out well.

I think that as they need time to turn a train and give the driver a rest, that a journey time of 73 minutes means that a round trip to Bedwyn takes three hours with an allowance for a small delay.

After all it can’t be unprofitable as this article in the Marlborough News is entitled Back on track: Bedwyn to keep direct London trains after 2018.

This is said.

Great Western Railway announced today (February 24) that investment has been agreed with the Department for Transport that will, from 2018, bring brand new hybrid trains  capable of switching between diesel and electric power to replace the diesel turbo fleet now serving Bedwyn travellers.

 

I think that the only reason they wouldn’t turn the trains at Bedwyn, is that there was a better alternative down the line., like perhaps at  Westbury.

Incidentally, as the new trains could be faster, it might be that the turnback point could be further out

But both these scenarios would mean that Bedwyn will still get at least the same service it does now.

A Station For Marlborough

I wrote a post called A Station For Marlborough, a couple of weeks ago and this might be a possibility for a new terminus.

  • It is a town of nearly 10,000 people.
  • A lot of people in the town commute to Reading or London.
  • The town has identified a place for a new station, which is on the old railway alignment from Bedwyn.
  • If the train terminated at Marlborough, the timetable from Bedwyn could be the same.
  • The train would need to be self-powered, as is Great Wstern Railway’s bi-mode trains.

It might even be better value-for-money to create the rail link to Marlborough, than rebuild Bedwyn station for electrification and with a car park and step-free access.

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 26, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

A Station For Marlborough

Marlborough once had a pair of stations, as this map of the railways in the town shows.

marlboroughlines

Note the various stations in an area, where Marlborough the largest town has a population of 8,395.

This railway map shows the important Reading to Taunton Line that passes to the South of Marlborough. This Google Map shows that line as it crosses the A346 road.

The Reading to Raunton Line South Of Marlborough

The Reading to Raunton Line South Of Marlborough

Note.

There would also appear to be tracks of disused railways leading North-Westerly from Bedwyn towards Marlborough.

If Marlborough and the surrounding area were to be given a better rail connection, I would think that a possible solution would be a parkway station, perhaps where the A346 crosses the railway and the canal.

It should be born in mind, that modern trains are designed to perform fast stops at stations, so the extra station at Marlborough would not be the time penalty, it was a few years ago.

Transition Marlborough’s Proposal

But a local action group called Transition Marlborough have their own plans for a Marlborough Rail Link, which as this graphic shows are more ambitious.

marlboroughraillink

Their plans would involve restoring and electrifying the line to Marlborough, where a well-positioned station will be built.

These are my initial thoughts.

  • The route of the line appears feasible.
  • Electrification may be a problem given Network Rail’s expertise in this area.
  • Bedwyn would not appear to be the best terminus for a line to London.
  • I’ve not been to Bedwyn station, but I suspect it could be a bleak place in some kinds of weather.

After I wrote this list, a kind soul in the area sent me this message.

You’ll find that Bedwyn station is a pretty bleak place, especially in Winter. To reach it by road from Marlborough involves a 7.5 mile road trip, at least 3 miles of which is on an unmarked road through a forest. Bedwyn station is almost inaccessible for people without cars, as the connecting bus service is poor and unreliable.

My Version Of The Proposal

I think the best solution could be to create a single-track railway without electrification to a simple station with adequate parking at the proposed Salisbury Road Business Park location.

I would put the station in the car park of the Tesco supermarket in this Business Park.

The distance between Reading and Marlborough by train would be about 37 miles. Network Rail’s plans to electrify the line between Reading and Bedwyn are probably best described as fluid, but I suspect that electrification to Newbury could be possible, which would mean that only twenty miles between Paddington and Marlborough would be unwired.

So this would mean that when inevitably an electric train with onboard energy storage has a range of forty miles, Marlborough could get a modern electric service to and from Paddington.

The advantages of this strategy are as follows.

  • No ugly overhead catenary marching across the country.
  • Work would only include restoring a single track railway and building a simple no-frills station at Marlborough.
  • Marlborough station would not have any electrification and could be designed like a tram stop.
  • Fast Environmentally-friendly electric trains to and from Reading and Paddington.
  • The route would be designed for six-car trains in case Marlborough College put on a free concert featuring the Rolling Stones.
  • The route could be designed to allow two trains per hour (tph), as opposed to the current one tph service to and from Bedwyn.
  • Marlborough to Paddington would have a maximum time of around 80 minutes.

But the biggest advantage is that the scheme is that it could be affordable.

This article on the BBC is entitled Marlborough £30m railway line restoration plan.

If this branch line is developed as I believe Network Rail are now thinking, there could be money left over for a good launch party!

Conclusion

With the next generation of electric train with onboard energy storage or IPEMUs, a Marlborough station on a new Marlborough Branch Line can be used to create a two tph service to and from Paddington to replace the current one tph service from Bedwyn.

So a new Marlborough station would be a win for all those using stations on the Reading to Taunton Line to the East of Pewsey.

I also wonder how many other similar services can be developed by extending a service past a main line terminal to a new or reopened branch line, which is built without electrification and run using trains with onboard energy storage.

 

 

 

 

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments