The Anonymous Widower

Stonehenge Tunnel Campaigners Win Court Battle

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first part of the BBC article.

Campaigners have won a court battle to prevent the “scandalous” construction of a road tunnel near Stonehenge.

The £1.7bn Highways England project aimed to reduce A303 congestion but campaigners said it would detrimentally affect the world heritage site.

The government approved plans in 2020 for a two-mile (3.2km) tunnel to be created near the Wiltshire monument.

Mr Justice Holgate’s ruling means the order granted by transport secretary Grant Shapps has been quashed.

I obtained my driving licence in 1964 and since then the A303 past Stonehenge has been a worsening bottleneck.

I suspect that unreleased papers from successive governments since the 1960s would show that most Ministers of Transport hoped the problem of Stonehenge would be solved by the next Government of a different colour, which would hopefully lose them the next election.

If you read the whole of the BBC article you’ll see a large map from Highways England.

Note.

  1. The proposed tunnel is shown as a dotted red line to the South of Stonehenge, more or less following the line of the current A303.
  2. The Amesbury by-pass already exists in the East.
  3. A new Winterbourne Stoke by-pass will be built in the West.

Some feel that a longer tunnel might be the solution.

But it would probably need to start to the West of Winterbourne Stoke and be at least three times longer than the proposed tunnel.

So this short stretch of road would then probably cost around £5billion.

Can We Reduce The Traffic On This Road?

There are several ways that traffic might be reduced.

Universal Road Pricing

Every vehicle would be fitted with a meter, which charged drivers depending on the following.

  • The type of vehicle.
  • The congestion on the road.
  • The speed, at which the vehicle is travelling.

It might work, but any government introducing universal road pricing would lose the next General Election by a landslide.

Tolls On Parts Of The A303

Again it might work and push drivers to find other routes.

Improve Other Routes Like The M4

As capacity is increased on other routes, drivers could be lured away from the busy section of the A303 around Stonehenge.

Improve Rail Services Between Paddington And West Of Exeter

I know because of friends, who regularly go to Devon and \Cornwall for both weekends and longer holidays, that many people go to the far-South West by car and most will use the A303 route to and from London.

These services are run by Great Western Railway and the destinations in the South West are not as comprehensive as they could be.

  • GWR’s Class 802 trains can split and join efficiently, which could mean they could serve more destinations with the same number of trains.
  • GWR seem to be in favour of developing more direct services between London and Bodmin, Okehampton and other places.
  • GWR are adding stations to their network in the South-West.

But most importantly, GWR, Hitachi and the Eversholt Rail Group are developing the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which will lower carbon-emissions on the route. This Hitachi infographic describes the train.

These trains could attract numbers of car drivers to use the train, rather than drive.

Improve The Night Riviera Between Paddington And Penzance

Most other sleeper trains in Europe have renewed their fleet.

An improvement in the rolling stock could encourage more people to travel this way.

Improve Rail Services Between Waterloo And Exeter

The rail line between Waterloo and Exeter via Basingstoke and Salisbury runs within a dozen miles of Stonehenge.

  • The rolling stock is thirty-year-old British Rail diesel trains.
  • It is not electrified to the West of Basingstoke.
  • There are portions of single-track railway.

The Waterloo and Exeter line could be improved.

  • Remove some sections of single track.
  • Upgrade the operating speed to up to 100 mph in places.
  • Use a version of the latest Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train
  • Add some new stations.

I believe the quality, frequency and journey times of the service could all be improved.

Would this second fast route from the South-West encourage more to take the train?

Stonehenge And Wilton Junction Station

Stonehenge may be the problem, but it can also be part of the solution.

In The Proposal For Stonehenge And Wilton Junction Station, I write about an innovative proposal, that uses a car park at a new station to create a Park-And-Ride for both Stonehenge and Salisbury.

This could bring more visitors to Stonehenge without their cars.

Conclusion

None of these proposals will take vast amounts of pressure from the A303. But every little helps.

Some like the decarbonisation of rail services will have to be done anyway.

 

July 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Proposal For Stonehenge And Wilton Junction Station

This article on the Salisbury Journal is entitled Wilton Railway Project On Track As Bid Submitted.

It starts with this paragraph.

An application to reopen the railway station in Wilton has reached the third round of the Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund.

There are also more details in the February 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

The following sections give more information and some of my thoughts.

Station Name

The station appears to be called Stonehenge and Wilton Junction in all the articles and reports.

Station Location

This page on the TransWilts web site, says this about the station.

Wilton is at the junction between the Salisbury to Bristol line and the Salisbury to Exeter line.
It is 7 miles to Stonehenge Visitor Centre. A consultants report by Atkins shows an economic case and a developer for housing at the site has been identified. Station cost is in the order of £15m.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The Wilton Park-and-Ride site at the top of the Map.
  2. The railway going South-East and North-West across the map is the Wessex Main Line, that links Salisbury and Bristol.
  3. The railway going South-East and West across the map is the West of England Main Line, that links Salisbury and Exeter.
  4. Both routes are double track.

It would appear that the new station would have platforms on both rail lines through the station.

Station Design

If Atkins reckon the station can be built for £15 million as I quoted earlier, it can’t be a very grand station.

The Modern Railways article says this about the station.

A park-and-ride facility at the station would reduce congestion in the centre of Salisbury. Improving London services in the proposal improves the cost-benefit ratio, so what is now envisaged is a four-platform station, with platforms on both the TransWilts and the Yeovil to London lines. The thinking is that the new station could work in tandem with the lengthening of the Tisbury loop and other proposals for possible expansion on the South Western route to Exeter that was floated in the latest Network Rail Continuous Modular Strategy.

My feelings are that a radical approach could yield an efficient station with a smaller number of platforms.

Train services through the station could include.

  • GWR – Cardiff Central and Portsmouth Harbour – Hourly – Transwilts Lines – Also calls at Salisbury
  • GWR – Great Malvern and Brighton or Southampton – Hourly – Transwilts Lines – Also calls at Salisbury
  • SWR – London Wareloo and Exeter – Hourly – Yeovil and London Lines – Also calls at Salisbury

There is also talk of extending the Transwilts hourly service between Swindon and Westbury to Salisbury and then on to Southampton via Romsey.

This would do the following.

  • Create a link to Southampton Airport.
  • Give the new station a Turn-Up-And-Go service to Salisbury.
  • The fourth service would mean that three services called on the Transwilts platforms and one service called on the Yeovil and London platforms.

So why not have one large platform between the two pairs of lines?

  • It would have a tunnel connecting it to the buses and the car parking.
  • One large lift would take passengers with limited mobility to the platform.
  • The Southern face of the platform, would handle all trains running on the Yeovil and London line. A single platform can easily handle an hourly fast service in both directions.
  • The Northern face of the platform, would handle all trains running on the Transwilts.
  • Three trains per hour (tph) in both directions, could probably be handled with some innovation and a long platform.

Why complicate everything with four platforms?

Link To Stonehenge

I haven’t been to Stonehenge since the 1950s, although I have observed it from traffic jams on nearby roads many times.

Surely, there is a chance here to connect the new station and the World Heritage Site with a zero-carbon battery or hydrogen bus.

As the distance between the station and Stonehenge is only about seven miles, it would probably be the easiest way to get large number of visitors to the unique site.

We probably need more well-planned zero-carbon bus links to historic, tourist and other important sites.

 

 

 

March 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Stonehenge A303 Tunnel Plan Approved By Transport Secretary

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A controversial plan to dig a £2.4bn road tunnel near Stonehenge has been approved by the Transport Secretary.

As a non-driver, who would prefer to travel to the South West by train, I have no definite opinion on the proposed scheme.

However, I do hope that the design has taken full account of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Will more decide to holiday at home?
  • Will more buy holiday homes in Cornwall and Devon?
  • Will the road attract more traffic, as most do?

I do feel though, that it will be some years before construction starts, as if ever there was a project, that will be a pot of gold lawyers, then this is it!

 

November 12, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Stonehenge Is Unique

Stonehenge is unique and at the age of ten, I was able to walk amongst the stones in a party from my Primary School.

That was much better than the limited access you get now.

But then in the mid-1950s, Stonehenge didn’t get the visitors it does now.

In The Times today, there are reports of an Almighty row about how traffic is hidden from the monument.

This article on the BBC, which is entitled Stonehenge tunnel ‘should be longer’, puts forward a shorter view of the arguments in The Times.

The real problem with the traffic around Stonehenge, is that something should have been done about it years ago. As with so many problems, successive governments have just ignored the unique site.

I think that any solution to the future of Stonehenge should do the following.

  • Remove all passing traffic as far away as is practical.
  • All visitors to the monument should probably come by electric bus from the a nearby railway station or Park-and-Ride.
  • Improve the rail service on the South Western Main Line, which is not electrified and needs more capacity.

I also feel that modern technology could be used to provide a better view of the stones.

Certainly, what we have at present is totally unacceptable to both road traffic passing the site and visitors.

There is even a proposal for a Wilton Parkway station, which would be on the Wessex Main Line and linked to Stonehenge by bus, that I wrote about in A Station For Stonehenge?

This would provide a Tourist Route from Bristol to Portsmouth via Bath Spa, Stomnehenge, Salisbury and Southampton.

 

January 21, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments