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Author Topic: Cheddar Valley Line and Borders Railway - a comparison  (Read 526 times)
Red Squirrel
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« on: July 02, 2019, 12:11:08 pm »

A discussion elsewhere on this forum set me wondering about how mid-Somerset compares with the Scottish Borders:

The Borders Railway, from the point where it branches off at Newcraighall, is about 40km long and serves the following populations:

Shawfair
?
Eskbank
12342
Newtongrange
5341
Gorebridge
5777
Stow
718
Galashiels
12600
Tweedbank
2101
-----
Total
38879

The Cheddar Valley line, from Yatton to Cranmore, was about 32km. If reopened, it could serve the following populations:

Congresbury
3497
Banwell
2919
Winscombe
4500
Axbridge
2057
Cheddar
5755
Wells
10536
Shepton Mallet
10369
-----
Total
39633

The Borders Railway cost about £300 million to re-build. Rebuilding the Strawberry line would probably cost something similar. The Borders line is currently one-ended - it connects the Borders with Edinburgh. The Strawberry Line would connect at both ends, giving access to Bristol, Bath and Westbury. It's not the most direct route to Bristol or Bath, but decent line speeds ought to be possible.

The scheme cost for the A358 scheme, for comparison, is £250-500 million and, for Jct 18a of the M4, £428 million.

How would you spend the money?
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Witham Bobby
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2019, 12:30:38 pm »

The road schemes mentioned are needed - the congestion causes a great deal of cost, inconvenience and pollution.

But I can see the advantages of a restored railway.  Is the thought that new rail travel opportunities would reduce the road traffic by much?  Is there evidence that it would save road journeys?  I'm old enough to remember being told quite often that increasing transport provision soon builds demand that negates the effect of the increased provision
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2019, 02:20:04 pm »

The capacity-induced demand and the existence of congestion at present, could be taken together as an argument against building new roads. Or even for reducing road capacity as a way to reduce congestion.

Returning to the Borders railway, I am boggled that a village of 718 people gets a new station!
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eightonedee
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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2019, 11:27:18 pm »

Stow fills a large gap between Gorebridge and Galashiels, and is the nearest point to Lauder, although the latter has a population of only about 1800.

RS's point though is well made. This link could restore a reasonable Bristol link for quite a number of Somerset communities. How much of the formation remains? Presumably this would also involve taking over the East Somerset Railway? 
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Trowres
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2019, 12:01:07 am »

Returning to the Borders railway, I am boggled that a village of 718 people gets a new station!

The ORR figures credit it with about 70,000 passengers in 2017-8.

Food for thought.
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martyjon
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2019, 03:51:48 am »

Returning to the Borders railway, I am boggled that a village of 718 people gets a new station!
The ORR figures credit it with about 70,000 passengers in 2017-8.
Food for thought.


P & R business by any chance at this station, Stow, and similarly at Tweedbank.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2019, 04:16:54 am by martyjon » Logged
grahame
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2019, 06:08:06 am »

Returning to the Borders railway, I am boggled that a village of 718 people gets a new station!
The ORR figures credit it with about 70,000 passengers in 2017-8.
Food for thought.


P & R business by any chance at this station, Stow, and similarly at Tweedbank.

36 (official) free parking spaces if I read the data right - if nearly full on a daily basis with driver-only traffic that would account for some 20,000 journeys.  There may be street parking, car sharing, buses.  Around 100 arrivals and 100 departures per day from the population ... 13.4% of the local population use the train on a daily basis if you play with numbers - not impossible; don't know the place.  I have also seen towns / villages split across multiple (parish) names, and ticketing quirks.   Lots of possibilities.

I also draw your attention to other stations with low local populations and high passenger numbers - in my own home county Bedwyn (Great Bedwyn village) and Dean (West Dean village).

One very interesting thing I have learned from a quick look around online ... Scotrail operate 158 station car parks and only charge at 20 of them.  See https://www.scotrail.co.uk/plan-your-journey/stations-and-facilities/car-parking . It looks like a world away from what we see in Wiltshire ...
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eXPassenger
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2019, 11:05:36 am »

Stow fills a large gap between Gorebridge and Galashiels, and is the nearest point to Lauder, although the latter has a population of only about 1800.

RS's point though is well made. This link could restore a reasonable Bristol link for quite a number of Somerset communities. How much of the formation remains? Presumably this would also involve taking over the East Somerset Railway? 

I live on the Western end of the Strawberry line which is now a cycle and pedestrian route.  The state of the formation is:
  • Yatton to Sandford - mostly intact except for Sandford sewage works and possibly a new National Grid substation
  • Sandford to Shute Shelve tunnel - Sandford station is now a railway heritage centre.  In Winscombe gardens have been extended over the track.  From Winscombe and through the Shute Shelve tunnel Bristol Water have laid a high capacity water main.
  • Axbridge - the formation carries the Axbridge bypass
  • Cheddar - the formation is covered by trading estates, houses and a secondary school
  • Wells - the formation has gardens and the Wells through roads.

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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2019, 05:40:30 pm »

Fitting new railways along old routes is not without challenges!

The central section of East West Railway is a case in point: many houses have been built on the old alignment at Sandy, and the Mullard Observatory and Cambridge Guided Busway occupy the old route at the Cambridge end, and so it has been decided to find a completely new alignment. However, Cambridgeshire's flat open countryside allows a lot more leeway for this than is available for the Strawberry Line, which threads its way through a tight pass at Shute Shelve before following the line of the Mendip Hills to Wells. There is some, but not much, wiggle room.

Would it be possible to squeeze a single track in alongside the Axbridge Bypass, and by Strawberry Way in Wells? Or would a cut and cover tunnel be possible at one or other of these locations? Would a new alignment be needed to the west of Cheddar?

If all this seems impossibly ambitious or expensive, how about this: Highways England plan to invest (sic) £1.4 billion to 'improve' a roundabout on the A1 . This scheme will, they say, cut 10 minutes off the commute between Black Cat and Caxton Gibbet. How would you spend £1.4 billion?
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4064ReadingAbbey
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« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2019, 04:19:35 pm »

SNIPPED
How would you spend £1.4 billion?
On me?
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eXPassenger
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« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2019, 06:17:34 pm »

On a practical / political view the Borders railway was pushed through by the Scottish government.  The Cheddar line would have the combined weight of N Somerset parish council and Somerset CC / Sedgemoor DC / Mendip CC.

N Somerset has not yet got the Portishead line agreed where the formation exists and is running freight trains for much of its length.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2019, 10:25:57 pm by eXPassenger » Logged
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