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  • Minehaed Rail Link Group: October 30, 2018
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Author Topic: 30th October 2018 - Minehead Rail Link Group  (Read 1261 times)
bignosemac
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« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2018, 07:36:14 pm »

Somerset County Council would find it far easier to fund my idea at Norton Fitzwarren. Development levies and govt. grants for transport infrastructure could be gotten. Possibly. Or pigs might fly...

But who knows? Taunton could have a Parkway station linked to a heritage line. Wouldn't that be attractive?!
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« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2018, 10:58:13 pm »

Somerset County Council would find it far easier to fund my idea at Norton Fitzwarren. Development levies and govt. grants for transport infrastructure could be gotten. Possibly. Or pigs might fly...

But who knows? Taunton could have a Parkway station linked to a heritage line. Wouldn't that be attractive?!

I largely agree, but remain concerned at the NIMBY factor around Norton Fitwarren. The obsession about house prices seems particularly strong in that area.
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« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2018, 04:59:08 pm »

...the NIMBY factor...

Intrigued by that. Generally one would expect plans for a new railway station to drive house prices upwards...
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« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2018, 04:42:11 am »

To throw more spanners into the works of running into Taunton on a dedicated line...

The railway was once four track from Norton Fitzwarren to Taunton. From north to south they were Up Relief, Up Main, Down Main, Down Relief. When the area was resignalled by BR in the 1980s the Up Relief was removed. Today there are three lines between Norton Fitzwarren Junction and just west of Taunton Station. Again north to south, Up Main, Down Main and a bidirectional Down/Up Relief.

To give WSR access to Taunton's defunct west facing bay on the up side just means relaying the Up Relief for their dedicated use, yes? Sadly not. When BR resignalled the area and removed the Up Relief, they also slewed and spread the main lines. The Up Main now middles the formation where there was once Up Relief and Up Main. Oh, and the signalling cable runs are in the remaining space between Up Main and the north side boundary.

Yes the tracks could probably* be slewed back to reintroduce four lines. At what price and at what disruption though? WSR couldn't afford to pay for it. Network Rail and national rail TOCs would baulk at the disruption. And for what benefit? A few heritage DMU services into and out of Taunton per day, and only on WSR operational days.

   *I've said "probably" above because there is doubt that there's even
     room for a reinstated fourth track under the modern Silk Mills road
     bridge. Said bridge replaced Silk Mills level crossing in 2005.

All that realistically just leaves having WSR services cross over the Up and Down Main to the Down/Up Relief at Norton Fitzwarren Junction. Then running into the west facing bay on the down side of Taunton Station. There's more space here for a dedicated WSR station, along with a release head shunt and run round loop. There would also have been the possibility of seperate access to potential WSR facilities from the Inner Relief Road. Unfortunately the derelict railway land on the down side at the west end of the station is now earmarked for housing development. It may already have been sold by Network Rail.

This option has its problems too though. It means Network Rail giving up the west facing down bay, along with any potential national rail passenger use of it in the future. It means having heritage trains regularly crossing the main lines at Norton Fitzwarren Junction. And it also means said trains would have to be operated by Network Rail accredited staff across said junction and along the Down/Up Relief. That means WSR either paying to train their staff to run on NR metals or hiring pilots. WSR would also have to pay track access charges and sign contracts covering delay compensation. Imagine a WSR kettle failing as it crossed the main lines.

A few summer special heritage services from the national network to Minehead is fine. Running national network DMUs onto the WSR, in the same vein as SWR/Swanage Railway did this summer, is also fine.

But if you want regular interchange between WSR and the national network, then that would be done best at a new Norton Fitzwarren national rail station, linked to expanded WSR facilities on their land there. There are too many problems, some insurmountable, to do such interchange at Taunton.

Or Network Rail could buy out WSR (and its landlords Somerset County Council) and reinstate regular scheduled national rail passenger services to Minehead. That means shutting down, or drastically reducing, the heritage operation. Interworking both on a 23 mile single line would be fraught with problems.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 05:20:52 am by bignosemac » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2018, 07:45:14 am »

To throw more spanners into the works of running into Taunton on a dedicated line...

Thank you for those spanners ...

To the mind of a none-resident it seems insane that some of the changes happened in such a way that passive provision or protection of resources didn't happen.   How long was the interval between the BR line closing and the very first service under a preservation / heritage banner?   About five years I believe, and much of that time would have been spent with significant local activity getting ducks in a row - it wasn't a question of closing in 1971 the waving a wand in March 1976!

However - the 1970s were a different age.   
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« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2018, 08:41:43 am »

Passive provision to reinstate a four track railway from Cogload Junction to Norton Fitzwarren Junction may have been in the back of the minds of some at BR.

What wouldn't have entered their minds though would have been making that passive provision for the future aspirations of a private heritage railway.

The 1970s were indeed a different country in this regard. There was strong transport union opposition to the nascent West Somerset Railway. Western National busmen in the area were, at the time, in the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR), alongside their British Rail Western Region brothers. An accident of history going back to the days of Great Western Railway bus services. These heavily unionised, and by contemporary accounts quite militant, bus and rail staff were deeply opposed to the West Somerset Railway ever running back into Taunton. There was a fear, probably misplaced, that the WSR were a threat to the parallel Taunton - Minehead buses.

Add to that the idea of a private operator making a success of a line closed by BR, and you can understand why BR were reluctant to assist the WSR's (and Somerset County Council who actually purchased the line) early aims to run what would have been commercial services into and out of Taunton.

So the opportunity to keep Minehead connected to Taunton by rail, for regular services, was lost in the 1970s. Subsequent rationalisation by BR, and renewal works into the 21st century by Network Rail, have focused solely on the infrastructure for national rail services. It's actually a small miracle that the physical link to the WSR at Norton Fitzwarren wasn't cut when the Taunton Cider factory closed (I do miss Autumn Gold, Natch, Exhibition..), along with its Speedlink freight siding.

The passive provision we have today is the land acquired at Norton Fitzwarren by WSR, and a 'Core Strategy' plan from Taunton Deane Borough Council that includes access to this land. A new main road already runs right up to the former site of Norton Fitzwarren Station. This road abruptly ends here, but it's clear the intention is to link it to the WSR site. This land, known as Ford's Farm, is earmarked for as a 'potential use for mixed development' site*. All that'd be needed then is to get Network Rail (and by extension HMG) onside to plan a mainline station here too. Three platforms. Up and Down Main and the third for WSR services. And with the land that's available you have room for 'Parkway' style provison, with bus, cycle and pedestrian facilities for a large and growing catchment. Add in the recent new build and future planned housing and you have a very attractive proposition. One that's far easier to plan and fund than trying to square the circle of running heritage trains into and out of Taunton.

* http://consultldf.tauntondeane.gov.uk/portal/corestrat/adoptedcs?pointId=1342694080913
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 09:29:21 am by bignosemac » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: October 14, 2018, 09:11:31 am »



Reading in .. much useful stuff thanks.  I put a timeline together - top line showing end of service in 1971 and a single run (a class 25) in 1975 to extract a steam loco from Butlins.   Bottom line - formation of Minehead group a few weeks after closure, purchase by the council in 1973 and services starting from Minehead to Blue Anchor in 1976 and to Williton later that year.  Had extended as far as Bishop's Lydeard by the end of the decade.
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« Reply #22 on: October 14, 2018, 01:24:09 pm »

A quote from my third-ever post on this forum:

...isn't the operating model of these railways going to have to change, as the supply of volunteers dries up and the kit gets older?

I'm just playing with ideas here, trying to imagine what a 'conservation railway' (akin to a 'conservation area' in planning terms) might look like and how it might be organised and run.

I still think this idea has legs...

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« Reply #23 on: October 14, 2018, 02:49:37 pm »

Passive provision to reinstate a four track railway from Cogload Junction to Norton Fitzwarren Junction may have been in the back of the minds of some at BR.

What wouldn't have entered their minds though would have been making that passive provision for the future aspirations of a private heritage railway.

The 1970s were indeed a different country in this regard. There was strong transport union opposition to the nascent West Somerset Railway. Western National busmen in the area were, at the time, in the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR), alongside their British Rail Western Region brothers. An accident of history going back to the days of Great Western Railway bus services. These heavily unionised, and by contemporary accounts quite militant, bus and rail staff were deeply opposed to the West Somerset Railway ever running back into Taunton. There was a fear, probably misplaced, that the WSR were a threat to the parallel Taunton - Minehead buses.

Add to that the idea of a private operator making a success of a line closed by BR, and you can understand why BR were reluctant to assist the WSR's (and Somerset County Council who actually purchased the line) early aims to run what would have been commercial services into and out of Taunton.

So the opportunity to keep Minehead connected to Taunton by rail, for regular services, was lost in the 1970s. Subsequent rationalisation by BR, and renewal works into the 21st century by Network Rail, have focused solely on the infrastructure for national rail services. It's actually a small miracle that the physical link to the WSR at Norton Fitzwarren wasn't cut when the Taunton Cider factory closed (I do miss Autumn Gold, Natch, Exhibition..), along with its Speedlink freight siding.

The passive provision we have today is the land acquired at Norton Fitzwarren by WSR, and a 'Core Strategy' plan from Taunton Deane Borough Council that includes access to this land. A new main road already runs right up to the former site of Norton Fitzwarren Station. This road abruptly ends here, but it's clear the intention is to link it to the WSR site. This land, known as Ford's Farm, is earmarked for as a 'potential use for mixed development' site*. All that'd be needed then is to get Network Rail (and by extension HMG) onside to plan a mainline station here too. Three platforms. Up and Down Main and the third for WSR services. And with the land that's available you have room for 'Parkway' style provison, with bus, cycle and pedestrian facilities for a large and growing catchment. Add in the recent new build and future planned housing and you have a very attractive proposition. One that's far easier to plan and fund than trying to square the circle of running heritage trains into and out of Taunton.

* http://consultldf.tauntondeane.gov.uk/portal/corestrat/adoptedcs?pointId=1342694080913


I very largely agree, but remain  concerned at the NIMBY factor.
Objections to car parking and extra traffic could perhaps be handled by not providing any public parking and by branding the new station "Norton Interchange" or some other wording not including parkway.

I fully appreciate that car parking is a general requirement at rail stations, but in this particular case, it might be reasonable to suggest that car drivers could use the existing Taunton station.

Presumably under this proposal, a regular service between Norton Interchange and Taunton would be operated by GWR, whilst a regular service between Norton Interchange and Minehead would be operated the WSR.
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« Reply #24 on: October 14, 2018, 04:04:38 pm »

It will be bad enough with "fire breathing, spark snorting iron monsters roaming the countryside at will ! crops will be destroyed by fire, horses be frightened before becoming extinct, the hovels of the poor be tumbled down, hens will stop laying, cows dry up, and the district be covered in smoke, dirt and misery"

"The afternoon will be mainly cloudy, with light showers and occasional sunny spells, see the BBC Weather website for more details"
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« Reply #25 on: October 14, 2018, 04:32:24 pm »

The passive provision we have today is the land acquired at Norton Fitzwarren by WSR, and a 'Core Strategy' plan from Taunton Deane Borough Council that includes access to this land. A new main road already runs right up to the former site of Norton Fitzwarren Station. This road abruptly ends here, but it's clear the intention is to link it to the WSR site. This land, known as Ford's Farm, is earmarked for as a 'potential use for mixed development' site*. All that'd be needed then is to get Network Rail (and by extension HMG) onside to plan a mainline station here too. Three platforms. Up and Down Main and the third for WSR services. And with the land that's available you have room for 'Parkway' style provison, with bus, cycle and pedestrian facilities for a large and growing catchment. Add in the recent new build and future planned housing and you have a very attractive proposition. One that's far easier to plan and fund than trying to square the circle of running heritage trains into and out of Taunton.

* http://consultldf.tauntondeane.gov.uk/portal/corestrat/adoptedcs?pointId=1342694080913


bignosemac - Can you walk me through what a typical mainline rail timetable at your proposed Norton Fitzwarren station would look like? I'm intrigued to see what you feel would be viable and desirable service-wise.
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« Reply #26 on: October 14, 2018, 05:08:48 pm »

We don't yet know what the future timetables will look like on the existing infrastructure. It'd be a futile exercise to plan services for a new station with such unknowns.

Broadly though, I'd expect at least hourly regional services, and then calls by long distance services every other hour.
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