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Author Topic: Vale of Berkeley Railway to reopen for passenger heritage use?  (Read 3140 times)
TonyK
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« on: August 11, 2019, 05:43:05 pm »

A Beeching casualty, but still intact thanks to the nuclear flask trains from now closed Berkeley power station, could reopen. From Punchline-Gloucester.com:

Quote
All aboard! New heritage railway set to open in Gloucestershire
By James Young | 8th August 2019

A new heritage railway could soon be steaming in to action in the south of Gloucestershire.

The Vale of Berkeley Railway have submitted plans to Stroud District Council to build two stations on the former Sharpness Branch line.

The line, which was taken out of passenger service during the Beeching cuts of the 1960s has remained intact since.



However, since then the only rolling stock to use the track are nuclear flask carrying trains who serviced the Berkeley power station.

But the volunteer-run railway, who currently operate out of an old engine shed at Sharpness Docks have now submitted plans to build stations at both Sharpness and Berkeley.

Both stations would be fairly simple, with raised platforms to the western and southern edge of the railway. Both would have a small covered shelter and accessible toilets.

Car parking spaces with associated pathways are also included in the plans.

The Vale of Berkeley railway was established in 2013 with the aim of bringing the line from Sharpness to Berekely Road back into life.

The aim is to put in place a loop to allow engines to turn at Berkeley Pad, to create a viable two-way railway between Sharpness and Berkeley.

The railway has charitable status and its website states: "Our aim is to reopen the Sharpness branch line, in Gloucestershire, to passengers as a heritage railway tourist attraction.

We have established an engineering facility based in the old Engine Shed by the docks in order to restore heritage locomotives, rolling stock and other suitable items from a by-gone era and to serve as an initial base for the Vale of Berkeley Railway.

"Eventually we hope to restore the original Sharpness station site, and start up a Heritage Railway operation towards Berkeley."

The station at Berkeley was last used in 1960, while the newtown station in Sharpness hasn't served passengers since the late 1800s.

The application reference for Newtown station is 19/1447/FUL, and for Berkeley station 19/1448/FUL.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2019, 05:51:31 pm by TonyK » Logged

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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2019, 08:00:58 pm »

They have been going at Sharpness for some years, and it will be interesting to see if the station plans and running trains actually comes to pass.

However, if it does come to pass, what do the learned here think of the possibility of a Berkeley Road reopening as an interchange? Cam & Dursley is close by but not close enough to facilitate an easy walk - especially down the A38.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2019, 09:58:47 pm »

I heard someone give a talk about this a year or two ago. He said their long term desire is to see scheduled services running through to Gloucester.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2019, 11:54:45 pm »

I heard someone give a talk about this a year or two ago. He said their long term desire is to see scheduled services running through to Gloucester.

I suppose Lydney is out of the question!?  Grin
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2019, 12:10:20 am »

I heard someone give a talk about this a year or two ago. He said their long term desire is to see scheduled services running through to Gloucester.

I suppose Lydney is out of the question!?  Grin

Lydney possible via Gloucester; I think there's a bridge out on the old direct line.
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johnneyw
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2019, 12:35:46 am »

I heard someone give a talk about this a year or two ago. He said their long term desire is to see scheduled services running through to Gloucester.

I suppose Lydney is out of the question!?  Grin

The VoB railway does have very close links to the Dean Forest Railway and they have been getting permanent way experience helping them out. A couple of years ago I spoke to Mike Hoskin, who started the group, who speculated that they might, in the future, try to run specials between the two heritage railways but that was some way off.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2019, 09:00:35 am »

Ah well, a few more years ago I went to a talk by someone else (nothing to do with VoB or FoD or any other railway, a local historian type) suggesting that the Severn Bridge disaster might not have been unwelcome to the rail authorities of the time. Purely circumstantial evidence, of course.
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eightf48544
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2019, 09:51:09 am »

Lydney possible via Gloucester; I think there's a bridge out on the old direct line.

A rather large bridge over the Severn and a Swing Bridge over the canal. But the base for the swing bridge is still there!
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johnneyw
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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2019, 12:42:47 pm »

Ah well, a few more years ago I went to a talk by someone else (nothing to do with VoB or FoD or any other railway, a local historian type) suggesting that the Severn Bridge disaster might not have been unwelcome to the rail authorities of the time. Purely circumstantial evidence, of course.

And I'm sure this is something I've read or heard of sometime in the past. The only sort of evidence I can see to back this is that the damaged section of the bridge was very short in comparison to it's full length yet the decision was made to remove it. What didn't help was that even more pier damage was caused later on by another collision so perhaps it was the changed nature of estuary traffic at the time which might also have factored in the decision making process.
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2019, 12:51:24 pm »

Our bloke made a big thing of how it just happened to occur while the bridge was closed for maintenance and also something about the gas pipeline running along the bridge: I can't remember now whether it was that the fire was more intense than would have been expected if the gas had been turned off as supposed to be (though of course the barges were carrying fuel), or that the gas pipe definitely hadn't been turned off despite the bridge being closed for maintenance. The coincidence of timing came out a bit conspiratorial TBH. I wouldn't like to think the crew who died were victims of an underhand railway cost-cutting exercise.  Shocked
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TonyK
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2019, 08:57:06 pm »

And I'm sure this is something I've read or heard of sometime in the past. The only sort of evidence I can see to back this is that the damaged section of the bridge was very short in comparison to it's full length yet the decision was made to remove it. What didn't help was that even more pier damage was caused later on by another collision so perhaps it was the changed nature of estuary traffic at the time which might also have factored in the decision making process.

From a bit of internet searching, it seems that there were at least two further collisions after BR had decided to go ahead with the repair, the cost of which then easily outstripped that of demolition. The original collision by the two barges was by no means the first, the conditions in the Severn being frequently challenging for smaller vessels. It was just the first to cause damage and loss of life on such a scale. The bridge was originally built to take coal from the Forest of Dean. That last big mine closed in 1865 - whether the falling coal production had an impact on the need for the bridge, or the closure of the bridge made the mines uneconomic, I don't know, but that would have been a consideration, and all this taking place during the time of the Beeching report. A shame, but there we go.
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