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Author Topic: Stonehenge tunnel - speeding up travel from London to the South West  (Read 347 times)
grahame
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« on: January 23, 2020, 06:59:10 am »

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago ...

Former Shadow Transport Secretary Chris Grayling gives his view in the link below.
http://www.westpress.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=146238&command=displayContent&sourceNode=146064&contentPK=18115337&folderPk=100268&pNodeId=145795

Quotes :

"Over the past 10 years, the South West has had promise after promise of improvements to its transport systems - such as getting on with the Stonehenge tunnel and improving services on the Severn Beach railway line.

Most of the bigger promises haven't happened because Gordon Brown's Treasury blocked them.

So will things change now he's Prime Minister? His first action on transport was to publish a White Paper on what our rail system should look like for the next 30 years. A revolution for rail commuters in Bristol?

Well no, not exactly. The word Bristol appears only once in 155 pages of text, and then, believe it or not, only buried in the small print. No change there, then."

Severn Beach still every 40 minutes (with half hourly possible in theory) but improvements in the Bristol Area so we have four tracks up Filton Bank (allowing superexprss trains for London, stock movements from Stoke Gifford, etc) and Metrobus (so that people can sit on a nicer, newer bus in traffic jams.  Let's call those things "work in progress" as we have been promised better - such as MetroWest.   Portishead would be nice, so would more than one train an hour calling at Keynsham, and a decent service from Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road to Bristol Parkway.

The other element quoted - here's an update from the New Civil Engineer - is the Stonehenge tunnel which is at bidding stage.   Unsurprisingly, no-one local is bidding to dig the thing:

Quote
Major UK contractors snub Stonehenge Tunnel as JVs revealed

17 DEC, 2019   BY MARK HANSFORD

Highways England is standing firm on its decision to procure the £1.25bn Stonehenge tunnel as a single-stage tender, despite all UK tier 1 contractors refusing to bid the job.

The roads body has opted to go for a single-stage tender – where design and build contractors must submit and then stick to their price for the job at the end of a competitive dialogue process, and before contract award - potentially before final designs and construction methods are agreed.


Quote
The 3.3km long, twin-bore tunnel is part of the plan to upgrade 13km of the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down road, which runs through the Stonehenge site.

The scheme has been mired in controversy with environmental and heritage groups objecting to tunnel portals inside the World Heritage Site. The scheme was due to be privately-financed, but will now be publicly funded after the government axed the PFI financing model in the Autumn 2018 Budget.

The three Stonehenge tunnel bidders are now entering a competitive dialogue process which will give a period of design development and dialogue during the tender phase when solutions are developed and tested for compliance with development consent order requirements prior to awarding a contract.

Critically there is no option to adjust prices at the end of the process. Highways England says the approach will allow for greater flexibility with the appointed team able to “hit the ground running” once the contract is awarded, which is expected to be in early 2021.

Works for the contractor will include design and construction of civil, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP), technology and environmental components. Subject to approval, construction is due to start in 2021 and be completed in 2026.

I recall some 30 years ago visiting A&AEE (Aircraft and Armarments Establishment), Boscombe Down, Amesbury on business and seeing a map of all the proposals over the years to improve the road past Stonehenge - and a comment from my contacts there that if there were all built there would be nothing but tarmac for half a mile in all directions from the stones.

Local (within Wiltshire) traffic on the A303's current route past Stonehenge is minimal, with the big users being people passing from London and the Home Counties on their way west to Yeovil and Taunton, Devon and Cornwall.  Some stop to see the stones; many more on their first time past slow down and stare at the sight and that gawping alone is, I suspect, the cause of much of the jams and many accidents as the traffic slows down and the drivers fail to concentrate.

Passenger transport that's not in private cars along this part of the A303?  There may be some long distance coaches (National Express, Megabus, Berry's Superfast) and there are plenty of coaches headed for the visitor's centre on London - Stonehenge - Bath - London sightseers.  I don't see a huge rise in long distance coaches coming with the tunnel (and I wonder how other tight spots such as the Blackdown Hills are being dealt with).  I can't help feeling that for the future, enhancing capacity on the parallel railway through Salisbury, and electrifying it, would provide a more sustainable and quicker way of achieving the holy grail of getting masses of people from London to the Western Peninsular.  Having said which ... the ideal solution is measures at Stonehenge and a decent, double tracked, modern, main line railway.  Like we had (modern in its time) when LSWR ran it at the start of the last century, perhaps?
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eXPassenger
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2020, 05:52:28 pm »

Re the Blackdown Hills the trunk road will turn North at Ilminster and join the M5 at Taunton.
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Clan Line
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2020, 08:56:27 pm »

I'm afraid I must disagree with some of your comments regarding a "solution" to the Stonehenge problem Grahame.

Local traffic on the A303 past Stonehenge is certainly not "minimal" - and a lot of it is freight traffic..........count the number of Home Bargains lorries you see around the county (and beyond) all of which start at Amesbury.   If you drive West past the stones, then right at Long Barrow Roundabout, then left (at the old Airman's Cross jct) you will see a steady stream of traffic heading along the A360 towards Devizes. This traffic used to pass the stones on the A344, now it just clogs up the stretch up to Long Barrow.
Upgrading the LSWR line from Salisbury to the West will improve (and probably increase) the flow along this route, it does need it - but, it will make no difference to the traffic flow past Stonehenge. The vast majority of visitors to the "Western Peninsular" need a car to get around having arrived there, the most sensible and cost effective way to do that is to take your own with you.

The Stonehenge bypass has long been one of those solid gold, platinum plated, diamond studded projects about which no has had the strength of character (guts !) to say "enough" !
Many, many years ago there was an eminently sensible proposal to re-route the 303 well to the South of Amesbury where it would become part of a proper (A30/A36/A303) bypass system around Salisbury and sort out many of the traffic problems through the Wylye Valley. This "died a death".  Another possible solution which covered the most contentious part of the route from Countess to Long Barrow Roundabouts involved placing another carriageway alongside the existing one, then raising an earth bank between this new dual carriageway and the stones. The stones and the traffic would not be visible to either. The lie of the land past the stones is such that a bank to do this would not have to be of a great height. The most difficult bit, over the hill from Amesbury, would be achieved by placing the road in an "open sided tunnel" which would not require forced ventilation. This too died a death - too simple, I suppose ?

What will happen at Stonehenge ? I forecast the road traffic version of HS2............... costs will rocket and people will still be arguing about it in 2100. Just look at how long it took to build a new visitors centre at Stonehenge to replace what had to be one of the most disgusting "attractions" on earth...........even Stone Age man would have thought twice about using the "facilities" there. 

Would I be cynical if I were to opine that if Stonehenge were 50 miles nearer to London the problem would have been sorted years ago ?? Or perhaps Greta has a solution.......
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2020, 06:53:12 am »

Local traffic on the A303 past Stonehenge is certainly not "minimal" - and a lot of it is freight traffic..........count the number of Home Bargains lorries you see around the county (and beyond) all of which start at Amesbury.   If you drive West past the stones, then right at Long Barrow Roundabout, then left (at the old Airman's Cross jct) you will see a steady stream of traffic heading along the A360 towards Devizes. This traffic used to pass the stones on the A344, now it just clogs up the stretch up to Long Barrow.

I used to use the A344 route as part of my regular commute ... now getting to be quite a time ago, and I fear that means that my previous comment was too much based on what's now history.  The old route was off the A303, passing to the right of the stones and the left of the car park and straight ahead at Airman's Cross towards Devizes, or forking off at Shrewton onto the B490 for Warminster.   Agreed, that traffic now stays on and clogs up the single carriageway, "I-see-the-stones" section of the A303.

Distribution from Amesbury, again, very much grown.  Not a great deal within Wiltshire to the west along the A303, but no doubt that feeds further west.
 
Quote
Upgrading the LSWR line from Salisbury to the West will improve (and probably increase) the flow along this route, it does need it - but, it will make no difference to the traffic flow past Stonehenge. The vast majority of visitors to the "Western Peninsular" need a car to get around having arrived there, the most sensible and cost effective way to do that is to take your own with you.

Which is why I wrote "the ideal solution is measures at Stonehenge and a decent, double tracked, modern, main line railway."

Quote
Many, many years ago there was an eminently sensible proposal to re-route the 303 well to the South of Amesbury where it would become part of a proper (A30/A36/A303) bypass system around Salisbury and sort out many of the traffic problems through the Wylye Valley. This "died a death". 

There was something similar in the latest round of "which route shall we go for" but it was clearly included in such a way as to show that the solution chosen (already!) was the right one.

Quote
What will happen at Stonehenge ? I forecast the road traffic version of HS2............... costs will rocket and people will still be arguing about it in 2100. Just look at how long it took to build a new visitors centre at Stonehenge to replace what had to be one of the most disgusting "attractions" on earth...........even Stone Age man would have thought twice about using the "facilities" there. 

Goodness knows; the article I quoted to start this thread suggests that final price bids are required so that costs can't go up later.  And as a result, all the UK prime bidders have pulled out leaving the field open to consortia from elsewhere in Europe.  Have they that extra wisdom to get it right, broad shoulders to take any hit if they find problems, or are the prepared to take on the government in court like some other companies and consortia are doing over franchise bids?
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2020, 07:04:02 am »

Re-route HS2?
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2020, 04:29:41 pm »

Re-route HS2?
HSH? High Speed Henge! Well, there are some who say it was a neolithic interchange...
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froome
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2020, 05:29:12 pm »

Re-route HS2?
HSH? High Speed Henge! Well, there are some who say it was a neolithic interchange...

Yes, the original rolling stone.  Cheesy
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