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Author Topic: Bridport branch reopening proposal  (Read 8389 times)
Hal
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« on: January 14, 2021, 15:07:47 »

A new effort is under way to reopen the Bridport branch. The Bridport & Lyme Regis News quotes the promoters as saying it would be a narrow-gauge line, more like a tram than a railway.

Passenger-carrying trains would be powered by battery and hydrogen, according to the plan.

And it would include the whole of the old line ? from West Bay to Maiden Newton.

The Bridport Renewal group is trying to raise GBP 50,000 to fund a full feasibility study.

Details here:
http://www.bridportrenewal.org.uk
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2021, 17:19:20 »

A new effort is under way to reopen the Bridport branch

Excellent overview of this proposal at today's TWSW» (TravelWatch SouthWest - website) webinar.
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PhilWakely
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2021, 18:48:38 »

Although I no longer have any direct connection with Bridport [both my parents and all grandparents came from Bridport or surrounding villages], I have retained an interest in 'the Bridport railway'. I think this is a very exciting project, but worry about the cost of 'reinstating' between the Bradpole level crossing and West Bay, between which I understand the line has been pretty much obliterated (?) and also around Toller station.




*** edited to correct a spelling error ***
« Last Edit: January 16, 2021, 05:22:10 by PhilWakely » Logged
bradshaw
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2021, 20:13:40 »

The attached screenshot shows the route of the proposal, in red. The black line shows the original route.

The route from West Bay seems to follow the River Brit all the way to the north of Bridport before turning to reach the original line.
From Loders the track bed is a permissive path as far as the Powerstock Common nature reserve. It then passes through private land as far as the Cattistock Road bridge from which it is a public path to Maiden Newton station.

There was another proposal railway in the 2000s
https://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/1768145.one-mans-promise-to-build-light-railway/

I would like to know the understanding of the potential passengers.
Normally, there is a half hourly bus from Bridport to Axminster, thence hourly to Dorchester and Weymouth which is quicker than the intended rail route.

In the 1880s, the Bridport Railway was concerned about connections at Maiden Newton and proposed running powers over the line to Dorchester. The result was the extension to West Bay and the doubling of the line to Dorchester, with the development of West Bay as a tourist resort. The connections at Maiden Newton would still be a problem unless they are looking at a tourist railway but with modern traction.
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PhilWakely
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2021, 20:48:43 »

I would like to know the understanding of the potential passengers.
Normally, there is a half hourly bus from Bridport to Axminster, thence hourly to Dorchester and Weymouth which is quicker than the intended rail route.

In the 1880s, the Bridport Railway was concerned about connections at Maiden Newton and proposed running powers over the line to Dorchester. The result was the extension to West Bay and the doubling of the line to Dorchester, with the development of West Bay as a tourist resort. The connections at Maiden Newton would still be a problem unless they are looking at a tourist railway but with modern traction.

I am assuming that the primary purpose would be connecting the 'renewal villages' of Loders, Powerstock and Toller Porcorum to Bridport and a potential secondary use as a tourist line between West Bay and (say) Loders. As you suggest, I cannot imagine that the thinking would be connecting the above communities with Dorchester.
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bradshaw
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2021, 21:20:47 »

The village of Powerstock is some distance from the railway line. The original station, which is at Nettlecombe, is in private hands Both Loders and Powerstock have a significant second home/holiday cottage element, in the former probably as high as 30%.

The bus service which ceased a few years ago saw little custom and was primarily a school service in the morning and afternoon.
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2021, 12:28:32 »


Bridport lost its rail service in 1970 - a branch line from Maiden Newton on the Heart of Wessex line (Weymouth - Dorchester - Yeovil - Frome - Westbury) to the main town station, which had extended in the past to West Bay, originally known as "Bridport Harbour".  Since closure, Bridport has expanded dramatically, with further expansion expected, and can become gridlocked with tourists in summer.

The Jurassic Coast Railway is a proposal for a narrow gauge (2'6") line from West Bay, via a park and ride at Broomhill where the line's depot and HQ (Headquarters) will be, Skilling, Bridport Town Centre, Court Orchard and Pyemore, rejoining the route of the old Bridport branch just before Lodors before following it through Powerstock and Toller to Maiden Newton.  The proposal is for a community railway, locally looked after and run, using battery or hydrogen powered trains, and running all year.

The proposals are at early stages, and are so innovative in many aspects that there is a need to bring people on board and in support, but a very great deal of thought has been given to many of the key questions that are being asked.  Models such as the Welsh Highland Line, which was rebuilt generations after the original railway was scrubbed out and runs across / along the main road in Porthmadog are quoted as something of a parallel, and with a trackbed that originally carried a broad gauge railway, diagrams show that there is room for the railway line to share with a cycle and foot path.

More at

http://www.bridportrenewal.org.uk/
http://www.bridportrenewal.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Bridport-Renewal-Vision-07-01-2020.pdf

Coverage in Bridport News

Quote
It's been almost half a century since trains ran from Bridport, and the branch line from West Bay to Maiden Newton is now only a memory.

But a group is now trying to resurrect the line with a new idea for a sustainable railway link.

It's a monumental task ? the costs would be astronomical and much of the former branch line route, especially through Bridport, has been built on.

The line was pulled up in 1975 and little trace of it remains in some places.

But the group strongly believes its 'zero carbon' public transport scheme involving a 'tram-like' train on a narrow gauge line should be considered in discussions about future transport solutions, and they want to involve the community and see what support there is for the plan.

It's very early days in the Bridport Branch Renewal Corridor project and the group is currently seeking ?50,000 so they can undertake a full feasibility study.

Their vision involves a narrow gauge passenger railway from West Bay to Maiden Newton, with train units powered by battery and hydrogen.

As much as possible their railway would follow the old route from West Bay via Bridport, Bradpole, Loders, Powerstock, Toller Porcorum and to the junction at Maiden Newton, which is on the Weymouth to Bristol line. Plans also include building walkways and cycle paths.





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bradshaw
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2021, 08:28:04 »

An earlier scheme, the Brit Valley Railway, was put forward in 1996. The attached images are from the late Brian Jackson?s Bridport Branch book (2nd edition)
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grahame
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2021, 08:49:58 »

An earlier scheme, the Brit Valley Railway, was put forward in 1996. The attached images are from the late Brian Jackson?s Bridport Branch book (2nd edition)

from your images:

Quote
A leading railway magazine reporting on the matter took a jaundiced view, remarking
Quote
Both are the sort of schemes that make seasoned preservationists wake up screaming at 3 am. Not surprisingly, neither has names associated with it that are known in the movement. But l hope that they do not disappear without trace too soon - they could provide railway connoisseurs with a lot of innocent amusement as they fight it out.

A dangerous view ... I can look at projects that are screamingly obvious and have never happened, and others which were slated as "fanciful" and "not a hope in hell" that have been and remain very successful - to the extent that people forget that early concern. There is nothing recent in this sort of apparent absurdity - I am not going to give current examples, but I do recall that at the time of Beeching, on the Wilts, Somerset and  Weymouth line the stations at Chetnole and Thornford survived, but the station at Melksham closed.

Edit to add for those not familiar with the geography of my example - current populations - Chetnole around 350, Melksham around 25,000 and whilst Melksham has grown, it's not grown "that much" ...
« Last Edit: January 17, 2021, 08:55:43 by grahame » Logged

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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2021, 17:34:55 »

I have been taking editorials in the railway press with a healthy pinch of salt since the 1960s.

Lest we forget, in the mid 60s those editorials, especially in Railway World as I recall, were banging on about there being far too many madcap or otherwise preservation schemes being proposed with, they said, little chance of finding enough volunteers to operate them and even less chance of the fare paying public turning up in sufficient numbers to keep them going.

No, they said, we should concentrate on two; one in the North the KWVR and one in the south, the Bluebell. There were many railway enthusiasts who took no notice, and a sizeable chunk of the population today who are glad that they took no notice.

Go not to the railway press editorials to seek reliable wisdom and advice.

But getting back to the plot, I think Graham is making a false comparison with Melksham, Thornford Bridge and Chetnole. In the past population figures cut no ice at all (qv. Gosport)  but simply on whether that line or station was deemed to be making any money. The only valid objections that the TUCCs were obliged to hear were for cases of hardship, and even that was hard to make stick. With the best will in the world, given that even back then there were plenty of buses to where people wanted to go and/ or to a nearby railhead it would have been impossible to argue a hardship case for Melksham.

That may not have been the case for Thornford Bridge and Chetnole, and indeed hardship was the reason that the Bridport branch avoided the Beeching Axe and lasted until 1975. In case anybody is interested I have posted a couple of driver?s eye view shots from the branch on the last day on Flickr:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/93122458@N08/30692423945/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/93122458@N08/30604286981/

« Last Edit: January 17, 2021, 19:53:55 by Robin Summerhill » Logged
WSW Frome
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« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2021, 17:36:33 »

I thought Pink Flying Pigs were extinct by now, even in the depths of West Dorset!

Now Bridport and West Dorset have indeed changed markedly since the period prior to the closure of the (never very successful) branch line. The area has arguably become much more prosperous with a new incoming population. That said it might be argued that a line from Bridport to West Bay could be a useful link and tourist attraction (as per comment elsewhere). The remaining proposal would have almost zero public transport benefit that could justify the investment. The current locals currently manage as they can with the current transport (personal or public) provisions and many will continue to use their BMW's and Mercedes, possibly with electric traction.
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grahame
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« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2021, 12:47:00 »

In the last week, I've learned a very great deal about the Bridport proposals and had the opportunity to discuss many concerns with people involved. Although not possible for me to explore the evidence behind every answer given, I have concluded that the scheme is well thought out, with the concerns well noted, but in reality not being concerns to the practical delivery and economic case.  For example, the lack of intermediate business from Toller and Powerstock is no more of an issue to the overall viability than the lack of intermediate business at Chetnole and Thornford is to the overall viability of the Heart of Wessex line.

I am resisting the temptation to write a very long set of answers to so many questions - rather a technical paper describing the project and what it does is needed - followed by an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) that sets out all the benefits and explains how the feature tackle them, and sets out the various issues raised, with explanations of how the scheme overcomes them, isn't intended to answer them in the first place, or enhances rather than hinders.  At this point, I am reasonably convinced that such a paper can be written, look good, and refer back to technical appendixes which sort out the nitty gritty.
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bradshaw
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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2021, 13:39:52 »


From the Bridport News website today

https://www.bridportnews.co.uk/news/19027577.group-behind-bridport-community-railway-happy-response/

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grahame
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« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2023, 10:29:46 »

Rather sadly (IMHO (in my humble opinion)) this proposal seems to have faded away.  I travelled to West Bay yesterday and it was packed - and that included the bus back to Weymouth which was full and standing when we set off - and it's up to an hourly double deck service at the moment.  I suspect that West Bay does not NEED the extra people and it has oodles of car parks, but never the less, a narrow gauge from Maiden Newton to Bridport and West Bay, closed as standard gauge many years ago, should perhaps have its tine again.
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bradshaw
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« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2023, 15:28:26 »

There was a previous scheme in 1996 - the Brit Valley Railway which got no further than a brochure. The initial plan was to go up the bank of the River Brit to Bridport and then loop around to link with the old trackbed.
In 2006 this transmogrified into the Jurassic Coast Railway which went no further
Details on link below. There is only one director at present according to Companies House.
https://www.national-preservation.com/threads/brit-valley-jurassic-coast-railway.16697/
Some other detail here.
In Bridport the trackbed from the old station site(now the Coop) towards West Bay forms the A3066 Sea Road North to the site of the East Street Station. From there it forms the A35 (Sea Road South to the Crown Roundabout. From Burton Road Bridge it is a cycleway/footpath to West Bay.
Any restoration would need a new route, unlikely in my opinion.
The recent proposal, mentioned in my previous post, I cannot see being economic.
I feel the value lies in developing the cycle/walking scheme from Maiden Newton along the old line.
Currently the line can be walked from Loders to Powerstock Common as a permissive footpath, very useful to get to the Marquis of Lorne for lunch.
From the entrance of the Reserve to line has been improved all the way to Toller Procorum in recent times.
Then it is a farm track to the outskirts of Maiden Newton, private I believe.
Finally there is a footpath from the station at Maiden Newton to the Chilfrome Road.
Linking all these into a single scheme, in my mind, is the best solution.
When first closed in 1975 the branch was inspected by David Shepherd as a possible reopening but he eventually decided on the East Somerset Railway instead. The problem was, I believe, the condition of Wytherstone Cutting, which slipped often and still dies to the present day.

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