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Author Topic: Reopening Cullompton and Wellington stations (merged topic)  (Read 52018 times)
ellendune
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« Reply #60 on: July 02, 2013, 06:59:03 pm »

Unfortunately this is not about what makes good sense from an 'investment in rail infrastructure' point of view, this is all about appealing to the North of England, and some of the more traditional Labour dominated marginal constituencies in the bigger Northern cities - and this approach from each of the main parties.

In the main, the west of england is not known for it's support of many Labour candidates, and indeed we do not host many key marginal constituencies which can be won over by the mere act of strategically dangling a ^ 40 Bn golden carrot in the right towns and cities.  The odds of the South West politically swinging anywhere is so slim, that successive governments have never felt the need to spend money here.  Take for example the recent move of so much of the BBC to Salford at vast expense.  I can't believe that that was no more than the then Labour government with yet another sack of golden carrots.

Unfortunately, with both of the main parties blinkered in their desire to build HS2, they are unable to see the vast possibilities and regeneration that could result from the sort of considered local investment mentioned in recent posts.

I think you are forgetting a few little facts about the geography of this island. 

The North of England has just a few more people living there than the west. Fewer people live in Devon and Cornwall than in Merseyside, which is the smallest of the metropolitan areas of the North. 

The three regions that make up the North of England have a combined population of 15 million.   Scotland is also another 5 million. The South West has only 2.5 million!   

This is not some sop to the Labour councils of the North it is a serious attempt to provide for growth in transport between the 17 million people in London and the South East and the 20 million people in Scotland and the North of England.   

The lines to the South West are not yet predicted to reach full capacity in that sort of time frame and even if they were a new line is not the obvious choice yet.  The distances to the North of England are also longer - yeas I know how far it is to Plymouth and Penzance, but the populations there just do not warrant that sort of expenditure.  Improvement of existing lines will do.

So why should the South East be interested in economic growth in the North of England? Because the overheating economy of the South East is destabilising our economy by creating unsustainable house demand. This is currently leading to unsustainable house prices which partly caused the banks to crash and will require massive house building to fix.  If the people of the Chilterns and the rest of the South East do not want their beautiful countryside completely covered in houses then they have to accept a new railway.

Why not go alongside the M40 you ask? - because that would affect far more people - except they are not the super rich who can bank-roll a publicity campaign. Why not follow the existing West Coast Main Line?  Because that would involve going through the middle of many towns and would shut the line for most weekends.  It wasn't popular last time and it carries far more traffic now. Alternatively we could just build another motorway and forget about railways - but then we are stuck when the oil runs out. Remember how we managed in 2001 with a few days fuel strikes.

That is why I am 100% for HS2 even though I do not often travel its route.

Sorry Mods I am off topic, but you can dream all you like about a few reopened branch lines, but they need to join serious population centres. 
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stuving
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« Reply #61 on: July 02, 2013, 07:06:00 pm »

Kernow Otter is quite correct Decisions on transport infrastructure by politicians are determined by politics not by the best value investment. It is often about spending money in areas with higher unemployment levels where the investment could possibly create work and jobs for the unemployed. It has not been so noticeable in the last 30 years plus because there has been so little investment in rail but it has been particularly noticeable on road investment.

And - why do the politicians talk about spending on investment when so much is on dealing with past deferred maintenance. Such spending is just trying to restore past standards such as the money recently announced supposed to be used on filling the millions of potholes - badly needed but not investment.
That's a bit too sweeping: surely decisions a never made entirely for one kind or reason. Prejudice an political motives may bias, or swing, a decision but hardly be the sole reason.

I did also wonder about that use of "invest", especially its repeated use in the "Beeching Night" programmes. However, if you think of capital investment as converting money into a physical asset, such as "railway", then not maintaining it means spending this asset instead of other money. That's disinvestment, of a kind. Replacing the lost amount of "railway substance" is then investment. In theory. I don't think it's what we mean by the term, though.

If the usual meaning of investment is something like "spending money to buy something in the expectation that its use will provide repayment over a period of time", that might explain the trouble with these infrastructure investments. They do not lead to a payback in money, or not enough of it. They have to be justified by benefits that are elsewhere, non-financial, intangible, immeasureable, undetectable, hypothetical, or whatever. These represent part of the income stream, to be added to the real income before being divided among running costs, maintenance, repayment, profit, etc. Now turning those benefits into money and giving them to (e.g.) a railway gets to be called subsidy, which may be unfair.

In the 1970s (when these "externalities" were not really accepted) subsidy was taboo, but investment was OK. So any money BR asked for had to be called "investment", but was only available if projected incomes could be tweaked enough.
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Lee
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« Reply #62 on: July 02, 2013, 07:07:41 pm »

One thing that can be difficult to avoid when discussing this kind of topic is to assume that it would be easier to re-open certain routes because they are covered by a cycle/walking path. This is often not quite the case.

Take the Bath-Bristol via Mangotsfield route for example, which forms the latter day Bristol-Bath Railway Path, a route that I have traversed on several occasions. This is indeed relatively wide and potentially rail-viable from Newbridge (west of Bath) through Kelston/Saltford, Bitton, Oldland Common, Warmley right up to Siston. Indeed, the Avon Valley Railway have actually restored part of the route between Avon Riverside and Oldland Common, running through their HQ at Bitton station.

However, once you get to Siston, your problems begin. In 1999, South Gloucestershire Council began building part of the Ring Road on the former trackbed. They did divert the path, but as anyone who has used that section will testify, its new twists, turns, gradients and bridges are completely unsuitable for railway restoration.

That said, if there really was an iron will on the part of the powers that be to restore the route through here, then modern engineering technology could probably find a solution. Unfortunately, once you are across the Ring Road, you immediately hit another problem. Whilst the section of trackbed from the Ring Road through to Mangotsfield Station is still there and in use as part of the path, it has been severely squeezed by modern housing encroachment. Indeed, I would go so far as to say you would have to knock some of it down to restore a viable railway through here again, which probably rules it out for the short to medium term.

Once you get to Mangotsfield (a disused station gem ^ in my opinion well worth a visit) the trackbed opens out significantly to become rail-viable again through Staple Hill tunnel and on to Fishponds. However, the closer you get to the centre of Bristol from thereon, the more patchy things become. Wide expanse one minute, quite narrow the next. One of the biggest obstacles on this part of the route is the Clay Bottom housing estate which was built on the trackbed. Whilst the path does its best to snake through and around the housing, rail-viable it most certainly aint. Again, the only option for rail reinstatement would be to knock some of it down.

It^s not just the non rail-viable sections such as Mangotsfield and Clay Bottom that are problematic. When plans were mooted to partly convert more viable sections for BRT, it caused one of the biggest coalitions of campaigners and public to come together to oppose them. While I^m sure that a section of this coalition would switch sides if the plans were rail-based rather than BRT, it is very likely that public opinion would still be overwhelmingly against any change of use for the path.

I should point out at this stage (as anyone who knows me will testify) that I am generally hugely in favour of rail expansion. I^ve always felt that it was a great shame that when railway station openings/re-openings such as Melksham, Ivybridge, Worle, Yate and Cam & Dursley became cool again during the period between the mid-1980s and the early 1990^s, we didn^t capitalise on that by looking more into route re-openings such as this one, when there were more people around who remembered the railway being there and the benefits it could bring, and less development on the route to overcome as well.

The problem is that now two generations have grown up not remembering the route as a railway, and have grown fond of it as a cycle/walking path that provides a green and traffic-free route into the centre of their congested city.  While most are happy to learn about and commemorate its railway past, when it comes to resurrection there is just no appetite for it, and the perceived damage to or loss of the treasured amenity they feel it would involve.

Of course, by the 1990s one of these generations had already grown up not knowing the route as a railway, and residents in general along the route had grown used to the benefits of not having a railway close by. The Avon Valley Railway discovered this to their cost when they completed their northern extension from Bitton to Oldland Common, but were prevented for years from opening it due to legal action from local residents, who ironically lived further away from the trackbed than those in Mangotsfield or Clay Bottom do today.

The AVR did eventually open their Oldland extension, later adding a platform and run-round loop there in 1999, and followed this up in 2004 with a southern extension towards Bath which terminates at Avon Riverside, the current extent of operations. Having learnt from their previous experience, they also launched a consultation with residents and interested parties on whether to proceed with a further extension north towards Warmley, in the hope that a few years of successful operations may have softened the views of the locals towards the railway.

However, with a firm and clear ^No Way Jose!^ (or words to that effect) ringing in their ears, they quickly re-focused their plans southwards towards a proposed Bath Riverside station, probably close to the point grahame envisages a new junction to the west of Bath.

You would have thought that they would have been on safe ground with this one. The segregation of path and railway procedure with Sustrans is well-established south of Bitton, and the only settlement of note along the route is the Bird In Hand pub, who are pro-rail, advertising on the AVR and selling Saltford Station Campaign mugs behind the bar. They would most likely welcome the railway passing their doorstep, particularly if a halt were built capitalising on the picturesque location and bringing mutual business to both pub and railway.

So far though, it is not to be. In recent years the AVR has been the target of a graffiti-based ^Stop The Rail Expansion^ campaign, with messages scrawled on railway infrastructure, rolling stock and the path itself. Subjects range from Thomas causing global warming to the fence separating path and railway not being pleasing to the eye. Perhaps unsurprisingly, further line expansion is on hold for the foreseeable future, with the AVR concentrating on developing facilities at their Bitton base instead.

It also strikes me that this is the kind of conversation that the new S&D folks, much maligned in the past for alleged pie-in-the-sky ideas, have on a regular basis. Their defence is that they see things in the sense of the very long-term, a time when the political, financial, economic and social implications of knocking down in-the-way buildings, reinstating structures such as bridges/embankments, diverting utilities and everything else involved in achieving their aims is outweighed by the political, financial, economic and social implications of what they see as an inevitable energy crisis.

As an aside, even they don^t think reinstating to Bath Green Park is viable, instead endorsing a very similar route to Red Squirrel^s GW from Dundas/Midford incline.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #63 on: July 02, 2013, 07:17:47 pm »

I'll take the blame for steering this off topic!

You make some good points ellendune. But what you call 'few reopened branch lines' is actually enough track mileage to completely reverse the Marples/Castle axe throughout the whole country. 4065 route miles of track were closed between the publication of 'The Reshaping of British Railways' and 1974; using the cost of the Borders Railway as a guide (^10,000,000/mile) we could reopen every mile of that and still have a billion or two left over to buy trains.

I'm not saying that we could or even should spend the money this way; I'm just trying to put the cost of the project into perspective. I like the idea of high-speed rail; it doesn't seem likely to me that we're the only developed country that doesn't need it. But goodness me it's expensive!

One thing that can be difficult to avoid when discussing this kind of topic is to assume that it would be easier to re-open certain routes because they are covered by a cycle/walking path. This is often not quite the case.

Actually that's why I picked the Borders Railway for my wet-finger-in-the-air price - they have had to knock down houses, divert a cycle path on the alignment and negotiate a major road; exactly the kind of obstacles you describe.
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ellendune
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« Reply #64 on: July 02, 2013, 07:41:16 pm »

You make some good points ellendune. But what you call 'few reopened branch lines' is actually enough track mileage to completely reverse the Marples/Castle axe throughout the whole country. 4065 route miles of track were closed between the publication of 'The Reshaping of British Railways' and 1974; using the cost of the Borders Railway as a guide (^10,000,000/mile) we could reopen every mile of that and still have a billion or two left over to buy trains.

I'm not saying that we could or even should spend the money this way; I'm just trying to put the cost of the project into perspective. I like the idea of high-speed rail; it doesn't seem likely to me that we're the only developed country that doesn't need it. But goodness me it's expensive!

One thing that can be difficult to avoid when discussing this kind of topic is to assume that it would be easier to re-open certain routes because they are covered by a cycle/walking path. This is often not quite the case.

Actually that's why I picked the Borders Railway for my wet-finger-in-the-air price - they have had to knock down houses, divert a cycle path on the alignment and negotiate a major road; exactly the kind of obstacles you describe.

OK so I exaggerated by saying a few reopened branch lines, but few would take significant inter-urban traffic.

If you have been to the borders you will see that for all the problems near Edinburgh and in Galashiels, most of the route is through some of the wildest country in the UK.  So I am not sure you cost would be enough for many of the routes you suggest.
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« Reply #65 on: July 02, 2013, 08:10:08 pm »

In fairness, RedSquirrel, I think that some of your cost estimations for reopening local lines are wildly optimistic. Take your ^120m for Ilfracombe, for example. A few years ago, reopening the Bideford line was costed at ^80m. That involves, comparatively, very little work, with only the Barnstaple Western Bypass and the old Instow level crossing being significant obstacles.

The Ilfracombe line would also have to cross the bypass. It would then have to cross the Taw on a new bridge. Even by that point, basing this cost estimate on the Western Bypass (2 miles of new road with a large bridge and three junctions cost ^42m in 2007), you're probably looking at ^50m before you've even got a mile of new track. Then you get to Braunton, where development on the old trackbed means that you'd probably have to demolish around 20 properties, relocate the village's only car park and provide a major flood relief scheme, I'm not even going to try and cost that lot up, but I suggest that your ^120m is long gone by the time you get through the village. Then there's the remaining 6 miles to build, which would include having to relocate the PALL Ilfracombe factory which isn't going to be cheap. And there's road crossings, bearing in mind that new level crossings are not allowed - new bridges are going to be extremely difficult to provide, especially at Chivenor, Velator Way and Caen Street in Braunton where there simply isn't room for new road bridges - the only way you would get a railway through that lot would be to elevate it for some 2 miles. And I'm pretty sure that proposing an elevated railway right through the middle of Braunton wouldn't go down too well. Oh, then there's stations, signalling, relocating the Tarka Trail....I don't really need to say more.
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« Reply #66 on: July 02, 2013, 08:37:02 pm »


OK so I exaggerated by saying a few reopened branch lines, but few would take significant inter-urban traffic.

[/quote]

While I totally accept that there are disproportionate numbers of people concentrated in our urban centres, and that our economy has evolved post industrial revolution to an urban/ suburban centred model, it is the complete disparity of it all that is most annoying. 

The urban centres are forever getting the massive investment schemes, (Cross Rail, Olympics, HS1, HS2, Jubilee line, Cross Rail 2, Heathrow express, Electrification, West Coast Mainline remodelling, IEP - need more ?), where as even a tiny proportion of that money wisely spent in the rural provinces has the potential to make significant and positive changes to rural life - look at the Falmouth Branch passing loop for example.

The central government spend should be far more regionally spent.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #67 on: July 02, 2013, 09:11:59 pm »


If you have been to the borders you will see that for all the problems near Edinburgh and in Galashiels, most of the route is through some of the wildest country in the UK.  So I am not sure you cost would be enough for many of the routes you suggest.


I had a stooge around up there last year, before they started work. It is indeed wild and beautiful country.

Actually I think the Borders Railway is quite a good barometer for a reopening project, which is one reason why I am following it with interest. In places the going is fairly straightforward, but they have had their fair share of physical (and political) problems and they're not done yet. 10% of the route is on a new alignment; they have to get under the Edinburgh City Bypass (which means diverting it); houses have been demolished at Galashiels and Gorebridge, an new viaduct is required over Hardengreen Roundabout; 42 new bridges are required and 95 need to be refurbished, and 7 new stations will be built. I'm sure there are lines that would cost more to reopen, but I have no reason to think the Borders Railway will be cheaper than average.
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stuving
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« Reply #68 on: July 02, 2013, 09:17:20 pm »

There's a huge elephant behind you (most of you) - it's the technical respect in which Beeching was incontrovertibly right. Minor lines (I think the wish list has avoided true branch lines, but many others were never valuable as through routes) were built to carry goods. Passengers were never a significant source of income; too few and they can walk a few miles while bricks can't. Local distribution of both people and goods is better done by road (that's been true since just after the first world war, subject to a bit of time to ramp up production and reliability of trucks and buses). No railway can ever go to enough end destinations for either. Buses and taxis can.

I'm sure a very good bus service could be provided in perpetuity for the capital cost of some of these reinstatements. The key question is which ones are worth doing as railways because that provides something better, for the same money, than a good bus service. Of course there is a subsidiary: can we actually overcome the economic prejudices that have hampered integrated transport and in particular buses as the "last mile or ten" of a rail system.
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TonyK
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« Reply #69 on: July 02, 2013, 10:31:44 pm »


The North of England has just a few more people living there than the west. Fewer people live in Devon and Cornwall than in Merseyside, which is the smallest of the metropolitan areas of the North. 

I'm doing what I can to redress the balance. I spent the first 17 years of what has been an interesting life in Lancashire, before working my way down to Cornwall and France, and have lived in Bristol for nearly 37 years, now splitting my time between there and Devon. My three "children" were all born in Bristol, one still lives here. I have, therefore, a boot in both camps, maybe even all three or quatre.

Lancashire of my childhood illustrates the problem with rail. It was once king, but lost out to the more flexible bus and the private car. Routes closed, and those that remained were run on a shoestring. The Oldham loop line, on which I took my first ever train journey, was by the end falling apart, and would have been horrendously expensive to bring up to scratch as a heavy rail line. I followed the conversion to Metro keenly - the nay-sayers were many during construction, but shut up completely on the day the first tram ran from Mumps. The town centre remains in turmoil as the route is extended through it, but there are already signs of a general improvement in the town centre. The whole project will have taken five years to complete, but its effect will be for a hundred years or more.

The Oldham Evening Chronicle from the day I was born, close to Easter in the late 17th century, lists special trains to Fleetwood, as well as the attractions to be found on the piers of Blackpool. These included the "Blacked-up Nigger Minstrels" and "G H Elliott - the Chocolate Coloured Coon", the like of which you will never see again. Fleetwood fell prey to Dr Beeching's axe, and is now one of the biggest towns in Britain without a mainline connection. During my teens, when I lived between Blackpool and Flootweed, I used to booze occasionally at the North Euston hotel (once with P J Proby, although I didn't realise it was him at the time), a magnificent building that was once the end of the line for passengers heading for Scotland from London, who would change to a steam ship for the rest of the journey to Glasgow until the WCML was built. I went to school in Blackpool and, disastrously, in Fleetwood for my truncated sixth form often by tram, which outside of summer is the quickest and most direct way. The Blackpool tram system also suffered from under-investment, but was always more than just a tourist attraction, and the pride taken in the refurbished tramway and its new Flexity trams is palpable, Plans are afoot to bring the tramway from the seafront to Blackpool North station, with a bid being scheduled for 2015. Whilst that probably means that Fleetwood will not see mainline train services for a very long time, if ever, it is a wonderful idea. In a masterpiece of planning, there are points already outside North Pier, where I saw at various times because of complimentary tickets for showing posters in my parents' version of Fawlty Towers, such as Morecambe and Wise, Mike and Bernie Winters, Freddie and the Dreamers, an unknown Paul Daniels, and Frank Carson. I was at school with Frank's son Tony, and also knew his daughter Majella, although never in the biblical sense. I met Frank a few times - lovely man, despite a few demons.

The reason for this reverie is not just to show that nostalgia isn't what it used to be, but to show why the Wellington and Cullompton reopening is such a complicated issue, despite the apparent simplicity, and why it would work. My country abode is in Bishops Nympton, about midway between Tiverton and Barnstaple, and close to South Molton. There was a Bishops Nympton and Molland station before Beeching, and you can still see the remnants by the Black Cock Inn (Warning - do not Google this term with children nearby!!) All along the former line, there are nothing like as many people as there between Blackpool and Fleetwood, or Manchester Victoria and Oldham Mumps, or Bordeaux and Libourne for that matter. The A361 was built over much of the trackbed, making reinstatement impossible without huge engineering. And, as ellendunne says, fewer people live in Devon and Cornwall than in the dark Satanic Mills oop yonder. But I am sure there is capacity on the line for a stopping service to call at Wellington and Cullompton. There may be a percieved lack of passengers, but who knows what would happen if the stations were reopened. Investment follows good transport.
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« Reply #70 on: July 02, 2013, 11:12:25 pm »

There's a huge elephant behind you (most of you) - it's the technical respect in which Beeching was incontrovertibly right. Minor lines (I think the wish list has avoided true branch lines, but many others were never valuable as through routes) were built to carry goods. Passengers were never a significant source of income; too few and they can walk a few miles while bricks can't. Local distribution of both people and goods is better done by road (that's been true since just after the first world war, subject to a bit of time to ramp up production and reliability of trucks and buses). No railway can ever go to enough end destinations for either. Buses and taxis can.

I'm sure a very good bus service could be provided in perpetuity for the capital cost of some of these reinstatements. The key question is which ones are worth doing as railways because that provides something better, for the same money, than a good bus service. Of course there is a subsidiary: can we actually overcome the economic prejudices that have hampered integrated transport and in particular buses as the "last mile or ten" of a rail system.

There is no elephant.

I don't blame Beeching for the cuts, because he didn't make any - he just wrote a report. Within the parameters he was set, there is little that can be faulted in his report. Within the paremeters he was set, he was incontrovertably right to recommend the closure of my local line; the line I use every time I go anywhere by train, and without which I would hardly ever travel by train.

If Beeching's report had been implemented in full, there would be no branch lines or local stations outside London now (and very few so-called 'cross-country' routes). The presumption was to replace local rail services with buses as soon as this was viable. The branch lines that have survived are in areas where the roads were bad in the sixties and seventies. So why haven't they closed, now that the roads have improved?

Because buses can never match the quality of rail.

I am not saying that all the lines closed in the Marples/Castle era should be re-opened; I do however think that the presumption should be that, within reason, all towns and suburbs with a population over a thousand should have a rail link. 'Last ten miles by bus' just isn't good enough.
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« Reply #71 on: July 02, 2013, 11:35:23 pm »

We need to differentiate between the question of whether a station or a line should have been closed, or whether once closed, it should be reopened. They are very different questions.

The cost of keeping something open is much less then re-opening it some 40 or 50 years later. 

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« Reply #72 on: July 03, 2013, 12:50:27 am »

There's a huge elephant behind you (most of you) - it's the technical respect in which Beeching was incontrovertibly right. Minor lines (I think the wish list has avoided true branch lines, but many others were never valuable as through routes) were built to carry goods. Passengers were never a significant source of income; too few and they can walk a few miles while bricks can't. Local distribution of both people and goods is better done by road (that's been true since just after the first world war, subject to a bit of time to ramp up production and reliability of trucks and buses). No railway can ever go to enough end destinations for either. Buses and taxis can.

I'm sure a very good bus service could be provided in perpetuity for the capital cost of some of these reinstatements. The key question is which ones are worth doing as railways because that provides something better, for the same money, than a good bus service. Of course there is a subsidiary: can we actually overcome the economic prejudices that have hampered integrated transport and in particular buses as the "last mile or ten" of a rail system.

I think it really depends on your definition of "local" in the context of local distribution. Many of us would agree that the Severn Beach line has a local passenger service, so I will use that as an example.

The passenger rail service on the Severn Beach line was listed for withdrawal and the stations along it were listed for closure in The Reshaping of British Railways, but survived through the rationalisation and general neglect of later years, including the partial bustitution of the Avonmouth-Severn Beach section, ironically a direct result of the need for a unit to serve the newly opened Filton Abbey Wood station.

Withdrawal, this time of the service beyond Clifton Down to Avonmouth & Severn Beach was again recommended in the report that helped shape the specification of the current GW franchise, but again the service lived to fight another day.

However, a few years ago, Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils were persuaded by local campaigners to subsidise the service, which led to step-change improvements in frequency, a 7 day a week service, much improved station facilities and information systems, along with better quality trains with more capacity.

This has in turn led to phenomenal increases in passenger numbers, which means that the councils now pay a significantly reduced level of subsidy, while retaining all of the above benefits.

Having travelled on the improved services a fair bit, I have often heard people say how much faster and more convenient the train service is compared to the bus alternatives, which probably does provide an answer in itself regarding which mode of transport is the better provider in this instance.

It certainly strikes me as an excellent example of how to spend local taxpayers money wisely, and I doubt I am alone in that analysis.
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« Reply #73 on: July 03, 2013, 01:56:49 am »

I have often heard people say how much faster and more convenient the train service is compared to the bus alternatives

And in most cases, cheaper too. For example:

Shirehampton to City Centre, by bus ^3.90 return
Shirehampton to Temple Meads, by train ^3.00 return

A weekly season ticket on the bus valid from Shirehampton ^18.50
A weekly season ticket on the train ^9.00

Admittedly, the bus season is 'go anywhere' on First Buses in Bristol Zones 1&2, but I'm not sure that double the price of the train represents good value. Especially if you are only doing an out and return commute. I've chatted to one regular commuter at Shirehampton, who despite having the 40/41 buses stopping adjacent to her place of work, takes the train to Temple Meads and walks. Her annual season on the Severn Beach Line is ^360, versus ^800 for a bus annual season.
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grahame
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« Reply #74 on: July 03, 2013, 09:17:49 am »

The average bus journey in the UK is 6 miles, the average train journey is 20 miles.  I'm on holiday / not got my source with me, but you get the picture. Buses are indeed great for the local feed, but how local is "local".  As an example, I'm looking at Corsham to London - Corsham was one of the places I mentioned for a new wayside station earlier in this thread.   Between Batheaston Junction and Royal Wootton Bassett Junction, with two express trains an hour, a more local service could be accommodated without the need for huge expenditure such as 4 tracks.  From Royal Wootton Bassett Junction to Didcot, extra stations will need major major track investment with 6 or 7 expresses per hour to accommodate as well!

Anyway ... here's the start of the forthcoming (28th July onwards) timetable for the 231 bus route, which becomes the only frequent bus linking Bath via Corsham to Chippenham;   232 services have become 231s.   The half hourly (5 and 35 from Bath) of the 08:05 and 08:35 continue all through the day, same intermediate timings.



Now - journey from Corsham to London. 

Timing ...

* Get the 08:52 bus, that's 09:16 at Chippenham station. Train leaves at 09:25, into London at 10:40.  End to end journey - 108 minutes.

* If that train called at Corsham (that would be around 09:15), journey time would be reduced to 85 minutes.  If a local train called at Corsham and a Wootton Basset stations before transferring passenger at Swindon to the London Express, I would estimate a 95 minute journey.

Loading ...

Corsham is a town of some 12000 people - about half the size of Melksham, vwey roughtly the same size as Westbury.  You're looking at between 200,000 and 250,000 passenger journeys per year based on other Wiltshire stations such as Warminster and Trowbridge (excluding the likes of Chippenham which is a railhead sponge, and Melksham which has insufficient service at present to make a valid comparison)

Many train journeys will be to Bath, Bristol and Swindon and the local or express service will do equally well.   Studies show a 40% drop in traffic if a service is not direct, and that would apply only to the London traffic / localish train - let's estimate a drop of around 20,000 journeys a year

The bus service, 41 minutes to Bath as opposed to 10 by train is unattractive for that local journey. And for all the other major destinations, you have a slow bus journey, connection time, and then a train - and we've found that over 75% of potential traffic gets lost in such transfers, and that's actually a very conservative figure indeed bearing in mind it comes from rail replacement bus service loadings where you have the benefits of through ticketing, and fastER bus journeys (not all round the houses) and guaranteed connections to the trains.

Observing bus journeys between towns in Wiltshire, around two thirds get on close to one town centre, then off close to another town centre.  And must be very frustrated by the sightseeing tours (231) of Rudloe and Cepen Park

All this evidence points to the sense of (re)opening selected stations on existing lines where the capacity is there and will be there for the next 15 to 20 years.   For the truely local / in town / nearby villages, totally agreed that the bus is best.  But even for some of them, the opening of selected intermediate stations makes a big difference. Rudloe to Swindon would be 15 minutes faster via Corsham station than via Chippenham - 45 minutes versus an hour.

P.S. If you attract all these extra people onto the Corsham to Bath train, you'll also help Bath with its traffic problem on the A4 approach.  Some of the extras will be new travellers, others will be transferring from their cars, typically one person per 4 seat vehicle queueing all the way in!


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