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Author Topic: Stroud Valley Line Double - Track Proposal Update  (Read 20084 times)
Lee
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« on: October 01, 2007, 03:00:55 pm »

Here is the latest on this (link below.)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/gloucestershire/7021498.stm

Quote from Andrew Griffiths :

"At the moment, it's rather like traffic lights, you have to wait for one lot to go before the lights change to let the other lot go,"

Here is a background link.
http://www.savethetrain.org.uk/forum/index.php?topic=600.msg1796#msg1796
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Lee
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2007, 11:00:56 am »

Network Rail sounding positive - but still no committment (link below.)
http://thisissomerset.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=147472&command=displayContent&sourceNode=242195&contentPK=19377882&folderPk=113662&pNodeId=251478
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Lee
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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2008, 05:50:06 pm »

Following a meeting of its investment board, Network Rail has decided not to invest in the plans until more research is done (link below.)
http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=231771&command=displayContent&sourceNode=231774&contentPK=19589068&folderPk=108867&pNodeId=231888

The announcement has sparked fears that the project will be scrapped altogether.

Cotswolds MP (Member of Parliament) Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said the decision was a "betrayal".

"Network Rail has been stringing commuters along for months believing they might see an improvement to their service through the dualling of the track," he said. "Their hopes have now been dashed."

First Great Western spokesman Chris Mitchell said: "We're still investigating how to bring the project into fruition. It hasn't been shelved, we just haven't ironed out some of the stumbling blocks."

Prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for Cheltenham Mark Coote said he was disappointed.

"We're crying out for rail infrastructure in this part of the country. It's dire," he said.

"We could now be looking at a decade of complete inaction for a piece of the line which would make a huge difference to reliability and quality of travel."

A Network Rail spokesman said the costs of the scheme were under review.
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Lee
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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2008, 11:03:36 am »

From what we know of the reasons behind Network Rail's decision to put the scheme on hold, they seem to tally with Christian Wolmar's prediction of October 2006 :

Network Rail says the scheme is currently in the first stage of the GRIP (Guide to Railway Investment Projects) (the eight-stage Guide to Railway Investment Projects) and a feasibility study is being carried out. If the results are positive , work could start as early as 2008/09. (link below.)
http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/articles/rail/551.shtml

Before we get too excited , Wolmar also raises some other points including :

"There are, of course, a whole host of difficulties ahead. No costing is available so far and the work may prove to be more difficult than expected. When the track was singled, it was moved to the middle because of concerns about weak embankments, and both moving the track and shoring up the embankments will add to the costs. When Chiltern and Railtrack redoubled just nine miles of plain line track between Bicester and Aynho junctions three years ago, the bill was a staggering ^60m.Therefore, it would not take much for a relatively modest scheme like Swindon to Kemble to reach three figures quite easily."

Note also a further quote from the CW (Christian Wolmar (rail journalist)) article :

Quote
There are dozens of worthwhile schemes with strong business cases that only require the will and a bit of cash. For example, I was recently sent the proposal to reopen Kenilworth station between Coventry and Leamington Spa which would provide three times the amount of benefits compared with its ^4m cost. Network Rail^s ability to bring these schemes to fruition is an important test of whether the current structure is a viable way to run the railway.

In the grand scheme of things, we are talking about redoubling a 14-mile stretch of line, which is a key diversionary route and requires no extra platforms to be built.

If Network Rail cant pull this one off, then how likely is it that they could manage a more complex scheme such as (say) redoubling the Cotswold line?
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2008, 10:23:07 pm »

Am i missing something but its not 14 miles from Swindon to Kemble is it?
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2008, 10:34:58 pm »

Am i missing something but its not 14 miles from Swindon to Kemble is it?


It's not.

It's only 13 miles 56chain.

But thats only just over a quarter mile short of 14 miles
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« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2008, 03:46:21 pm »

If the proposal only considers the re-laying the track and does not include upgrades to the signaling then the difference to delays will be minimal. Currently you have 1 signal at the Swindon end (in the down direction) to enter the single line and a signal at the Kemble end to exit it. About three quarters of the way through you have distant signal and a main signal protecting a crossing.

If there was no addition signalling installed a train would still have to travel 13 miles 56 chains (I'll take smokeys word for that) from Swindon before another could enter into the section. It takes about 12 or 13 minutes to travel the distance.

A upgrade of all the signals between Swindon and Standish Junction is what is required also if this project gets the go ahead!

A simaler upgrade of track from single to doulbe track in Cornwall, I have heard did not not include the replacement of the signalling system!
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Lee
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2008, 04:16:41 pm »

Some good points raised there, and I am reminded of Industry Insider's post regarding a more modest Cotswold Line proposal :

I personally think that complete re-doubling of the whole line will not get approved any time soon due to the costs involved, whilst Graham is right in that earthworks are largely in place, the track in many sections has been realigned to allow higher speeds and slews from one side of the former double track to the other, so unfortunately it's not just a case of plonking another track down next to the existing one.

Also, Lee has a valid point regarding Ascott-U-W, Combe and Finstock. As well as those smaller stations, the larger stations at Hanborough, Charlbury, Honeybourne and Pershore would have to have additional platforms added (though the old platforms are substantially complete still at Honeybourne and Pershore).

Personally, I think that a more modest scheme should be called for as (given the current cost or re-instating railway infrastructure) that is much more likely to be funded, and would provide real, tangible improvements that are deperately required so that a punctual, slightly faster, hourly (half-hourly in peak) service can operate.

I would suggest some, if not all, of the following improvements covering the Oxford-Norton Junction section should be included (although many of the problems with capacity are connected with the outdated signalling and track layouts at Worcester and Malvern too of course!)

1) Resignalling with colour-light Track Circuit Block signals throughout, replacing Norton Junction, Evesham, Moreton and Ascott signalboxes and associated token equipment.
2) Redoubling of short sections immediately beyond Wolvercote and Norton Juntions to enable trains waiting to go onto the single line to not have to block the main line whilst they wait.
3) Passing loops to be installed within the single track sections to virtually double capacity for service recovery, one in the Pershore area, one in the Chipping Camden area, and one between Finstock and Hanborough (there are two long straight sections of track which are ideal for this as the track has not been moved from the original days).
4) Line-speed increases from 75 to 90+ on most of the Moreton to Evesham section (with the exception of Aston Magna curve and possibly between Camden Tunnel and Honeybourne where track curvature would prevent this).
5) Upgrade of Switches & Crossings (S&C (Settle and Carlisle )) at Norton Junction in the down directon to increase linespeed from 25mph to 70mph.
6) Upgrade of S&C at Evesham to allow 50mph working throughout station area.
7) Upgrade of S&C at Moreton to increase up direction working off the single line from 15mph to 40mph.
Cool Upgrade of S&C at Ascott so that up trains can enter the single line section at 75mph instead of 40mph.
9) Upgrade of S&C at Wolvercote Junction from 40mph to 60mph both directions.

Apologies if this is a little in-depth, but I believe that a good financial case could be made for the above schemes, and that they would help to vastly reduce delays on the Cotswold Line, give adequate capacity for an hourly off-peak service (with room for extra trains in the peak) and also speed up services so that Worcester is within the important aspirational journey time of 1hour to Oxford and 2hrs to London whilst largely maintaining the current calling patterns.

What do people think?
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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2008, 04:32:16 pm »

If the proposal only considers the re-laying the track and does not include upgrades to the signaling then the difference to delays will be minimal. Currently you have 1 signal at the Swindon end (in the down direction) to enter the single line and a signal at the Kemble end to exit it. About three quarters of the way through you have distant signal and a main signal protecting a crossing.

If there was no addition signalling installed a train would still have to travel 13 miles 56 chains (I'll take smokeys word for that) from Swindon before another could enter into the section. It takes about 12 or 13 minutes to travel the distance.

A upgrade of all the signals between Swindon and Standish Junction is what is required also if this project gets the go ahead!

A simaler upgrade of track from single to doulbe track in Cornwall, I have heard did not not include the replacement of the signalling system!

But you don't have to wait for a train coming the other way, which may well have had to wait for the preceding train in the same direction as you are travelling.

I would have thought halving the amount of single track would be a good compromise, particularly as the main benefits seem to be when the Severn Tunnel is closed, so full dualling appears an expensive option for a diversionary route.
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Lee
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2008, 04:36:44 pm »

I would have thought halving the amount of single track would be a good compromise, particularly as the main benefits seem to be when the Severn Tunnel is closed, so full dualling appears an expensive option for a diversionary route.

I would imagine they will want to put additional (not just diversionary) freight through as well.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2008, 04:38:33 pm by Lee Fletcher » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2008, 08:04:22 pm »

I know that you all think I'm obsessed with the Cotswold Line, but I think that the Cotswold line is more important here.  Angry

But of course, any redoubling is welcomed.  Smiley
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John R
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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2008, 09:21:38 pm »

If it's one or the other then I think the Cotswold Line should get it, as the single line sections are clearly having a very adverse impact on services in the way that I haven't heard they do on the Kemble Line.

But of course, it shouldn't have to be "one or the other".
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Lee
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2008, 12:40:01 pm »

But of course, it shouldn't have to be "one or the other".

I agree, John.

Both schemes would (if implemented in an appropriate manner) improve reliability and diversionary potential. However, it is worth pointing out some key differences between the two (as well as those already mentioned) :

- There is more emphasis on potential new passenger services in the Cotswolds scheme than there is in the Stroud Valley scheme.

- The Stroud Valley line is more suitable (currently at least) for extra freight trains than the Cotswolds line is (W8 guage versus W6 guage.)

I also note that Network Rail have revised their tonnage growth forecasts downwards for both lines. These were classed as "High" but are now classed as "Low."

Does this indicate that Network Rail were keen on implementing both schemes, but are no longer quite so enthusiastic?

On the other hand, Andrew Haines did recently express optimism regarding the prospects for Cotswold line enhancements.
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« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2008, 12:49:44 pm »

But of course, it shouldn't have to be "one or the other".

I agree, John.

Both schemes would (if implemented in an appropriate manner) improve reliability and diversionary potential. However, it is worth pointing out some key differences between the two (as well as those already mentioned) :

- There is more emphasis on potential new passenger services in the Cotswolds scheme than there is in the Stroud Valley scheme.

- The Stroud Valley line is more suitable (currently at least) for extra freight trains than the Cotswolds line is (W8 guage versus W6 guage.)

I also note that Network Rail have revised their tonnage growth forecasts downwards for both lines. These were classed as "High" but are now classed as "Low."

Does this indicate that Network Rail were keen on implementing both schemes, but are no longer quite so enthusiastic?

On the other hand, Andrew Haines did recently express optimism regarding the prospects for Cotswold line enhancements.


Something to bear in mind, The Board of Trade (yes the Government) considered when railways opened (in the 18xx's) that SINGLE LINES WERE UNFINSHED RAILWAYS and double track would be installed later.
Branch lines worked by OEIS (One Engine In Steam) and carrying a train staff were the exception to this rule.

For the record

OEIS: One Engine In Steam

Train Staff: A tablet given to driver of all trains working that line. NO TABLET=NO AUTHORITY TO ENTER SINGLE LINE.
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Lee
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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2008, 03:46:07 pm »

Stroud's MP (Member of Parliament) David Drew is calling on the Government to make the upgrading of the line from Kemble to Swindon a priority. He says the nine-mile stretch needs to become a double-track line to boost the frequency of trains between Gloucestershire and London (link below.)
http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=231771&command=displayContent&sourceNode=231774&contentPK=20504234&folderPk=108867&pNodeId=231888

Now he is poised to ask a Parliamentary Question asking the Government to make the upgrade a priority. "I have been lobbying this for 10 years," he said.

He is concerned that upgrading the North Cotswold Line to double track could be made a priority before the Kemble-Swindon stretch.

He is calling on the ORR» (Office of Rail and Road formerly Office of Rail Regulation - about) to back his campaign and has submitted a parliamentary question asking why the North Cotswold line could be due for an earlier upgrade.

Quote from: David Drew
"The North Cotswolds line is longer line to be redoubled and is less well used than the Kemble-Swindon stretch,"

A spokesman for Network Rail said it was keen to upgrade the line, and would seek additional funding.
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