|4965 Rood Ashton Hall” leads classmate 4936 “Kinlet Hall” past Highnam, west of Gloucester, with 1Z49 – The “Double Headed Hallage” tour from Tyseley to Newport – on Saturday 23 March 2013 .|
|As in 2012, Gloucestershire Transport History is proud to be associated with the Severnside Branch of Railfuture, formerly known as The Railway Development Society Limited, a not for profit Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England and Wales as number 5011634 with its registered Office at 24 Chedworth Place, Tattingstone, Suffolk IP9 2ND.As ever, Railfuture Severnside has been campaigning on a range of regional issues and courtesy of its Secretary, Nigel Bray, here is some of the correspondence recently involved.|
|In the days of the Nationalised industry, Railfreight Construction liveried 56 055 leads a train of loaded limestone wagons from Tytherington Quarry through Iron Acton on 19 September 1991.|
|Please reply to: Mr. N. Bray, Severnside Branch Secretary, 68 Gurney Avenue, Tuffley, GLOUCESTER GL4 0HN.5 February 2013Email: email@example.comCouncillor Brian Allinson,Executive member for Transport
South Gloucestershire Council
Dear Mr. Allinson,
Tytherington branch line
In view of concerns that the recently disused freight line from Yate to Tytherington may be lifted by Network Rail in the near future, I am writing to ask whether South Gloucestershire Council is prepared to safeguard the line for possible future use and ensure that the formation is not obstructed.
Railfuture’s response to the Core Strategy Inspector’s Draft Main Modifications suggested that the line has potential to convey construction materials for the proposed new power station at Oldbury. We see the railway as an asset which could also support a passenger service as an extension of the Greater Bristol Metro scheme, which would otherwise terminate at Yate. Even if it were not feasible to extend the line back to its original terminus at Thornbury, the town could be served by a park and ride station at Tytherington.
Network Rail’s 2013-19 Western Route Business Plan endorses the Greater Bristol Metro project. The massive growth in usage of Bristol suburban stations in recent years augurs very well for the success of the Metro. At the very least the formation of the Tytherington branch should be protected for possible reopening as an addition to that network.
Reply from Mr. Brian Welch, Cities and Regions Manager, Department for Transport, 18 February 2013:
“Thank you for your letter of 5 February about the Yate to Tytherington branch line.
I am not entirely clear what you mean by ‘new rules may allow Network Rail to remove the track in the very near future.’ However, Network Rail will need to make a decision in this respect bearing in mind the possibility that new sources of traffic might emerge in the future balanced against the very real risk that disused track could be stolen by metal thieves as has unfortunately been the case elsewhere where a line has been mothballed.
It is a long term aspiration of South Gloucestershire Council and the West of England Partnership to see a rail service restored to Thornbury, but the plans for Bristol Metro indicate that there are higher priorities elsewhere. As far as the track bed is concerned, I would imagine that any attempt by Network Rail to dispose of this would be resisted unless conditions were placed upon disposal that prevented any development taking place which would jeopardise future re-opening.
I note that you have written to South Gloucestershire Council on this matter and no doubt they would reply in a similar way.”
|GLOUCESTER STATION FOOTBRIDGE|
|Letter from Nigel Bray to Richard Graham MP, 1 March 2013.Gloucester Railway Station footbridgeI appreciate the efforts you have made to improve the facilities at the railway station but Network Rail seems to have let us down as far as the new footbridge is concerned. It was built to provide step-free access between the platforms as part of the Access for All programme but the lifts, promised to be ready for last autumn, are still non-operational as I write. This is a source of inconvenience not only to disabled people but to anyone with a pushchair or heavy luggage.I also understand that Network Rail has no intention of providing a roof for the footbridge, although curiously it does have windows and drains. It seems odd that such a basic component should be omitted at a major station. I made enquiries with the Department for Transport as to why no roof has been included and was told that this was because the old footbridge did not have one. Evidently Network Rail had specified a “like for like” replacement policy regardless of local circumstances. This has resulted in some smaller and less busy stations than Gloucester receiving new covered footbridges in areas of lower rainfall.If there is to be any selectivity as to whether new footbridges at stations are roofed, the sensible criteria ought to be passenger numbers and average local rainfall. The Office of Rail Regulation recorded 1.2 million passengers travelling to or from Gloucester in 2010 / 11. These statistics are an underestimate of the footfall through the station because they do not include passengers changing trains at Gloucester.Covered footbridges with lifts have been erected in recent years at Staines and Kidderminster, presumably under the same AfA programme, where the previous facilities had been unroofed. It would appear that Network Rail has not been consistent with its stated policy.
Perhaps you could ask Network Rail to expedite completion of the lifts and reconsider its decision on the footbridge roof, to give the city the station facilities it deserves.
Reply from Richard Graham MP, 11 March 2013:
“Thank you for your letter on the station footbridge. I agree that Network Rail’s management of this relatively simple project has been very poor. About ten days ago I wrote to their Chief Executive and had a reply which basically said ‘don’t worry it will all be ready in April’.
This is about nine months later than the original plan and not very reassuring. However, since they are the body for delivering it I suppose we all have to grit our teeth and be pleased when it is finally in place.
The canopy is the result of Network Rail saying the government funding is enough for the lift but not for a roof, also using the line you’ve pointed out. You’re quite right that this is infuriating and I will try again to see what can be done on this, and at least to get an idea of cost, so that I can also explore whether the county council can do anything to help although their funds are also desperately tight.”
Richard Graham added as a footnote, “It is in operation today, so fingers crossed no glitch..”
|Please reply to: Mr. N. Bray, Severnside Branch Secretary, 68 Gurney Avenue, Tuffley, GLOUCESTER GL4 0HN. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org March 2013.Councillor Chas FellowsCabinet member for Economy and EnvironmentGloucestershire County Council
Dear Mr. Fellows,
Proposed housing development on MoD land at Ashchurch
I am writing to express my concern about the proposed sale of the Ministry of Defence premises at Ashchurch for housing development. I have already written to Tewkesbury Borough Council as the planning authority but I believe the scheme would have important implications for transport policy in the county if the redevelopment of the Army transport depot resulted in the loss of the railway sidings into the site.
Railfuture is not opposed in principle to a housing development involving part of the present MoD site. Indeed this might well help the case for much needed improvements to the train service at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury station. We would, however, strongly urge retention of the sidings into the Army depot, which are currently the only active rail freight facility in the county.
During the floods of 2007, when the Mythe water treatment works were out of action, trains of bottled water from Scotland were unloaded in the Ashchurch military sidings for distribution to Cheltenham, Gloucester, Tewkesbury and other affected localities. This demonstrated the value of the rail connection in a major emergency.
Whilst Railfuture would support reactivation of the rail connection to Sharpness Docks as an additional facility to that at Ashchurch, there do not appear to be any other locations in Gloucestershire where transfer of freight between rail and road is currently possible. The Ashchurch sidings have strategic importance in keeping the options open for freight transport in the future, if diminishing oil reserves and further rail electrification were to reduce dependence on road haulage. It is vital that any sale of the present MoD premises does not compromise the rail connection.
|CROSS COUNTRY TRAINS|
|From the Gloucester Citizen of Saturday 3 August 2013 came this report by Tom GibbonGLOUCESTER is fast becoming the “best small city in Britain” but needs more trains stopping here to bolster its growth.That’s the message from city MP Richard Graham, who has penned a letter to Transport Minister Norman Baker, urging him to increase the number of north-south trains stopping at the station.Currently, Arriva’s Cross Country service stops once a day in either direction, but London-bound carriages pull up every hour.In his letter, Mr Graham said: “Until more trains stop, north-south demand will remain modest but I believe that greater frequency will stimulate demand at our city station.”If more trains are to stop at Gloucester, it is likely that this would have to be specified by the Department for Transport. As you know, the Cross Country franchise ends in 2016 and talks will soon begin about extending the contract until 2019.
“Gloucester is fast becoming the best small city in Britain and if this is to continue, both business and tourists need more Cross Country trains to stop in the city.”
Calls mounted in recent years to get an entirely new train station built for Gloucester when it emerged the Railway Triangle was to be redeveloped.
But Network Rail said the project simply was not feasible and the Triangle will instead soon be home to a new Morrisons.
Businessman Ivan Taylor, who runs Truscott Jewellers and is chairman of the Westgate Traders’ Association, said: “It’s definitely a good idea, we need people visiting Gloucester to help trade grow but we need to get our heads together to look at how we improve facilities when they get here.”
Rail minister Norman Baker said: “We want to continue to ensure a good service for passengers across the Cross Country franchise, including those in Gloucester, and when the time comes for negotiating the Direct Award, we will consider the case for service improvements.
“We do, of course, have to make sure that any specifications we make represent good value for money for the public purse, but having said that, I will ask officials to look at the specific point that has been raised.”
|68 Gurney Avenue, Tuffley, GLOUCESTER GL4 0HN 5 August 2013.To Richard Graham MP, House of Commons, LONDON SW1A 0AA.I was very pleased to read in the Citizen that you have written to Norman Baker putting the case for more Cross Country trains to call at Gloucester.I think it is worth bearing in mind that during the short period (2002-03) when the Cross Country network was expanded by Virgin Trains, Gloucester had probably its best service of trains between the North of England and the South West, ie an hourly service in each direction for most of the day.Unfortunately in 2003 the now disbanded Strategic Rail Authority took upon itself to “simplify” train services in the Bristol- Birmingham corridor in the interests of reducing delays. It failed to address the need for more capacity in the rail system, notably the pinch points at Filton Bank (between Bristol Temple Meads and Parkway); Cheltenham (where the station layout is very restricted); and the southern approaches to Birmingham, where InterCity trains get caught up with the intensive Cross-City local services. Instead of investing in the infrastructure, the SRA diverted nearly all the Virgin Cross Country trains away from Gloucester in order to create slack in their schedules for making up time.
I understand that the Government has included restoration of four tracks on Filton Bank in Network Rail’s Control Period 5 (2014-19) programme of capital works. There is also a bid from the Gloucestershire Local Transport Board for funding to rebuild Cheltenham station with additional platforms so that London trains do not have to delay Cross Country services. The additional capacity arising from both schemes ought to make it easier for more trains to serve Gloucester. Arriva Cross Country makes more use of the Camp Hill line south of Birmingham which avoids the congested route between Kings Norton and Birmingham New Street.
I should be interested to know what Mr. Baker has to say but I believe we could make a strong argument on the basis of Gloucester being a major centre of tourism. Nearly all the main visitor attractions in the city are within walking distance of the station. As my second paragraph points out, there is no operational problem about north-south trains reversing (Cross Country does so at Reading and will still do so after rebuilding of that station). We should campaign for our city to enjoy something approaching the level of Cross Country services at Exeter and Oxford, both major tourist cities of similar size to Gloucester.
|68 Gurney Avenue, Tuffley, GLOUCESTER GL4 0HN 15 August 2013To Sue Douglas, Network Rail, Temple Point, Redcliffe Way, BRISTOL BS1 6NL.Dear Ms. Douglas,Avonmouth stationI am writing to you at the suggestion of Mr. Keith Walton, Chairman of Severnside Community Rail Partnership.
I understand that Network Rail intends to demolish the building on Platform 1 (the up platform) at Avonmouth, latterly occupied by a barber’s shop but now empty. I can appreciate the difficulty of finding an alternative use such as a café because passengers (who are mostly travelling in the direction of Bristol Temple Meads) would have to cross back to Platform 2 via the level crossing. Such passengers might become trapped on Platform 1 when the barriers come down with the approach of a train from Severn Beach.
You will, I trust, be aware of the strong political support for reopening the Henbury loop line to passenger services. If this were to happen, Avonmouth station would have a more important role as the starting point for journeys to Henbury and Filton with in all probability some kind of rail / bus connections to Cribbs Causeway. In this scenario the station would also become a junction between the Severn Beach and Henbury lines, with far more passengers beginning their journeys from Platform 1.
Would it therefore be possible to make provision for better passenger facilities on Platform 1 even if the present building were to be demolished ? Railfuture believes that unstaffed stations need to become more attractive to users and that Travel Shops on the lines of those at Merseyrail stations could offer a long term solution. Perhaps you could let me know whether there are structural problems with the Platform 1 building which are considered to be beyond economic repair.
Hon. Secretary, Railfuture Severnside.
|This splendid painting of a Blue Pullman diesel multiple unit passing through Chipping Sodbury station in the 1960s comes from the recommended Alan Ward Collection.|
|68 Gurney Avenue, Tuffley, GLOUCESTER GL4 0HN 23 August 2013To Councillor Brian Allinson, Executive Member for Transport,South Gloucestershire Council, Council Offices,Castle Street, THORNBURY BS35 1HF.
Dear Mr. Allinson,
Protection of station sites in Winterbourne and Chipping Sodbury areas
I am writing to ask whether South Gloucestershire Council, if it has not already done so, would be prepared to safeguard sites for possible new stations at Winterbourne, Coalpit Heath, Chipping Sodbury and Badminton.
The potential for the first three of these stations was raised at the Public Examination of the South Gloucestershire Core Strategy in June 2012 by Christina Biggs (on behalf of Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways) and myself. The reasons we gave were the large population increase in the areas concerned since the stations were closed and the massive growth in usage of suburban stations in Greater Bristol in recent years. Whilst Badminton station would not serve a populous area, its potential for transporting visitors to special events at Badminton House is obvious.
If my recollection is correct, a presentation on Rail given by James White to the West of England Partnership JTEC meeting in September 2011 mentioned that WEP had asked Network Rail to ensure that electrification infrastructure (such as overhead catenary posts) did not preclude the reopening of these and other main line stations at a later date.
Railfuture believes that, after the existing Metro West proposals have come to fruition, there is a case for an electrified local train service between Bristol Temple Meads and Swindon via Bristol Parkway and Chipping Sodbury. Given the growing popularity of rail travel, we believe the necessity in the short term should be to protect sites for the stations concerned. Perhaps you could confirm whether South Gloucestershire intends to do so.
Hon. Secretary, Railfuture Severnside.