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How realistic are TfW's proposals for North-West Wales?

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A0wen

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Yeah, that was pretty much the reasoning behind my "with a large pinch of salt" comment. It's more likely, but still not *very* likely. Out of interest, would it be a prohibitively big task to add a bridge so that the A5 went over the tracks? Bearing in mind you could do it whilst the railway was still closed - so potentially you could build a brand new bridge next to the A5, divert the A5 over the bridge, and then start running trains. Or is that prohibitively complicated?

Just trying to get my head around what's "difficult" and "easy" for this sort of thing :)

It may be "easier" if the proposed upgrade of the Oswestry by-pass to dual carriageway goes ahead - but that seems to have gone quiet.

In reality, if there are no road improvements imminent, it may be easier to put the railway over or under the road, because the rail formation is going to need to be fully rebuilt before it can be used - it's been OOU for some years now.
 
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Starmill

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Frankly I think the fact is that the route is unlikely to be the best possible use of resources, but has a better chance of success than many others for political reasons. Most railway projects come into this sort of category.
You can buy a ticket on the national network from Penzance to Thurso, but I don't imagine too many of those are sold either.
Because that's subject to regulation.
 

adrock1976

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What's it called? It's called Cumbernauld

And I'll quote @Bald Rick at this point who's response to somebody suggesting for moving Tesco's in Haverhill to allow the railway to be rebuilt there: "Doing something seemingly simple like moving Tesco is really rather hard. And expensive. You wouldn’t get change out if £50m, at a guess." so there's another cost if the desire was to get all the way into Caernarfon.


SNIP

Regarding resiting Tesco, I would imagine the first round of meetings would be to agree a digit between 1 and 9. Then the second round of meetings a few months later would be to agree on how many zeros are written on the cheque/typed in the spreadsheet.
 

LSWR Cavalier

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Three (!) food stores near me are building or have built new replacement stores, for commercial reasons apparently, each new store a short distance from the existing one. Sooner or later the stores in Caernarfon may do the same, they could be helped to find places away from the planned railway.
 

Bald Rick

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How wide do you think a single-track railway line needs to be?

I'm going to guess 8' *at least*

I forget the standard, but it’s at least 4 metres.

2700mm W6 loading gauge, + 250mm minimum structure clearance either side, + a further 1000mm position of safety on at least one side and very preferably both. This assumes straight track, more is needed for curved track for end/centre throw.

And, of course, you have to build it, so will need more than that during construction.
 
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A0wen

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I forget the standard, but it’s at least 4 metres.

2700mm W6 loading gauge, + 250mm minimum structure clearance either side, + a further 1000mm position of safety on at least one side and very preferably both. This assumes straight track, more is needed for curved track for end/centre throw.

And, of course, you have to build it, so will need more than that during construction.

4m is 12' in old money (give or take a couple of inches), so I was out by 50%.....

And there definitely *isn't* that kind of space there.
 

Bletchleyite

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4m is 12' in old money (give or take a couple of inches), so I was out by 50%.....

And there definitely *isn't* that kind of space there.

So we need to move a petrol station, then.

In the scheme of "stuff in the way of a railway" and "costs of compensating the owner" it is not exactly a king's ransom.

The store itself is definitely not in the way. The original station was quite large, a two platform (or one island) station - basically, something like Morecambe if you're familiar with that - will fit quite nicely behind it.
 

Bald Rick

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So we need to move a petrol station, then.

In the scheme of "stuff in the way of a railway" and "costs of compensating the owner" it is not exactly a king's ransom.

The store itself is definitely not in the way. The original station was quite large, a two platform (or one island) station - basically, something like Morecambe if you're familiar with that - will fit quite nicely behind it.

Sadly it’s not quite that simple, and this is a good example.

A business owner could claim that demolishing the petrol station, or removing part of the car park (or both) would make the whole business unviable, and demand full compensation for relocating in full to a viable site. They would be able to present some logical evidence to support it; certainly better evidence than a railway promoter would have to refute it. Of course this would more than likely be a negotiating position, but it’s safe to say that the financial settlement would end up being for rather more than cost of relocating the petrol station.

(As an aside, demolishing a petrol station is a non-trivial exercise, especially one that is right next to open water).
 

A0wen

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So we need to move a petrol station, then.

In the scheme of "stuff in the way of a railway" and "costs of compensating the owner" it is not exactly a king's ransom.

The store itself is definitely not in the way. The original station was quite large, a two platform (or one island) station - basically, something like Morecambe if you're familiar with that - will fit quite nicely behind it.

Brilliant. In the space of a couple of posts you've gone from 'a railway should fit that space' to 'so we have to move a petrol station', such is the rigour of your basic analysis.

I said the store was in the way *if* you were trying to get back through the tunnel as a quick look on Google Earth proves (or if you know the area well, as you claim to, it should be fairly obvious). And there's no space at the other end of the tunnel unless you demolish a load of stuff or move the WHR.....

The store's approach road (because it is shared with the petrol station), almost certainly would be impacted.

Morecambe is 2 platform - on the basis this would be a single track branch, that's overkill. A single platform is all that is required.
 

Bletchleyite

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I said the store was in the way *if* you were trying to get back through the tunnel as a quick look on Google Earth proves (or if you know the area well, as you claim to, it should be fairly obvious). And there's no space at the other end of the tunnel unless you demolish a load of stuff or move the WHR.....

I suspect they wouldn't go back through the tunnel - more likely would be a station somewhere near the Morrisons store, very near to (or actually*) on the original site. Which is a bit out of the centre, but (a) tourists are happy to have a bit of a walk around (kind of the point of going somewhere like Caernarfon, it's a very pleasant old town to walk around), and (b) an awful lot of stations are a bit out of town like that and are still well-used, I can think of loads of them including just about every single one on the Midland Mainline.

* The original site is rather large, I'm not quite sure of its extent but it's quite possible that Morrisons doesn't take up quite all of it.

Morecambe is 2 platform - on the basis this would be a single track branch, that's overkill. A single platform is all that is required.

There may be a desire to provide for charters in some way (as it would undoubtedly be a popular destination if they did), but yes, the cheapest option is a single platform. The best way may be to build passive provision for a second platform, i.e. to build a single platform meeting the spec for an island but with the back fenced off. Passive provision for a loop somewhere along the route might also be sensible. If it's really successful, there might be consideration of a second train per hour as some sort of Conwy Valley-Llandudno-Caernarfon local circuit (as used to operate but to Holyhead), not straight away but it's easier to implement such things if the land is set up that way to begin with.
 

A0wen

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I suspect they wouldn't go back through the tunnel - more likely would be a station somewhere near the Morrisons store, very near to (or actually*) on the original site. Which is a bit out of the centre, but (a) tourists are happy to have a bit of a walk around (kind of the point of going somewhere like Caernarfon, it's a very pleasant old town to walk around), and (b) an awful lot of stations are a bit out of town like that and are still well-used, I can think of loads of them including just about every single one on the Midland Mainline.

* The original site is rather large, I'm not quite sure of its extent but it's quite possible that Morrisons doesn't take up quite all of it.



There may be a desire to provide for charters in some way (as it would undoubtedly be a popular destination if they did), but yes, the cheapest option is a single platform. The best way may be to build passive provision for a second platform, i.e. to build a single platform meeting the spec for an island but with the back fenced off. Passive provision for a loop somewhere along the route might also be sensible. If it's really successful, there might be consideration of a second train per hour as some sort of Conwy Valley-Llandudno-Caernarfon local circuit (as used to operate but to Holyhead), not straight away but it's easier to implement such things if the land is set up that way to begin with.
The Morrisons store covers the original site http://disused-stations.org.uk/c/caernarvon/index.shtml

Stations along the MML which are a bit out of town but get well used, such as Wellingborough, Kettering or even Bedford are well used *because of people commuting to a major city* not because people think "Oh, I'll go to Wellingborough for a day out". They really aren't comparable in any meaningful way to Caernarfon.

And how many times do you need to be told, things like Charters, Diversion routes etc DO NOT MAKE BUSINESS CASES VIABLE. Putting in a second platform "just in case" or leaving "passive provision" is a waste of time, money and resource and will weaken a business case.

The only way you'd make it 2 tph would be by having a passing loop or similar along the line, that all adds to the cost. And when the rail network hasn't yet conjured up a viable BC for putting a loop on the existing network where it might actually make sense (Bricket Wood on the Abbey line), suggesting it for something which at best is a crayonista pipe-dream is a monumental waste of more crayons.
 

CBlue

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And how many times do you need to be told, things like Charters, Diversion routes etc DO NOT MAKE BUSINESS CASES VIABLE. Putting in a second platform "just in case" or leaving "passive provision" is a waste of time, money and resource and will weaken a business case.

Sometimes it feels like we need a "Mythbusting" thread on here.
 

A0wen

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Sometimes it feels like we need a "Mythbusting" thread on here.

I'd settle for a bull**** bingo card for most re-openings threads. Obvious candidates being: Diversion potential. Loco hauled charters. Tourist Honeypot. Moving existing things is easy. It's their own fault, people shouldn't buy houses on long abandoned railway lines. NIMBYism.
 

Bletchleyite

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I'd settle for a bull**** bingo card for most re-openings threads. Obvious candidates being: Diversion potential. Loco hauled charters. Tourist Honeypot. Moving existing things is easy. It's their own fault, people shouldn't buy houses on long abandoned railway lines. NIMBYism.

We'll have to disagree on this one. I don't think any of the other Welsh proposals will happen, and the half-hourly Conwy Valley thing is pie so far in the sky that it is in orbit (closure with a Traws bus replacing it is probably more likely either due to a major tunnel failure or too much of it washing away). But I would say there is a considerably higher than 50% chance of this specific one happening within 20 years or so, most notably because there is an obvious train to serve it with (the new Manchester-Bangor terminator).
 

A0wen

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We'll have to disagree on this one. I don't think any of the other Welsh proposals will happen, and the half-hourly Conwy Valley thing is pie so far in the sky that it is in orbit (closure with a Traws bus replacing it is probably more likely either due to a major tunnel failure or too much of it washing away). But I would say there is a considerably higher than 50% chance of this specific one happening within 20 years or so, most notably because there is an obvious train to serve it with (the new Manchester-Bangor terminator).

If anything happens in Wales, it's more likely to be in the south providing connections from old mining communities, which are areas of deprivation, into Cardiff or Swansea - I know a number of those have been done, but they're more likely.

Carmarthen - Aberystwyth is a complete non starter, though that will keep on getting peddled but for entirely political reasons - to have a North to South link which doesn't mean going through England. So, no doubt will Oswestry, but that's not particularly convincing either - and they need to make their mind up if that's going to be heritage or national rail.

The only way Caernarvon will work is as a basic, single line with perhaps one intermediate stop. But it's far from compelling.

Conwy Valley will continue to have money thrown at it - way beyond what it is worth - because closing railways is not the done thing in this country, even when it would make absolute sense to do so.
 

daodao

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If anything happens in Wales, it's more likely to be in the south providing connections from old mining communities, which are areas of deprivation, into Cardiff or Swansea - I know a number of those have been done, but they're more likely.
I agree. I would suggest Newport to Pye Corner and Aberbeeg junction to Abertillery.

Closure of the Bangor to Caernarfon (& Afon Wen) line was possibly a mistake in hindsight, but it's unrealistic to try to resurrect it.
 

Bletchleyite

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Conwy Valley will continue to have money thrown at it - way beyond what it is worth - because closing railways is not the done thing in this country, even when it would make absolute sense to do so.

Though if that's the case, it's time to spend one lot of money to sort things out for the long term rather than to keep patching it up each year, e.g. to put some fairly long lengths of the bit by the river on piled "stilts" and provide channels and flood defence. It seems to be suffering from "not that budget".

There really does need to be the "close it and turn into a cycleway, or future-proof it" discussion soonish. A bit like Island Line, which while its problems are quite different its "basket-caseness" is at a similar level.

FWIW, given how the two have similar influence on the National Park, I could see "close the Conwy Valley and build Caernarfon" as not an entirely silly redistribution of funds, particularly if it came with a new complementary fully-integrated (timetable and ticketing) bus network for the National Park and surrounds.
 

A0wen

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FWIW, given how the two have similar influence on the National Park, I could see "close the Conwy Valley and build Caernarfon" as not an entirely silly redistribution of funds, particularly if it came with a new complementary fully-integrated (timetable and ticketing) bus network for the National Park and surrounds.

Good luck with that - you're proposing the closure of a line which serves a deprived area and replacing it with a line which doesn't.

Depending on what you did - full closure would be Ffestiniog 30 miles by road to Llandudno or 11.5 to Betws. Both of those are longer distances than the line you're proposing to put in their place. Yes, I know the shortest distance railhead for Ffestiniog would be Porthmadog, but that's then another long journey just to get to Machnylleth, let alone Shrewsbury or Birmingham, whereas Llandudno has decent connections onto Chester and beyond.

And Caernarfon doesn't exactly offer anything better in terms of access into the National Park than you get from Bangor (both are a similar distance to Llanberis).
 

Bletchleyite

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Good luck with that - you're proposing the closure of a line which serves a deprived area and replacing it with a line which doesn't.

Replacing it with a high quality, integrated and probably more frequent (hourly) bus service?

Depending on what you did - full closure would be Ffestiniog 30 miles by road to Llandudno or 11.5 to Betws. Both of those are longer distances than the line you're proposing to put in their place. Yes, I know the shortest distance railhead for Ffestiniog would be Porthmadog, but that's then another long journey just to get to Machnylleth, let alone Shrewsbury or Birmingham, whereas Llandudno has decent connections onto Chester and beyond.

Exactly how many people are railheading to Blaenau from Ffestiniog village? If it's not 0 it's going to be very close to it. If you're going to get in the car you're going to go to Llandudno Junction (or drive all the way) - remember that the road paralleling the line at least as far as Betws has has considerable upgrades over the past 20 years or so and it is now possible to drive at 60mph for much of its length.

And Caernarfon doesn't exactly offer anything better in terms of access into the National Park than you get from Bangor (both are a similar distance to Llanberis).

The Park is a lot more than Llanberis.
 

Gloster

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Without knowing much beyond the basic geography of the area, I wonder if cutting the line back to Betws-y-coed and running a connecting bus from there to Blaenau would be a workable compromise. It would be possible to run a two-hourly service and two of the busiest stations would still be still served. It would also allow the abandonment of the tunnel, which I understand is a cause of concern. (Of course, the Ffestiniog could take over the line and run through to Betws-y-coed. I don’t think.)
 

Bletchleyite

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Without knowing much beyond the basic geography of the area, I wonder if cutting the line back to Betws-y-coed and running a connecting bus from there to Blaenau would be a workable compromise. It would be possible to run a two-hourly service and two of the busiest stations would still be still served. It would also allow the abandonment of the tunnel, which I understand is a cause of concern. (Of course, the Ffestiniog could take over the line and run through to Betws-y-coed. I don’t think.)

The main issue is the northern part of the line flooding out, unfortunately. The tunnel has caused issues in the past but isn't the main one.
 

6Gman

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I agree. I would suggest Newport to Pye Corner and Aberbeeg junction to Abertillery.

Closure of the Bangor to Caernarfon (& Afon Wen) line was possibly a mistake in hindsight, but it's unrealistic to try to resurrect it.
Caernarfon may well have been a mistake. Caernarfon - Afon Wen was a basket case. Busy on a few summer Saturdays for Butlin's (a market that's gone). Absolutely dismal the rest of the time (I used it, both as a through route and visiting Groeslon!).

Without knowing much beyond the basic geography of the area, I wonder if cutting the line back to Betws-y-coed and running a connecting bus from there to Blaenau would be a workable compromise. It would be possible to run a two-hourly service and two of the busiest stations would still be still served. It would also allow the abandonment of the tunnel, which I understand is a cause of concern. (Of course, the Ffestiniog could take over the line and run through to Betws-y-coed. I don’t think.)
Blaenau - c.40k
Betws - c.36k
Llanrwst - c.14k
 
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ChiefPlanner

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We go on and on about the Conway Valley "money pit" -

Did the line survive only for rail access to Trawsfynydd. ? Discuss.
 

Bletchleyite

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We go on and on about the Conway Valley "money pit" -

Did the line survive only for rail access to Trawsfynydd. ? Discuss.

I would probably say that it has a lot in common with the middle bit of the Cumbrian Coast in that regard, i.e. that not moving nuclear waste by road due to the safety aspect (and perceived safety aspect) got it through the "dark days" of closures being in vogue.

In some ways a "Trawsfynydd 2" would be the best thing that could happen to it, though very unlikely.
 

ChiefPlanner

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I would probably say that it has a lot in common with the middle bit of the Cumbrian Coast in that regard, i.e. that not moving nuclear waste by road due to the safety aspect (and perceived safety aspect) got it through the "dark days" of closures being in vogue.

In some ways a "Trawsfynydd 2" would be the best thing that could happen to it, though very unlikely.

I do not say this often - but you are probably correct on both counts :D

To be honest , the tourist traffic was seasonal (highly peaked and weather dependant) , no slate traffic out , very little other business in terms of commuters or freight and so on (Conwy Valley that is - cannot speak for Cumbria) - so there must have been a "strategic decision" - not just from the BRB.

Next time I get to Kew will see if anything in the archives. Very interesting stuff there on how they got shot of some lines -and how with drastic cost cutting and so on they saved others (like St Albans to Watford)
 

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Having been involved in the Borders Railway consultation a decade ago, it was given long platforms and servicing facilities on the nod of positivity from just a few of us (probably unwise of the planners in hindsight). Sadly the specials that may have visited mostly never materialised as that industry has largely contracted and the remaining players focused more on narrower sections of the market and simpler repeat itineraries. Lengthy sections of single track and a half hourly service early morning to mid evening Monday to Saturday though ultimately rendered the route almost useless to visiting traffic as paths were token and involved permission to cancel 2 afternoon stopping services from the timetable being granted.

Much as it would be nice for Caernarfon to be kitted out to take 12 or 13 coaches and t'n't locos, were it ever reopened, I would say it'd be a poor use of public funds as no doubt it'd be a single track branch with few, if any, paths spare and the railtour market would lose interest too quickly in the place bar the old novelty seeking trip early on by the usual suspects and rare runs thereafter. The same was true of the line which was reopened beyond Alloa to Fife (not ever intentionally for charters) and it was a big novelty for a few years but now largely ignored bar an odd train such as the annual steam running date from SRPS despite being a great run along the Forth and being free of freight after just a few years so much easier to path.

On the reopening subject though I would welcome any line that could be made to work in that area provided the investment could be returned over at least a few decades. Better length platforms would only make sense at places like Caernarfon if there was an aspiration to start say a Cardiff and/or Euston service from there vice Holyhead but in practice that's not likely.
 
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