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Idea: Trams for Cheltenham and Gloucester

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ABB125

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I've created a tram route for Cheltenham and Gloucester, which can be found here.
I've written a document which explains the route in detail, attached below.

In summary: it starts in Bishops Cleeve (north of Cheltenham), runs through Cheltenham and Gloucester and ends at Gloucester's Waterwells Park and Ride Site.

Whilst I don't for one moment imagine this will ever be built, I think it's a sensible idea. Feedback will be greatly appreciated.

EDIT: I will just clarify, this is totally speculative; there are no official plans (that I'm aware of) for any team system here.
 

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Jay14

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I've often wondered about a tram/light-rail system like this and potentially extending north to Tewkesbury and south to Stroud/Stonehouse. Agree, it would be very unlikely as I think it would be incredibly difficult to construct through the area. But with the plans to build the cyber park and potentially further development between Cheltenham and Gloucester, the current bus network may not be able to provide the incentives and capacity to move away from the private car to public transport.
 

ABB125

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I've often wondered about a tram/light-rail system like this and potentially extending north to Tewkesbury and south to Stroud/Stonehouse. Agree, it would be very unlikely as I think it would be incredibly difficult to construct through the area. But with the plans to build the cyber park and potentially further development between Cheltenham and Gloucester, the current bus network may not be able to provide the incentives and capacity to move away from the private car to public transport.
I don't think there would be much of a case for building to Tewkesbury and Stroud (even less than for the smaller network I've created!), although it does depend on how much housing development is planned (a lot!). I agree that the bus network probably won't be attractive enough, although of course all the housing will be car-dependent (as usual).
 

Aston

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That's great until you realise that most bus routes this covers are absolutely fine, the 12 (Gloucester - Quedgeley) running every 10 minutes weekdays and every 12 on Saturdays, the 94 runs at every 8 minutes peak weekdays. Not sure about Chelt to Bishops Cleeve.
 

ABB125

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That's great until you realise that most bus routes this covers are absolutely fine, the 12 (Gloucester - Quedgeley) running every 10 minutes weekdays and every 12 on Saturdays, the 94 runs at every 8 minutes peak weekdays. Not sure about Chelt to Bishops Cleeve.
It's service D and E between Cheltenham and Bishop's Cleeve, up to every 10 minutes I think.
The main reason I created this route (other than being bored!) is because of the frequent buses, which imply that there might be sufficient demand for a tram. However, I appreciate that the chance of it happening are virtually zero, much as I would love a tram system locally!
 

peterblue

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Infrastructure is always a big concern with light rail projects. Most of the light rail projects near to where I live in Manchester were built from previous train lines, so there was less infrastructure investment required.

I think there is however, perhaps some merit, if financially feasible, to reopening the Honeybourne line to heavy rail through Bishop's Cleeve and onto London. You'll gain faster Cheltenham-London times that way compared to the current route via Swindon; you'll put BC back (and perhaps a bunch of smaller villages) on the rail map; and you will bolster the service through the Cotswolds. From checking the satellite photography, it appears most of the track is still in place albeit needing some TLC - is this correct?
 

ABB125

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Infrastructure is always a big concern with light rail projects. Most of the light rail projects near to where I live in Manchester were built from previous train lines, so there was less infrastructure investment required.

I think there is however, perhaps some merit, if financially feasible, to reopening the Honeybourne line to heavy rail through Bishop's Cleeve and onto London. You'll gain faster Cheltenham-London times that way compared to the current route via Swindon; you'll put BC back (and perhaps a bunch of smaller villages) on the rail map; and you will bolster the service through the Cotswolds. From checking the satellite photography, it appears most of the track is still in place albeit needing some TLC - is this correct?
The trackbed still exists, although much of it is a cycleway through Cheltenham and I think it's been used to extend the car park at the station. The major issue is that when Waitrose was built, a new "pedestrian" bridge was built to provide road access under the trackbed; this is totally unsuitable for rail use, so would need replacing, probably with the road below needing lowering. Furthermore, I believe all the bridges within Cheltenham need some structural work in order to be safe for rail use.
The main issue with using the former Honeybourne for a tram network is that it misses out the centre of Cheltenham; the whole point of light rail is that you can get closer to town centres etc than heavy rail.

Between Cheltenham racecourse and Broadway, the trackbed is used by the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway; north thereof is part of a Sustrans route.
 

Dr Hoo

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Apart from the sections that are explicitly stated as being 'off road' or on disused rail alignments is the vision that this would be a Victorian-style tram line with the rails 'in the middle of the road'?

I am not clear that this would offer much by way of faster journeys than the bus although there may be specific benefits in terms of slightly better town/city centre penetration through otherwise pedestrian areas or avoiding one-way systems.

Besides slightly better environmental credentials than buses (which, one assumes, might become decarbonised by various means in due course anyway) what are the principal benefits to customers?

A single trunk route with no branches suggests that many public transport users would have to change to bus to reach other destinations. Is a 'feeder' re-configuration of the bus network envisaged?

Although I have strong family connections with Cheltenham and Gloucester I am not really familiar with the area these days but it definitely sounds like an interesting idea that I would like to understand better.
 

ABB125

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Apart from the sections that are explicitly stated as being 'off road' or on disused rail alignments is the vision that this would be a Victorian-style tram line with the rails 'in the middle of the road'?

I am not clear that this would offer much by way of faster journeys than the bus although there may be specific benefits in terms of slightly better town/city centre penetration through otherwise pedestrian areas or avoiding one-way systems.

Besides slightly better environmental credentials than buses (which, one assumes, might become decarbonised by various means in due course anyway) what are the principal benefits to customers?

A single trunk route with no branches suggests that many public transport users would have to change to bus to reach other destinations. Is a 'feeder' re-configuration of the bus network envisaged?

Although I have strong family connections with Cheltenham and Gloucester I am not really familiar with the area these days but it definitely sounds like an interesting idea that I would like to understand better.
Certainly within the urban areas it would have to be "rails in the road", a bit like the bits of Metrolink in central Manchester. Outside of urban areas I've mainly followed existing roads, because that's the easiest method of drawing lines on a map! In the incredibly unlikely event that someone actually decided to progress with a scheme like this, I have no doubt that more suitable alignments could be found that are cheaper/easier to build/better serve the area.
In terms of journey time benefits, there probably wouldn't be much of a benefit against buses, unless a more segregated alignment can be found. As for customer benefits, I imagine higher capacity and more reliable journey times might occur? Besides, who doesn't like a tram? :D (In other words, more development work is needed!)
My route is a single line simply because I've joined together a few bus routes that happen to line up: between Bishops Cleeve and Cheltenham, Cheltenham and Gloucester, plus three different park and ride sites. Feeder buses should be perfectly feasible, although I imagine many passengers would prefer to retain direct buses to the town centres. Obviously someone with access to bus passenger statistics could change the route/add branches etc based on demand (or say "what idiot thought of this? There's no way it'll be viable!" :D)

Hopefully this is helpful. But as I said I don't think this will ever actually happen!
 

Mintona

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Needs a branch to this new town being built just outside Gloucester. It takes two hours in the morning peak to drive from the Forest of Dean into Gloucester, and with the 5000 new houses that’s going to get worse and worse. Would actually be dead handy, shame about the cost!


Villagers are up in arms about plans to build thousands of new homes on green fields between the A40 and the A48.

Residents say developers and council officials are preparing to create a new town the size of Coleford between the Forest of Dean and Gloucester.


And they claim putting a new town between two of Gloucestershire's busiest roads will create chaos on an already overburdened highways network

But leaders at Forest of Dean District Council say they agreed to consider developers proposals because they have to find land for thousands more houses than they originally thought to meet revised Government targets.
 

ABB125

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Needs a branch to this new town being built just outside Gloucester. It takes two hours in the morning peak to drive from the Forest of Dean into Gloucester, and with the 5000 new houses that’s going to get worse and worse. Would actually be dead handy, shame about the cost!

If tram trains were to be used, an extension to the development should be pretty easy, given that there's normally only 2tph plus freight west of Gloucester. Then again, this is the railway, so it'll probably be very difficult!:D
 
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