Proposal to reopen Kemble-Cirencester branch

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jimm

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From the Wilts & Glos Standard

THE capital of the Cotswolds may soon have its first train link in 50 years.

Early plans are afoot to reopen the defunct line between Cirencester and Kemble, serviced by an ultra-modern, eco-friendly train.

Cirencester's Mayor Cllr Mark Harris is spearheading the innovative project along with Richard and Jane Gunner, of Whiteway Farm, to lay 5km of track from the commuter station to the edge of the proposed Chesterton development.

At a Cotswold District Council (CDC) cabinet meeting in April, Cllr Harris and Kemble councillor Tony Berry laid out the vision to fellow members, saying a car park could be laid under electricity pylons in Cirencester and a regular bus route could ferry passengers to the town centre.

http://www.wiltsglosstandard.co.uk/...motion_to_bring_new_trainline_to_Cirencester/
 
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JohnR

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The problem as I see it is that the line isnt proposed to go into the centre of Cirencester.
 

jimm

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The problem as I see it is that the line isnt proposed to go into the centre of Cirencester.

Several comments underneath make just that point. But given the way Cirencester has changed since the closure of the line - not least rampant development in the south-west of the town where the old line ran, I can't see how you would get anywhere near the town centre without demolishing a lot of buildings.
 

MarkyT

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Several comments underneath make just that point. But given the way Cirencester has changed since the closure of the line - not least rampant development in the south-west of the town where the old line ran, I can't see how you would get anywhere near the town centre without demolishing a lot of buildings.

A tram-train solution could do the last half-mile into Cirencester on light non segregated trackage, on street along the quiet residential Meadow Rd, then on reservation alongside the Bristol Rd dual carriageway under Sheep St. bridge to terminate by the roundabout next to the amphitheatre, near the old GWR station site and only a short walk from most of the town centre. The site could also be developed as a transit interchange with buses and taxis. The route could run onwards from Kemble to Swindon forming a local service along the heavy rail route now that double track has created sufficient capacity. There could be new halts at Minety, Purton and somewhere around Sparcells. With most Stroud trains extended to London perhaps the existing west facing bay at Swindon would be sufficient to handle say a 30 minute interval local service. Longer term, perhaps more street trackage through Swindon centre could be constructed and Cirencester services could be linked in to continue out on reservation next to Queens Drive as far as the hospital, then join the old M&SWJR route from Chiseldon to Marlborough!
 

A0wen

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Reality check time - Cirencester has a population of circa 20,000.

Even allowing for tourist trade (which indisputably exists), I can't believe for a second that this proposal is viable.

I know that the guided busways are unpopular around these parts, but they are cheaper to construct than rail - and the two which have been served by the most recent builds of those are to places which are at least 5 times larger than Cirencester and in the case of Cambridge has far more tourist trade.
 

class26

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Reality check time - Cirencester has a population of circa 20,000.

Even allowing for tourist trade (which indisputably exists), I can't believe for a second that this proposal is viable.

I know that the guided busways are unpopular around these parts, but they are cheaper to construct than rail - and the two which have been served by the most recent builds of those are to places which are at least 5 times larger than Cirencester and in the case of Cambridge has far more tourist trade.

.....and the population of the towns along the recently re opened borders line are ?
 

CaptainHaddock

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From the Wilts & Glos Standard

THE capital of the Cotswolds may soon have its first train link in 50 years.

Early plans are afoot to reopen the defunct line between Cirencester and Kemble, serviced by an ultra-modern, eco-friendly train.

Cirencester's Mayor Cllr Mark Harris is spearheading the innovative project along with Richard and Jane Gunner, of Whiteway Farm, to lay 5km of track from the commuter station to the edge of the proposed Chesterton development.

At a Cotswold District Council (CDC) cabinet meeting in April, Cllr Harris and Kemble councillor Tony Berry laid out the vision to fellow members, saying a car park could be laid under electricity pylons in Cirencester and a regular bus route could ferry passengers to the town centre.

http://www.wiltsglosstandard.co.uk/...motion_to_bring_new_trainline_to_Cirencester/

Interesting use of the word "soon". ;)

Also, as the council deputy leader is one Nicholas Parsons, will the journey take "just a minute"?
 
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jimm

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Reality check time - Cirencester has a population of circa 20,000.

Even allowing for tourist trade (which indisputably exists), I can't believe for a second that this proposal is viable.

I know that the guided busways are unpopular around these parts, but they are cheaper to construct than rail - and the two which have been served by the most recent builds of those are to places which are at least 5 times larger than Cirencester and in the case of Cambridge has far more tourist trade.

I wouldn't for moment dispute the need for a reality check but the fact that a 330-space car park extension at Kemble station was approved a few weeks ago - on top of the 220 spaces already there - is perhaps an indication that an alternative means of getting people to Kemble might be worth looking at. For a local comparison, the Kemble car park will soon be almost as big as the one at Swindon station (578 spaces, according to the National Rail website).

The Cambridge busway cheaper than rail? Hmm...

Website for the Cirencester proposal is here cirentrain.org.uk
 
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there was a proposal a few years ago to build new stations/halts at oaksey and minety. If the line to Cirencester was reinstated, you could have an hourly service from Cirencester to Swindon stopping at Kemble, Oaksey and Minety. The train would be timed so that a train from Cirencester arrives before a train departs north to Gloucester and Cheltenham, and vice-versa so that a train from Swindon departs after a train arrives from Gloucester and Cheltenham. During rush hours, you could increase frequency to every 30 minutes so that some Cirencester-Kemble trains terminate at Kemble, but connect with the Paddington trains.

If the development s/w of Cirencester goes ahead, and providing landowners are in agreement, then we won't be talking about much money to reinstate the railway. Only issue is rolling stock.
 

class26

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The Scottish Government who were the prime movers on the Borders Railway project looked at that line from a strictly Scottish mindset and you cannot use that particular example when viewing English rail matters.

Merely pointing out the populations are not so different AND the estimated pax figures were way below what has so far resulted. Maybe it is the English that are wrong ?
 

MarkyT

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If the development s/w of Cirencester goes ahead, and providing landowners are in agreement, then we won't be talking about much money to reinstate the railway. Only issue is rolling stock.

Vivarail D Train? or a Pacer suitably modified for accessibility? Put side skirts and road vehicle lights on them and it might qualify (at low speed) as a high floor 'tram-train' or a 'train-tram', allowing a short street running section closer in to Cirencester town centre as per my previous post.

One advantage of a rail-based versus a busway solution is you could reach Swindon over existing tracks without new parallel guideway all the way.
 
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A0wen

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.....and the population of the towns along the recently re opened borders line are ?

Irrelevant - because Cirencester is less than 5 miles from a mainline rail station at Kemble and has good road connections to Swindon (for the M4) and Gloucester (for the M5).

Whereas those borders towns were many miles from the nearest rail station (Berwick) and had only one main road (A7) which is predominantly single carriageway.

So the Borders rail is not a valid comparison.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I wouldn't for moment dispute the need for a reality check but the fact that a 330-space car park extension at Kemble station was approved a few weeks ago - on top of the 220 spaces already there - is perhaps an indication that an alternative means of getting people to Kemble might be worth looking at. For a local comparison, the Kemble car park will soon be almost as big as the one at Swindon station (578 spaces, according to the National Rail website).

The Cambridge busway cheaper than rail? Hmm...

Website for the Cirencester proposal is here cirentrain.org.uk

Look at a map and you'll quickly see why Kemble station is in demand - it is a Parkway station for Cirencester, Malmesbury and Tetbury as well as the surrounding villages. Assumed Cirencester represents a third of the demand for parking spaces at Kemble, that's only about 150 people - or two full Class 153s over a whole day. Far fewer than use the Bedford - Bletchley dog boxes.
 

74A

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i would have thought from an engineering point of view it should be fairly easy to do. The whole route is fairly flat.
 

jimm

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Irrelevant - because Cirencester is less than 5 miles from a mainline rail station at Kemble and has good road connections to Swindon (for the M4) and Gloucester (for the M5).

You clearly don't know the area then - the proposition that the link to the M5 and Gloucester is good is laughable, as anyone who has ever tried to negotiate the notorious Air Balloon roundabout during any weekday rush hour - and at other times too - could tell you. The Government is long on promises to sort out this bottleneck but the latest estimate is it will be in the 2021-25 roads programme...

Look at a map and you'll quickly see why Kemble station is in demand - it is a Parkway station for Cirencester, Malmesbury and Tetbury as well as the surrounding villages. Assumed Cirencester represents a third of the demand for parking spaces at Kemble, that's only about 150 people - or two full Class 153s over a whole day. Far fewer than use the Bedford - Bletchley dog boxes.

I don't need a map thanks. I live not too far away and am well aware of the role Kemble plays. You can make all the assumptions you like about where people are coming from but there is no way of knowing how people might use a reinstated rail service from Cirencester, especially if it did run to and from Swindon, unless you go out and ask them. A 20-minute journey time to Swindon would be perfectly competitive with driving and beat the No 51 bus by a country mile.
 

Bald Rick

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You clearly don't know the area then - the proposition that the link to the M5 and Gloucester is good is laughable, as anyone who has ever tried to negotiate the notorious Air Balloon roundabout during any weekday rush hour - and at other times too - could tell you. The Government is long on promises to sort out this bottleneck but the latest estimate is it will be in the 2021-25 roads programme...

Which would be a lot, lot sooner than any railway could be built.
 

infobleep

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.....and the population of the towns along the recently re opened borders line are ?
But could the boarders railway have saved money by creating a guided bus way instead. <D

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--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The Scottish Government who were the prime movers on the Borders Railway project looked at that line from a strictly Scottish mindset and you cannot use that particular example when viewing English rail matters.

Why can't the English mindset be like Scotland?

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk
 

Noddy

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Which would be a lot, lot sooner than any railway could be built.

Any betting person would put money on a new short railway link being built before the A417 is sorted! Its been on the cards since at least the early 1990s when significant works were done on the route. Building a new dual carriageway through a SSSI in an AONB is unlikely to getting through planning quickly or cheaply. The preferred option in the 1990s was a tunnel and they don't come quickly or cheaply either.
 
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Bald Rick

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Any betting person would put money on a new short railway link being built before the A417 is sorted! Its been on the cards since at least the early 1990s when significant works were done on the route. Building a new dual carriageway through a SSSI in an AONB is unlikely to getting through planning. The preferred option in the 1990s was a tunnel and they don't come quickly or cheaply.

I'll bet you £100 on the A417 being done first.
 

HowardGWR

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On a new short railway reopening? OK

http://a417missinglink.co.uk GCCs begging bowl website for anyone who's interested/bored.

I used to be somewhat involved in this issue (A417). Key will be the response from whatever is left of the environmental agencies.

I don't see an overwhelming need for the branch from Kemble - more 'nice to have', perhaps. Cirencester is already severely damaged by road building and adding a tram / railway into its centre would not enhance its twee appeal, IMO. I would rather see the bypass more hidden with green tunnels and such, were I a local. A lot of the previous century's road building could do with extra mitigation works to hide them better.
 

jimm

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I used to be somewhat involved in this issue (A417). Key will be the response from whatever is left of the environmental agencies.

I don't see an overwhelming need for the branch from Kemble - more 'nice to have', perhaps. Cirencester is already severely damaged by road building and adding a tram / railway into its centre would not enhance its twee appeal, IMO. I would rather see the bypass more hidden with green tunnels and such, were I a local. A lot of the previous century's road building could do with extra mitigation works to hide them better.

'Twee appeal'? The south-west corner of Cirencester adjacent to the old rail corridor is hardly twee - just roads, business units and a supermarket.

If you wanted to get near the town centre using a tram-train type operation you could get to the vicinity of Waitrose/the old GWR station without going anywhere near the historic heart of the town - I can't imagine even the most enthusiastic proponent of reopening would envisage getting any more central than that anyway.

Should Lord Bathurst's plan for 2,350 more homes at Chesterton - the place suggested as a branch terminus - get planning consent, I suspect most people in Cirencester will be rather more worried about how all the people living in those new homes will get around and the inevitable extra traffic than whether there are lots of trees planted alongside the town's roads. They might also think a rail link was more essential to have than nice to have.

I can't imagine any reopening would happen in anything remotely resembling the timeframe talked about in the article from the local paper I linked to in the original post but all that housing - and homes going up at the eastern side of the town right now - have the potential to push the population to 30,000 or more. Would that be a tipping point for rail transport of some sort to return to the town? We shall see.
 

edwin_m

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I think the Warwick vehicle proposed would be capable of being operated on street with minor modifications. I'm unsure however whether it meets heavy rail crashworthiness standards so might require signalling alterations to run to Swindon.

Going by aerial photography only, the route has some encroachment by industrial units north of Wilkinson Road. Terminating SW of the roundabout on the A419 would be very close to the amphitheatre and may raise archaeological concerns. It also means visitors to the tourist part of town would be faced with a very daunting crossing of the roundabout. Really it needs to get to the other side of the A419 somehow, but that looks very difficult.

So I can see the reason it is suggested to terminate on the edge of town but for me that largely defeats the point of it. If you need to run a shuttle bus from this terminus you might as well just run it from Kemble. If the market is outward park-and-ride then people could just as well drive to a further enlarged Kemble car park.

The main thing that this could, in theory, achieve that Kemble can't is better access to Cirencester for visitors. To do that it needs to be within an easy walk of the very centre of the town.
 

A0wen

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You clearly don't know the area then - the proposition that the link to the M5 and Gloucester is good is laughable, as anyone who has ever tried to negotiate the notorious Air Balloon roundabout during any weekday rush hour - and at other times too - could tell you. The Government is long on promises to sort out this bottleneck but the latest estimate is it will be in the 2021-25 roads programme...

Everywhere has its traffic bottlenecks at peak times - have you heard of the M25? That makes a 10 min delay at the Air Balloon seem like a stroll in the park.

Cirencester is less than 20 miles from either Swindon or Gloucester and has a dual carriageway all the way to Swindon and most of the way to Gloucester.

Compare that with Galashiels on the Borders railway - Carlisle (to access the M6 is 60 miles, virtually all single carriageway, Edinburgh is about 30 miles again, virtually all single carriageway.

Add in the routes to Malmesbury or Tetbury which can take you closer to Bath / Bristol on the M4 and Cirencester has FAR better road connections than the Borders Rail towns do - and that's before you factor in the proximity to the rail network which the Borders rail towns didn't have until the line was rebuilt.

I don't need a map thanks. I live not too far away and am well aware of the role Kemble plays. You can make all the assumptions you like about where people are coming from but there is no way of knowing how people might use a reinstated rail service from Cirencester, especially if it did run to and from Swindon, unless you go out and ask them. A 20-minute journey time to Swindon would be perfectly competitive with driving and beat the No 51 bus by a country mile.

Even if EVERYBODY in Cirencester used the train, you'd be looking at 20,000 journeys a day - given Swindon station has annual usage stats of 3.35m / p.a. IF that was averaged you're looking at about 9,500 users a day - that on a population of 210,000. So, if you accept Cirencester's population is 10% that of Swindon, it's reasonable to assume that a rail station would attract a similar % age use - so 10% of 9,500 = 950. And that's got to be an absolute max - if you look at Long Buckby station on the WCML that doesn't get that level of use, despite 3tph to London and Birmingham and it being the main station for Daventry which is a similar size to Cirencester.
 

JohnR

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I think a lot depends on the cost of construction and operation.

I think they are suggesting a lighter form of construction, with speed limits of 25 or 40mph - its perhaps more akin to the standard of a heritage railway?
 

jimm

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Everywhere has its traffic bottlenecks at peak times - have you heard of the M25? That makes a 10 min delay at the Air Balloon seem like a stroll in the park.

Cirencester is less than 20 miles from either Swindon or Gloucester and has a dual carriageway all the way to Swindon and most of the way to Gloucester.

Compare that with Galashiels on the Borders railway - Carlisle (to access the M6 is 60 miles, virtually all single carriageway, Edinburgh is about 30 miles again, virtually all single carriageway.

Add in the routes to Malmesbury or Tetbury which can take you closer to Bath / Bristol on the M4 and Cirencester has FAR better road connections than the Borders Rail towns do - and that's before you factor in the proximity to the rail network which the Borders rail towns didn't have until the line was rebuilt.

Even if EVERYBODY in Cirencester used the train, you'd be looking at 20,000 journeys a day - given Swindon station has annual usage stats of 3.35m / p.a. IF that was averaged you're looking at about 9,500 users a day - that on a population of 210,000. So, if you accept Cirencester's population is 10% that of Swindon, it's reasonable to assume that a rail station would attract a similar % age use - so 10% of 9,500 = 950. And that's got to be an absolute max - if you look at Long Buckby station on the WCML that doesn't get that level of use, despite 3tph to London and Birmingham and it being the main station for Daventry which is a similar size to Cirencester.

10 minutes? If only...

I have said nothing about the Borders Railway because I don't believe it is in any way, shape or form a valid comparison with what has been suggested here, which even the sketchiest reading of the newspaper story or the campaign website would make clear.

As for the wonders of road links, keep on building more houses with precious little increase in local employment opportunities and the roads are going to get ever less wonderful - not that the roads in other directions out of Cirencester than the A419 axis are wonderful anyway. Another Cotswold town that has doubled in size since the 1970s - Witney - also has a campaign for rail reinstatement, because the A40 and B4044 into Oxford are now choked with traffic. People drive to Hanborough for an eight-minute train ride into Oxford because the congestion and resulting road journey times are now so bad.

Trying to argue that the size of a town forms a magic formula dictating station usage is dubious, to put it politely. Not far away, Charlbury, population under 3,000, generated station footfall of 305,000 in 2014-15. There is an element of park-and-ride here too, but there are alternative stations a lot closer to Charlbury than Stroud and Swindon are from Kemble.

I am deeply sceptical about the prospects for the idea of reviving the Cirencester branch myself, at least in the short term, but I am not going to as airily dismissive as you seem to be.
 

A0wen

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10 minutes? If only...

I have said nothing about the Borders Railway because I don't believe it is in any way, shape or form a valid comparison with what has been suggested here, which even the sketchiest reading of the newspaper story or the campaign website would make clear.

As for the wonders of road links, keep on building more houses with precious little increase in local employment opportunities and the roads are going to get ever less wonderful - not that the roads in other directions out of Cirencester than the A419 axis are wonderful anyway. Another Cotswold town that has doubled in size since the 1970s - Witney - also has a campaign for rail reinstatement, because the A40 and B4044 into Oxford are now choked with traffic. People drive to Hanborough for an eight-minute train ride into Oxford because the congestion and resulting road journey times are now so bad.

Trying to argue that the size of a town forms a magic formula dictating station usage is dubious, to put it politely. Not far away, Charlbury, population under 3,000, generated station footfall of 305,000 in 2014-15. There is an element of park-and-ride here too, but there are alternative stations a lot closer to Charlbury than Stroud and Swindon are from Kemble.

I am deeply sceptical about the prospects for the idea of reviving the Cirencester branch myself, at least in the short term, but I am not going to as airily dismissive as you seem to be.

Let's try and keep the statistics using a consistent metric shall we? So 305,000 p.a = about 900 / day.

Then let's look at what the other factors might be - could it perhaps be Witney (popn 20,000) close by?

Now, like you say, technically there are stations closer to Witney than Charlbury, however Finstock (the closest station) gets 1 train / day (as do Coombe, Ascott Under Wychwood and Shipton), weekdays only. The alternative would be Hanborough - but that doesn't look much closer and means travelling towards Oxford.

Of course the other place which might be giving custom to Charlbury is Chipping Norton - about the same distance from Chipping to either Charlbury or Kingham but Charlbury would mean less time on the train.

Add together Chipping, Witney and Charlbury and you're looking at a population of about 30,000.

I'm not saying there is a single % of population will use local rail station figure, because there isn't. It will vary depending on the area - for example in London it will be *much* higher. Which is why I used Long Buckby as an example - it's a rural station with major destinations each way, it gets most of its custom from a local non-rail connected town and there are decent road connections.

But to pretend that Cirencester can justify or sustain a viable rail link, given there is reasonably good local access to the rail network seems somewhat improbable.

And the reason I mentioned the Borders railway is another poster tried to use it as an example - which I pointed out was invalid because those places have far worse transport connections with the A7 and were a long way from the closest rail station.
 
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