June 2014 marks five years since the publication of the Connecting Communities report into potential opportunities to expand the rail network. This blog will be publishing a set of posts during June to review the progress that has been made to date. This is the third post in the “Five Years On” series.
This post reviews the progress of the two railway line reopening schemes that achieved the highest Benefit Cost ratio.
This proposal would use an existing freight branch linking Hythe to Southampton. ATOC advised that expenditure would be £3m and BCR would be 4.8. Only one station would be constructed at Hythe
The Waterside branch has had a strong campaign behind it and Hampshire County Council commissioned GRIP 2 (that reported in 2011) and GRIP 3 (reported in 2013). The GRIP 3 report stated that the BCR was unlikely to be more than 1.4. Although the line was likely to deliver benefits to local residents, modal shift would not be substantial enough to cover the subsidies.
The conclusions of the report were reviewed by Hampshire County Council on 21st January 2014 and council voted to shelve further development to reopen the line.
Another substantial issue was the location of the line and its existing uses. The line would have required a DMU in a 3rd Rail area. The line is single track and currently has requirements for freight trains to use it. As a result, infrastructure would probably need to be upgraded in order to meet existing freight requirements and proposed passenger train requirements.
Brixham was one of two proposals that would have used existing heritage railways (in this case the Dartmouth Steam Railway) to connect the settlement with the National Rail Network. ATOC advised that the proposal would require zero capital investment and a BCR of 3.0. Two stations would be used at Goodrington Sands and Churston. A bus link would be used to connect Churston to Brixham.
Devon County Council and Torbay Borough Council advised that they had no plans to proceed with this proposal.