Monthly Archives: May 2016

Surrey County Council launches Heathrow southern rail access study

Surrey County Council has revealed plans to launch a study to examine the possibility of creating a rail link to Heathrow from the south in the month the airport celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Around 9,000 people from Surrey work at the airport but there is currently no direct rail link from the county.

It means that more than three-quarters of them currently commute to Heathrow on the county’s roads*, which are among the busiest in the country.

The news comes after a Network Rail report suggested there was a strong case for a new route connecting Heathrow, which opened on 31 May 1946 as London Airport, to Waterloo, Guildford and Basingstoke – generally referred to by the industry as ‘southern rail access’.

Last year the authority called for a new rail service to Waterloo from the airport via Staines and improved rail access to Heathrow was previously identified in the council’s rail strategy as key to helping boost economic growth.

Surrey has already thrown its weight behind the Crossrail 2 project and called for full electrification of the North Downs Line for the benefits it will bring for commuters and the county’s £37 billion economy.

Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning Mike Goodman said: “Good transport links are vital for economic growth.

“Thousands of people travel to Heathrow from Surrey every day, whether it’s to go to work or fly for business or pleasure.

“But rail links to the airport from the county are poor and Surrey’s roads are among the country’s busiest. That’s why we have decided to launch this study, irrespective of whether Heathrow expands.”

Arup has been commissioned to write the report, which is expected to be published by the summer, and discussions are now taking place about the key areas it should cover.

*Heathrow Airport Employment Survey

Rail-related tourism fund supports expansion

A rail-related tourism fund has supported a number of schemes which will expand the rail network. Seventeen schemes were funded with three supporting the restoration of services using three very different transport modes.

Chinnor and Princes Risborough Rail Association (C&PRRA): heritage rail interchange with main line services at Princes Risborough – £75,000. The project will extend the heritage rail line from Chinnor to its former terminus at Princes Risborough station and see the reinstatement of a platform and loop line at Princes Risborough for interchange with services from London and other main line destinations.

WMG, University of Warwick: a very light rail shuttle between Dudley’s tourist attractions – £75,000. The project is to undertake a feasibility study for a new very light rail service linking Dudley Zoo and the Black Country Living Museum.

Rheilffordd Cwm Gwendraeth/Gwendraeth Valley Rail: valley community rail corridor and velorail development £75,000. A unique ‘velorail’ rail bike visitor attraction will be developed on a disused Network Rail branch and rail-side land starting in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire.


Residents urged to use Okehampton Sunday service

Residents have been urged to make use of the summer Sunday rail service that will be operating between Exeter and Okehampton to show demand. This follows a difficult start for the train service last Sunday when only a single carriage 153 arrived to operate the first train service. This was resolved with a two car train operating subsequent train services.

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GWR Press Release

OkeRail is working toward re-establishing daily passenger train services on the line between Okehampton and Exeter.

Mike Davies, Chairman of OkeRail, said: “The sizeable number of passengers boarding the train at Okehampton Station on the first train demonstrated the importance of a permanent rail link between Okehampton and Exeter. Okehampton provides a crucial connection to lots of towns and villages in the north of the county as well as North Cornwall.”

Regional Development Manager Dan Okey said: “I am delighted to announce the return of these Sunday services between Exeter and Okehampton. These four return trips on Summer Sundays demonstrates our commitment to working in partnership with Devon County Council, and the newly formed OkeRail group, in support of the local community and businesses that we serve.”

Although OkeRail is independent, Devon County Council is supporting the group with technical and strategic transport advice.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, said: “The OkeRail project has empowered the community to work towards re-establishing daily train services on the existing infrastructure. The group and its aims have the full support of the County Council. The intention of the Dartmoor Rover was always to act as a catalyst to improve services and the community has galvanised to work together to meet its aspirations. Rail is a key to enabling economic growth, and this project fits in well with the County Council’s strategic and economic aims.”

Councillor Kevin Ball, Devon County Councillor for Okehampton Rural, said: “Establishing OkeRail takes us a step closer to re-introducing daily train services between Okehampton and the community has taken ownership of its aspirations to make this happen. Thanks must go to Devon County Council for continuing to part fund The Dartmoor Rover service which is always popular. If daily services could be re-introduced it will provide a huge boost to the area.”

Council takes ownership of GCR bridge

Charnwood Borough Council are to take ownership of the proposed bridge that will be used by the Great Central Railway to cross the Midland Mainline near Loughborough. The council will lease the bridge back to the GCR. The reason is understood to be because Network Rail wanted a more permanent partner to cover liabilities if the GCR ceased to exist.

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