Connecting Communities

The Connecting Communities Report was published in June 2009 by ATOC.


Five Years On – Wisbech and Ivanhoe

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 twelfth post in the “Five Years On” series.

This post reviews the progress of the Wisbech and Ivanhoe lines.

 

Wisbech

The March to Wisbech line was proposed with a potential Park and Ride where the route crosses the A47. ATOC expected a train service from Wisbech to Peterborough with reopening costing £12m and a BCR of 1.1.

There has been an ongoing project to reinstate the railway line as a heritage railway. It has established a base at Waldersea.

Cambridgeshire County Council launched a three stage feasibility study in 2012 and the first stage reported in 2013 advising that the route was feasible.

The route gained further financial support in July 2014 when it received LGF support to proceed with the next stage of the feasibility studies.

 

Leicester to Burton (Ivanhoe)

The Leicester to Burton line was proposed with stations at Kirby Muxloe, Bagworth, Coalville, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Moira and Gresley (for Swadlincote). The ATOC proposal was to upgrade the existing line to passenger standards with an additional passing loop. The expected costs were £49m with a BCR of 1.3.

Very little progress has been made with the project. The proposal was reviewed in 2008 with the report advising that the BCR value would be 0.4. Local MP’s wrote to Patrick McLoughlin in December 2013 to encourage the DfT to fund a feasibility study into restoring the route.


Five Years On – Cranleigh and Wantage and Grove 1

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 eleventh post in the “Five Years On” series.

This post reviews the progress of two of the railway stations in the West Midlands.

Wantage and Grove

This Park and Ride station proposal was located on the Great Western Mainline between Didcot and Swindon. The BCR was expected to be 3.8 with a cost of £4m. ATOC expected it to be served by a shuttle from Didcot.

Oxfordshire County Council have advised that a railway stations serving the area around Wantage and Grove remains a key aspiration for the County Councils long term transport strategy and the Oxfordshire Strategic Economic Plan safeguards the reopening of the station as a future option.

A major issue is that the railway station would sit on the Great Western Mainline and stopping trains at the railway station would substantially affect the timetable. The Council is currently reviewing its transport vision and has proposed a light rail system as an option.

Cranleigh

A seven mile single track electrified railway line was proposed with stations at Bramley and Cranleigh. The BCR was 1.7 and capital costs were £63m.

The Surrey Rail Strategy reviewed the potential for restoring the railway line between Guildford and Cranleigh but the proposal was rejected due to the lack of a viable business case.


Five Years On – Aldridge and Brownhills 1

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 tenth post in the “Five Years On” series.

This post reviews the progress of two of the railway stations in the West Midlands.

Aldridge

It would be located on the line between Walsall and Water Orton (Sutton Park Freight Line), with proposals to run the service from Birmingham New Street for 3 miles from Ryecroft Junction. ATOC assumed that the line would not be electrified. With expenses of £6m, the route was expected to have a BCR of 1.7.

The Black Country Strategic Transport Board has been discussing options for allocating funds from the Major Scheme Funding scheme. The board have allocated £5.2 million to a project worth £23.2 million to restore the railway station and electrify the route.

The proposal has been put forward for investment from the Black Country Strategic Transport Board but this was unsuccessful.

The Black Country LEP has put the restoration project forward for its bid.

Brownhills

This proposal was to deliver a five mile branch or a 10 mile diversion route between Lichfield and Walsall. With expected costs of £52m, the BCR was expected to be 1.7.

The route does not appear to have had much development in the last five years, with the focus on the Aldridge proposal.


Five Years On – Ashington and Washington

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 ninth post in the “Five Years On” series.

This post reviews the progress of two of the railway reopening schemes in the North East.

Ashington and Blyth

The restoration of passenger services to Ashington would use the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne route. The line is currently open to freight services. It had indicative costs of £34m and the BCR was 1.1 and stations were planned Seaton Delaval, Bedlington, Newsham (for Blyth) and Ashington.

The reopening of the route is supported by the South East Northumberland Rail User Group.  Since 2009, a number of reports have been produced and the GRIP 1 report has just been completed.

The council has allocated £750,000 to commission the reports required to reopen the route and services on the line to Ashington were recently included in the Draft Northern and Transpennine Franchise Consultation

Washington

The report proposed the reopening of the entire Leamside line with a dynamic loop. The proposal was costed at £86m and the BCR was 1.4.

There have been two options for restoring a rail connection to Washington.

Heavy Rail services along the whole Leamside route. It would act as a diversionary route for freight from the ECML through Durham as well as access to communities along the route.

Tyne and Wear Metro services approaching from the north and the east. The most recent draft consultation document from Nexus has suggested that the preferred option to serve Washington would be by running railway services into the centre of Washington, with services from Pelaw and South Hylton.


Council Leader proposes Grove Tram Scheme

Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth, who held a public meeting in Wantage, has suggested that he might turn the former station into a tram hub if Network Rail doesn’t re-open it for trains.

Click here for the story

Update

Over 100 people attended a meeting where the Council was accused of not providing enough support for reopening a railway station at Grove. However, the council advised that Network Rail would not support a railway station because of timetable constraints.

Click here for the story


Five Years On – Clay Cross and Ilkeston 2

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 eighth post in the “Five Years On” series.

This post reviews the progress of two of the railway stations in the East Midlands.

Clay Cross

The report advised that this would sit on the Erewash line and would achieve a BCR of 1.9.

Clay Cross does not appear to have progressed with the proposed station having a less strong case than the proposal at Ilkeston. North East Derbyshire Council have the following comments about the proposal.

The Council has no plans in the short or medium term to actually construct a station for Clay Cross; however we do hold the following information. The Council agreed with the original owners of the former Biwater site that part of that site would be reserved for a station building. The site has now been acquired by St Modwens, so the Council intends to seek the same agreed reservations with St Modwens. It is unlikely that any construction of a station would happen before the majority of the Biwater site is developed out – which could take up to 20 years.

Ilkeston Railway Station

Ilkeston Railway Station is one of the projects suggested in the Connecting Communities report that has been funded for delivery and is on course to be opened during December 2014. The report advised that it would achieve a BCR of 4.3.

Ilkeston Railway Station has had issues with sourcing the necessary funding. It failed to gain funding from Round 2 of the Regional Growth Fund and the Network Rail Station Commercial Facility Fund.

In late 2012 it received funding from Derbyshire CC and Greater Nottingham Joint Planning Advisory Board. This was then followed by a successful bid to the New Stations Fund, which was announced in May 2013.

The planning process has been lengthened by the railway station sitting on a border between two borough councils. As a result, the plans have had to be authorised by both councils before proceeding.

Work is getting underway and the station is expected to be opened in December 2014.


Five Years On – Skelmersdale, Rawtenstall and Fleetwood

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 seventh post in the “Five Years On” series.

This post reviews the progress of three of the railway schemes in the North West of England.

Skelmersdale

A new branch is proposed to connect Skelmersdale with the National Rail network. There have been a number of proposals raised but all involve extending the Merseyrail Electrics Network to a location at or near Skelmersdale. ATOC proposed a branch off the Ormskirk line to a site to the North West of town.

ATOC advised that expenditure would be £31m and the BCR would be 1.1 (2.73 with capital expenditure).

A feasibility study was approved and funded in December 2012, by Merseytravel and Lancashire County Council. Merseytravel advised that this work is still ongoing. A substantial issue has been the location of Skelmersdale which sits close to the border between Merseyside and Lancashire. Discussions have been undertaken to agree the scope of the report and it should be published during Summer 2014.

Rawtenstall

This was the second proposal to use a heritage railway (in this case, the East Lancashire Railway) to connect a settlement to the rail network. The plan was to upgrade run a service from Manchester Victoria to Rawtenstall via Heywood, with permission from the East Lancashire Railway to run trains over its line. With indicative capital expenditure of £50m, the BCR was expected to be 1.8.

In July 2010, a report produced for Transport for Greater Manchester indicated that restoring a commuter service would require subsidy and favoured developing existing bus services.

The local MP, Jake Berry has supported the restoration of services on this line and the government planned to hold talks to restore services in March 2012. During Autumn 2013, Lancashire County Council undertook a consultation into transport through the draft East Lancashire Highway’s and Transport Masterplan. The results were published in February 2014, with the following comments.

There was a significant response calling for the East Lancashire Railway to be utilised as a commuter link and incorporated into the proposals within the draft East Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan. We have therefore moved consideration of a potential commuter link from the rail connectivity study to the M66 corridor gateway study to ensure that the corridor is treated holistically and that a long term solution to congestion in the corridor is found.

The results of the updated A56/M66 Haslingden/Rawtenstall to Manchester Gateway Study is currently awaited.

Fleetwood

Lying north of Blackpool on a branch from Poulton, the ATOC Connecting Communities proposed restoring the 5.5 mile branch line and installing railway stations at Fleetwood and Thornton. ATOC advised that the railway line could be restored for £14m, with a BCR of 1.8.

Whilst the case for reopening the line was described as compelling by a draft report into Rail Improvement Schemes by Lancashire County Council.

The Poulton and Wyre Railway Society are currently restoring parts of the line in order to run a heritage operation on the route.


Five Years On – Rushden and Kenilworth

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 fifth post in the “Five Years On” series.

This post reviews the progress of two of the proposed Park & Ride railway stations.

Rushden

Located on the Midland Mainline between Bedford and Wellingborough, a station was proposed at the site of the former Irthlingborough station. It had the highest BCR for a proposed Park and Ride station at 10.2.

Northamptonshire County Council has advised that they have no plans to reopen the railway station on the Midland Mainline. The report inadvertently advised that the station would be built on the Irthlingborough site and not Irchester.

Kenilworth

The proposal for a railway station at Kenilworth has had a difficult journey.  The ATOC report located in between Leamington and Coventry and assumed that the line would be doubled.

In September 2009, Warwickshire County Council and John Laing signed an agreement to fund and deliver the railway station.  Both parties moved quickly to progress plans, including land purchase and submitting bids for funding.

However, in October 2010, it was confirmed that the Department for Transport Major Scheme Bid funding route was no longer available to new entrants.

Consequently and after exploring other potential sources of funding, the county council and John Laing submitted a bid for funding through the new Regional Growth Fund in January 2011.

Unfortunately the bid was unsuccessful and the County Council and John Laing have reviewed their relationship.

The agreement will now continue until June 2011 in order to complete some outstanding work in order that the scheme will be in an advanced state of readiness to take advantage of future funding opportunities.

This left the proposals in a good position to take advantage of future funding opportunities. The Government announced the New Stations Fund and Warwickshire County Council submitted a bid to the government in March 2013. The government confirmed in May 2013 that it was minded to approve funding following further work on the impact of the railway station on the existing infrastructure and proposed improvements. This approval was granted in December 2013 with plans to begin services on the Coventry – Kenilworth- Leamington corridor in December 2016.

 


Five Years On – Ringwood and Bordon

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 fourth post in the “Five Years On” series.

This post reviews the progress of two railway line reopening schemes that were proposed in the South West of England.

 Ringwood

This proposal was going to use ten miles of the former Brocknehurst – Wimborne –Poole line. It was costed as £70m with a BCR of 1.5. Only one station was going to be delivered at Ringwood and ATOC proposed that it was electrified so that it could be served by trains from London. Despite being mentioned in this report, the project has not been taken forward since its inclusion here and Hampshire County Council are not involved in any plans to reopen the line.

Bordon

This proposal was going to use five miles of the former Bentley to Bordon line and the Longmoor Military Railway. Only one station was going to be provided at Bordon and ATOC proposed that it was electrified. It was costed at £50m with a BCR of 1.9.

Hampshire County Council have been progressing a number of transport reports as part of an EcoTown proposal for Whitehill and Bordon. A GRIP 2 study (published February 2010) found that although operationally a route to Alton was most desirable, it would be the most expensive because of the tunnelling required. The best performing option was the line to Bentley with a through service to London. This option was taken forward into the GRIP 3 report

The GRIP 3 (June 2012) report looked into the feasibility of direct services to London and found that a substantial part of the costs would be absorbed by a major recast of all train timetables operated by South West Trains. Work such as a shuttle service or portion operation were found to hasve BCR’s that would not pass the 2.0 BCR requirements. The BCR was also impacted by a reduction in size of the Eco Town from 5,300 dwellings to 4,000.

The local council investigated the opportunities to serve the corridor using Heavy Rail, Light Rail, Ultra Light Rail and a Guided Busway. These were all found to deliver poor value for money.

As a result of the GRIP 3, the transport strategy for the Eco Town have focused on existing transport modes and enhancing accessibility at nearby railway stations.


Five Years On – Hythe and Brixham

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.

Hythe Branch

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 Branch

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.