Connecting Communities – Five Years On – Methodology

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 second post in the “Five Years On” series.


The report identified that a number of settlements had developed rapidly in the last fifteen years creating substantial settlements that had no direct rail connection. Many of these communities had to travel to railheads where they faced the challenges of congestion and the lack of car parking spaces.

The report was a departure from normal reports that looked at existing transport alignments and focused on the potential market of settlements that were not rail connected. It stated that rail development had been piecemeal with planning policies thwarting local rail developments because they had to be endorsed as projects of national significance under the Planning Act 2008. The report provided a systematic approach to rail reopening’s across England.

The report used a number of pieces of analysis for choosing areas that might benefit from an improved level of rail service provision. A key driver was the population of settlements, which were greater than 15,000. However, some settlements were included because of other factors such as issues with access to the nearest railhead.

Selected sites were then subject to a high level analysis of demand estimates. These were based on the standard practices in the Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook, using methodology based the trip generation rates of similar rail connected settlements nearby. This allowed for a cost benefit analysis to be created based on estimated costs for construction and operation and the benefits such as journey time savings.

Seventy Five settlements were identified as potential places to connect to the rail network.

New Lines

Twenty settlements could not be feasibly connected to the rail network because no practical route existed

Twenty settlements were close enough to existing railheads to be linked using other forms of transport.

Thirty Five settlements (see Table 1 and 2 below) were reviewed and the benefits and costs were analysed. Fourteen had a Benefit Cost ratio above 1.0 excluding capital expenditure. Restoration of a train service to Portishead near Bristol did not achieve the BCR but recent developments in the area and congestion could push the BCR above the threshold required. Usually a higher BCR was required but there are also economic and social benefits for restoring rail links that cannot be measured using a strict transport analysis.

Table 1 – Fifteen schemes plus their BCR that were selected for further analysis in the report

OrderStationBenefit Cost Ratio
10Washington (Leamside)1.4
11Leicester to Burton1.3
13Ashington and Blyth1.1
19PortisheadBCR could be influenced by other conditions


Table 2 -Twenty schemes that did not have a sufficiently high enough BCR to be considered for further analysis.

16Stourport – on – Severn
18Norton Radstock
21Annfield Plain (via Washington)
26Leek (via Stoke)
29Leek (via Macclesfield)
35Annfield Plain (via ECML)


New Stations

Seven settlements were identified as potential sites to be served via Park and Ride Stations on existing railway lines.

  • Rushden (Northamptonshire)
  • Peterlee (County Durham)
  • Kenilworth (Warwickshire)
  • Ilkeston (Derbyshire)
  • Clay Cross (Derbyshire)
  • Ossett (W Yorkshire)
  • Wantage (Oxfordshire)

The series will continue with updates into all of the schemes noted above.

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