The possible future of the Railways of the Vale of Evesham - Railways of the Vale of Evesham

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Railways of the Vale of Evesham
The Future(?)
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GWR Castle Class 5043 "Earl of  Mount Edgcumbe", heads out of Evesham towards Moreton-in-the-Marsh with the  first steam tour on the newly-redoubled line between the two towns, on the 17th  September, 2011.  (photograph by John Kyte - the author was on his way home from  Swanage, Dorset at this point, and so wasn't able get any of his own photographs  of this tour)
When I started this site nearly two decades ago, the future of the Vale's railways was perhaps not a positive as it is today.  Only the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway was making any obvious progress; the Cotswold Line was forever being subject to suggestions of redoubling, which tended to die away when the issue of cost was raised.  There was talk of relaying the line south of Stratford-upon-Avon back to Honeybourne, but that was all it ever remained - talk (I'll come back to this subject later).  So what might the future hold for the "Railways of the Vale of Evesham"?

As far as the Redditch to Ashchurch and Stratford and Midland Junction Railways are concerned, they are almost certainly gone forever.  The trackbed of the former has been too heavily developed, especially in the Evesham and Redditch areas to render it impossible to re-open it as a through route (a few short sections might be possible to re-open, but they are probably of no real practical use).  The trackbed of the latter is perhaps not so heavily developed, but the Stratford Southern Relief Road would seem to render a connection to Stratford station extremely difficult if not impossible, and without this, I don't think there would be much point in re-opening this line.  

Turning to the Oxford to Worcester and the dismantled sections of the Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham lines, as of 2023 I suspect that no major work will be done on these lines before 2030, with the possible exception of Pershore station being redeveloped (and as of Feb 2023, I have to read anything in the railway press about what this might entail).  The proposal to re-instate the line between Stratford and Honeybourne is not being taken any further at this time, and the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway have shelved any plans to extend from Broadway to Honeybourne for the foreseeable future.  Bearing in mind the current economic situation, neither of these comes as a surprise to me, and I fully support the GWSR’s decision as I feel it is the right one under the circumstances.

I welcome the plans to redevelop Pershore station, provided that nothing is done to prevent the redoubling of the line at a future date.  I also think it would even better if Pershore could at least be turned into a passing point, but I suspect that is not going to happen for cost reasons.

I am disappointed, but not surprised by the decision not to re-instate the Stratford to Honeybourne link.  Having got a copy of the 2012 report (a link can be found in the
Bibliography section of this site; bear in mind this is now over ten years' old), and done some other research, I’m not convinced the proposed solution to dealing with the issue of the road use of the former trackbed in Stratford is viable, and I’m not convinced that the levels of service proposed could be implemented without at the very least redoubling the line west of Evesham to Norton Junction. I’m not the only one who has doubts on this (see the Bibliography page for a link to another site I found during research).  

The decision by the GWSR not to extend north from Broadway doesn’t surprise me either; in fact, I would have been amazed if they had announced they were going to proceed with this.  As I see it, they would be saddled with a massive infrastructure liability, which could potentially cripple the railway financially (especially in the current economic climate), for a section of line that may not have a sufficient business case to justify the expenditure.  It also assumes that the railway would be permitted to use the existing Honeybourne station on the national network, which they would be required to access in order to do this.  If this is not possible, then the extension would perhaps become pointless.

 I could go on further about this, but I’d perhaps prefer to do some research first.  I would perhaps add that I’d be very surprised if a Broadway to Honeybourne extension could be completed in less than ten years and for less than £10 million.

For the moment it seems, it’s a case of having to make do with what we’ve got; hopefully we won’t lose any of that.  

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