Shropshire's Cambrian Heritage Railways to grow after Government hands over operations

A heritage railway in Shropshire is poised for expansion after the Government handed over its operations to a community group.

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An engine travels along the extended railway line, at Cambrian Heritage Railways

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has agreed to hand rights over for the branch line between Gobowen, Oswestry and Blodwel to Cambrian Heritage Railways.

The Cambrian Railways Order will see Network Rail transfer all rights and liabilities over to the former branch line, which closed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

Several stretches of the line have already been acquired and reopened in parts. The latest move paves the way for the extension of the track as far as the Western Wharf on the edge of Oswestry, linking it with other businesses such as the Stonehouse Brewery.

The long-term aim is to extend the railway to the mainline station at Gobowen. It could also mean the introduction of a tram system linking Gobowen Station to the nearby orthopaedic hospital, which is another part of the overall plan for the group of railways.

Cambrian trustee Roger Date said: “This will mean that all the various railways that we are running can connect up. The opportunities for Oswestry and the area are immense. The number of people that could come by train for the heritage railway and then visit the town is exponential.”

The railway reopened for passengers in 2011, but the latest order means the heritage railway has a right to use the line in a way that previously rested with Network Rail, and formally approves the opening of the railway.

Councillor Vince Hunt, Oswestry’s deputy mayor, said: “This act will help them to develop their offer to the public. The railway is looking to see the route under and beyond the Gasworks Bridge and on to Weston Wharf opened.

“I would love to see the railway go all the way to Gobowen but we have to look at that for the long term. In the meantime reopening the line to Weston Wharf is a first, exciting step.”

Transport and Works Orders authorise new railway or tramway schemes in England and Wales. One of the main problems with reopening the line in full is that it crosses two of the busiest roads in Shropshire – the A5 near Oswestry and the A483 Welshpool road.

But the railway’s operators have “presented indicative designs for the crossings without level crossings”, according to the Department for Transport, which says the move will boost Oswestry’s tourism and improve links to the orthopaedic hospital.

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Comments for: "Shropshire's Cambrian Heritage Railways to grow after Government hands over operations"

Roger

I an convinced that

oswestry needs a Parkway Railway Station/ Park and Ride at the hospital site with connection to the Cambrian line so that light railway trains can run into Oswestry. However that does leave the problem of crossing the A5 on a frequent basis which the current crossing is not suitable for. The solution is an under pass or bridge and can't see the Railway Society ever affording to do that. perhaps the A5 improvement can include something for that problem. I see it as part of the development of a Shropshire Metro system of light trains running on the Network rail network. It is on my view the best solution to getting people into old towns like Shrewsbury and connecting up the small town and villages on the railway without the need for new radial roads for which there is no room. Pushing the car parking and traffic out into the towns and villages where new stations and park and rides can be accommodated. But the practical limitation is cost. Cost to build the stations and car parks and the cost of park and ride tickets. It has to be cheaper, easier and faster than driving into town and parking. It also has to be a more environment friendly solution.

We can use buses on express routes to start with but the railway is the long term best alternative. Railway car parks as built befor the age of the car do not have the space for cars so we should be looking at carpar sites next to the railway where a halt can incorporated. It is the onl;y way to get the speed of transit to overcome the road congestion problems and be advantageous. The halts can then serve as mini hubs for local bus services using community controlled mini buses to get non drivers to the halts. Maybe even volunteer drivers. It certainly looks like the existing rural bus services are under threat so we need different solutions. The Cambrian railway fits nicely into this scheme, other than crossing the A5 as it currently does.

The other challenges are Telford to Bridgnorth and connecting the hospitals into the network. Oswestry is easy, Shrewsbury and Telford not so. New vehicles that can run tracks or roads may be the answer for the hospitals ie out the towns on the track to the Ot tram lines in roads. nearest point to hospitals and finish the journey by road. A service running between the three main hospital sites and the park and rides in Telford and Shrewsbury. They could start now using buses.

oswestry

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