Fringe Box



Letter: Trains, Not Trams, Buses or a Canal

Published on: 2 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 1 Apr, 2023

From: Frank Phillipson

See: Transport Matters: The Most Ill-judged Cut of All

If the Guildford to Cranleigh line is resurrected as a transport route it cannot be as a tram or bus way as from Shalford these forms of transport would need to use the A281 road corridor to reach Guildford.

This would totally negate any benefit of using the route of the former railway line. The reinstatement needs to be of a rail line that can take railway vehicles that can use the existing rail tunnels to gain access to Guildford avoiding use of road space.

It is most concerning that the Wey and Arun Canal Trust are proposing to use the former railway line through Bramley as a new canal route to connect up with the ‘River Wey’.

While wholeheartedly in favour of canal restoration generally,  in this instance it cannot be at the expense of preventing the possible reinstatement of what could be a valuable railway line.

As for the Downslink path, it would seem possible to retain this alongside the railway (as at some other railway locations) or with some minor diversions.

Surrey County Council seems oblivious to the benefits that reinstatement of the railway line could have. One statement originating from this source is “Studies in the 1990s concluded that most trips in the area were not between Guildford and Cranleigh and only 3 per cent of capital costs would be recouped in the first year”.

Whoever wrote that statement obviously never observed the amount of traffic on the A281 or the B2128 through Shamley Green and Wonersh heading to Guildford.

There is also a statement that “There is no capacity at Guildford Station to reintroduce the line”. Yet Guildford is a station with eight platforms!

In January 2020 the Government announced the “Restoring Your Railway Fund” as part of the levelling up agenda when the government pledged £500 million to deliver on its manifesto commitment and start reopening lines and stations.

The railways minister stated “By funding development to reopen these lines and stations, the government is levelling up local communities, providing transformative opportunities for people to travel to work, get to school and see their family and friends”.

The “Restoring Your Railway Fund” has had the following successful bids for funding (a small sample from Gov.UK’s Transparency data – Restoring your railway: successful bids:

  • Reinstate the line and provision of new services, Tavistock – Plymouth
  • Reinstate the Beverley – York line
  • Reopen the Askern Branch line (Yorkshire and Humberside)
  • Reinstate the Bury-Heywood-Rochdale lines
  • To reinstate branch lines on the Isle of Wight
  • Reopened lines and new passenger services, Melton Mowbray – Nottingham
  • Reopened lines and new passenger services, Kemble – Cirencester
  • Reopened lines and new passenger services, Wareham – Swanage
  • Reopen the Oswestry – Gobowen line
  • To introduce passenger services on the Totton-Fawley (Waterside) line.

On the Dartmoor Line to Okehampton trains returned in November 2021 for first time in 50 years as a result of the Restoring Your Railway scheme. Network Rail’s team of engineers laid 11 miles of new track installing 24,000 concrete sleepers and 29,000 tonnes of ballast.

So, reinstating the line from Peasmarsh Junction to Cranleigh is not so far-fetched as some would have you believe.

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Responses to Letter: Trains, Not Trams, Buses or a Canal

  1. John Lomas Reply

    April 3, 2023 at 7:38 am

    Surely the rails were still in place for the Dartmoor line as it served Meldon quarry beyond Okehampton.

    Equally the rails for Bury to Rochdale are still there and the East Lancs Railway is already covering the section from Bury to Heywood and the Heywood towards Rochdale stretch is the rail access for visiting trains to the ELR.

    How many of the projects listed by Frank Phillipson actually require relaying of track?

    If trams were used what would prevent them using the existing track from Peasmarsh junction into Guildford using either batteries or a shoe pick up for the third rail?

    • Frank Phillipson Reply

      April 4, 2023 at 12:00 am

      The rail line to Okehampton, although still in place, was only fit for low-speed freight traffic. Eleven miles of track had to be laid together with signalling and other measures necessary to run passenger trains. Many other present freight lines listed would require similar renewal to meet passenger transport standards.

      Rolling stock for the service between Peasmarsh Junction and Guildford station would need, at a minimum, to be of the “Train-Tram” type, capable of running over the main line. But use of the “Train-Tram” as the main form of rolling stock would be disappointing as it would preclude the use of mainline trains which could run into and out of the Cranleigh line to the rest of the main rail network. It would also not to possibly extend the present “New Guildford Line” trains, that come via Effingham Junction and terminate in Guildford, to continue through the tunnel and serve Cranleigh.

      • John Lomas Reply

        April 4, 2023 at 1:18 pm

        I thank Frank Phillipson. I raised the points just to get some further info into the public domain to help, possibly, to increase the pros rather than the antis.

  2. Anthony Derbyshire Reply

    April 3, 2023 at 12:11 pm

    Tram Trains run on normal railway lines and tramlines can be built into roads. They are the same gauge. In Cranleigh, the Tram Train would enter the station and could then reverse out to Dunsfold.

    As for guided busways, as in Cambridge, I do not advocate such a system. Concrete monstrosity and not user-friendly for pollution.
    We have a disused railway line sitting there doing nothing and all we get is hot air from the politicians. Surrey County Council should be ashamed of themselves as should GBC and Waverley for missing the “Reopening” government program.

    Oxford council has just committed £4 million to reopen two miles of track to the Mini factory, south of Oxford, through much more difficult terrain.

  3. H Trevor Jones Reply

    April 14, 2023 at 8:48 pm

    I add to preceding good comments and make one clarification, although Guildford has eight platforms it only has seven tracks, one of which is a north-facing “bay” platform, and three of its seven tracks are already used by terminating trains which stay put for significant periods of time every hour.

    This leads to my observation that while a tram-train would in theory be possible for Cranleigh, it would add to extra congestion of terminating trains in Guildford, whereas a standard national rail service would reduce Guildford train congestion because an existing terminating train could extend to Cranleigh.

    • Frank Phillipson Reply

      April 18, 2023 at 8:20 pm

      Platforms can be used to terminate more than one train at a time and operate at various locations on the rail network. Cranleigh trains could terminate in the southern end of a platform used by trains terminating from the north.

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