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Transport Campaign Group Calls for the Reopening of the Guildford-Cranleigh-Horsham Line

Published on: 28 Sep, 2018
Updated on: 1 Oct, 2018

ERTA’s website. Click to view.

The English Regional Transport Association (ERTA) has thrown its support behind the idea of rebuilding the Guildford-Horsham-Shoreham railway line. They say the rebuilt line would give extra local transport options.

A spokesperson said: “We support local group initiatives but also see the strategic role.  Such a reopening would enable, for instance, Oxford-Reading-Guildford journeys and a Heathrow to Gatwick link via Horsham from the south and Brighton. It would relieve the Brighton mainline and enable new flows to relieve pressure on the roads.”

A Guildford forum of ERTA will be held at 2pm on October 6 (2018) at Rodboro Buildings and is open to the public.

Local chairman Richard Pill said: “All are welcome. People rightly complain about over-crowding, but unless lines like the Guildford-Cranleigh-Horsham can be rebuilt … we lock-in congestion, air pollution and cost.

“The government has committed £100 billion to cover the costs of the High Speed 2 (HS2) Rail Link, which we believe to be the ‘wrong type of railway’. That money could better be spent on reopenings as per our pamphlet.

“…our forums are open to all, are able to discuss other related rail link matters, consider local bus, pedestrian and cycle links and build more local support for improving the round of mobility, access and daily transport experience.”

Down Guildford to Horsham train at Bramley and Wonersh on June 12, 1965, the last day of public services on the line.

The Guildford to Horsham Branch line was one of those that were closed under the “Beeching Cuts” in the 1960s. It is said that it was never commercially profitable. The last service from Guildford ran in June 1965.

Currently use of rail services locally and nationally continues to rise. In 2015 it was reported that about 1.6 billion passenger rail journeys had been made in the previous year, double the 800 million figure of the late 1990s.

More than 200 trains leave Guildford Station for London every weekday.

In 2016-17, the most recent figures available, over eight million passengers entered or exited Guildford station. On an average weekday, there are 209 trains per day travelling from Guildford to London.

Rt Hon Anne Milton MP

Guildford’s MP Anne Milton commented: “I do commute to Westminster by train but not so frequently in my current role in government.  However, I do use other rail services around the country.  I completely understand the frustrations of daily commuters and I write frequently to the rail operators to raise all of these concerns.

“The idea of re-opening the Guildford-Horsham railway line is not a new one. There are considerable challenges to re-instating the line, some of which simply aren’t now available. I would also be very concerned by any proposal to remove the access for cyclists and walkers to the Downs Link which now occupies much of the route.

“ERTA’s biggest challenge would be the cost of such a major project and where to find the funds.  There would need to be: a robust analysis of how well the rail line would be used; the impact on the villages through which the rail would run as this would be significant; and, as with all infrastructure, this would likely mean more homes being built in constrained village locations.

“I would always recommend people attend meetings so they can learn more but I suspect this particular project has too many obstacles to overcome.”

Bob McShee

But railway enthusiast Cllr Bob McShee (Ind Worplesdon) was more optimistic. He said: “I am a frequent user of local railways and think that the re-opening of the Guildford to Horsham line is an excellent idea, particularly in view of the planned large housing developments around Guildford, particularly at Dunsfold airfield.

“As English Regional Transport Association (ERTA) is supporting the rebuilding of the Guildford – Horsham – Shoreham rail link then this would take the pressure off the local road network, particularly the A281, and provide an agreeable alternative for Guildford residents.

“Another local rail link that should be provided is a fast, direct service from Guildford to Farnham, especially during the rush hours to relieve the traffic congestion on the Hogs Back.

“The Redhill to Reading line should also be electrified to replace the existing air-polluting diesel trains, and then a more extensive train service could be introduced.

“A stumbling block to any improvement around Guildford is the tunnel south of the station, so a second tunnel is essential when considering the rebuilding of the Guildford to Horsham line.”

Zoe Franklin

“Zoe Franklin the prospective parliamentary Liberal Democrat candidate said: “I currently use the railway system to commute irregularly out of rush hour across the south and east of England. My husband commutes daily to London.

“My experience is largely positive, my husband’s the opposite.

“Reopening the Guildford-Horsham line has been raised with the Lib Dems repeatedly over the last decade or more, and enthusiasm has grown significantly recently due to development proposed and already being forced upon communities along the route, especially Cranleigh.

“The only way we can really tackle the associated increase in road traffic commuting to and via Guildford is to be bold and look seriously at reopening the route. Yes, there are challenges but the potential benefits far outweigh the negatives. A regular, reliable route would reduce pressure on roads, potentially cut commuting times, reduce pollution and build a truly 21st-century transport network across Guildford and beyond.

“I encourage residents to attend the ETRA event.”

“Susan Parker (GGG, Send) said: “The key rail links seem to be those that connect with London – both best served and maintained and most rapid. While rail is a good means of transport, some of these lines may be controversial since old rail links have now become cycle tracks and so on.”

According to Wikipedia: “Guildford station was to have been the southern terminus for the proposed Heathrow Airtrack rail service. The project, promoted by BAA, envisaged the construction of a spur from the Waterloo to Reading Line to Heathrow Airport, creating direct rail links from the airport to Guildford, Waterloo, Woking and Reading.

“‘Airtrack’ was planned to open in 2015, subject to government approval. In April 2011, BAA announced that it was abandoning the project, citing the unavailability of government subsidy and other priorities for Heathrow, such as linking to Crossrail and HS2.”

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Responses to Transport Campaign Group Calls for the Reopening of the Guildford-Cranleigh-Horsham Line

  1. David Wragg Reply

    October 1, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Much of this line is single track, and in places there has been development on the line, so re-opening could be very expensive. In addition to the need for a second tunnel south of Guildford Station, there is the question of the junction with the main line, and the junction with the Redhill line is set to become busier as there are plans to double the number of trains from Reading to Gatwick Airport.

    A single track railway tends to be unreliable unless frequencies are very low.

  2. Frank Phillipson Reply

    October 2, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    I don’t think that David Wragg is correct in his assertions. I believe that when built, the Horsham and Guildford Direct Railway, although laid as single track, was in fact built to be able to take double track. I am not aware of any incursions by development on the track bed that would preclude the restoration of the railway.

    If he is talking about the Cranleigh station site which has been built on, a new station doesn’t have to be on the same site as the original station.

    Also, there would be no need for a second tunnel south of Guildford station. There are parts of Network Rail where 24 trains per hour are planned. The line would have a junction only with the Portsmouth line and as I have said above this would not be a problem as regards capacity. Even if the number of trains on the Reading – Redhill were increased I still doubt that there would be a problem.

    Single track lines are not necessarily unreliable. This line would be relatively short in length with, perhaps at the most, a half hourly service.

  3. David Wragg Reply

    October 3, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Much really depends on the number, location and length of passing loops if the line is rebuilt as single track. Finding a new site for the station at Cranleigh could be a problem. I realise that the only junction will be with the Portsmouth Direct, but trains off the Horsham line will still have to cross the Redhill line junction.

    • Paul Robinson Reply

      October 3, 2018 at 9:02 pm

      This isn’t rocket science. You have the passing loops at the stations just like they did before.

      As for the Redhill line junction, back when the Horsham line was operational the Redhill line had a lot of freight traffic and the two lines coped with passing over the junction. All that freight traffic has regrettably gone now – it’s all on the M25 – so any increase in the number of passenger trains on the Redhill line will be no different to the freight traffic of old with regard to the junction.

  4. Jim Allen Reply

    October 3, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    24 years ago a survey of the need to open this line was claimed to have occurred. But they never asked the people of Cranleigh of which, at the time, all those years ago, I was one. Only after the announcement of the results did we residents know it had occurred. If “model shift” is demanded of us then it must be reopened, no ifs no buts.

  5. Michael Ney Reply

    October 6, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    An alternative would be to use light rail – a tramway – similar to the Wimbledon to Croydon tram. It is “standard gauge” and comes into Wimbledon station then travels on dedicated tracks and roadways through Croydon and on to Addington. This would mean rebuilt bridges could be lighter and level crossings at, for instance at Bramley, could be light-controlled rather than gated. A spur line could also run to Dunsfold airfield to service the new development there.

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