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East West rail, Bletchley to oxford line


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So, what would you do instead?

That circle that any answer needs to square is that the width of the formation needs to be kept 'in bounds' on the western side, to avoid taking a chunk out of the village, and that there needs to be clear operational separation between a high-speed route and the Aylesbury Branch. The bin-liner terminal is slap bang on the HS2 route, so that clearly has to move, and intent seems to be to put it on the eastern side, opposite the generating station.

I don't speak for HS2, or EWR, but to me it looks as if they've done a pretty fair job of designing the layout/alignment, and that the question for this thread is: could the terraforming and track shifting be done quicker than is currently planned, so as to get the route through to Aylesbury?

The only way to answer that properly would be to understand the project schedule and critical path in detail. The constraints may be ones that are hard to spot, like the detail of the consents or compulsory purchase process, or the balance of cut and fill spoil.

The HS2 alignment could have been taken north or south of the whole area, so that the Waste Transfer station could stay put, only one bridge needed across the EWR line, with no realignment of the latter. The current HS2 alignment requires several curves to keep to the old GCR route. There was also no need to put the HS2 Maintenance Depot alongside the EWR, with the consequent complications to the rail access. I'm sure if they found some newts in Calvert they would have found a way round them!

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"The HS2 alignment could have been taken north or south of the whole area"

 

It could. But, that would have involved much more new land-take, instead of making good use of a grossly under-used pre-existing corridor, and would have provoked a load more opposition in the process.

 

The maintenance depot siting I don't understand, beyond the thought that they probably wanted a location with access from 'classic' railway. Whether EWR will be used for HS2 construction trains in and out, I don't know, but it would seem a logical step. Presumably they need a construction and maintenance depot somewhere, and this is as good as any, being 'blighted' by railways already.

 

Building a new railway in busy-England was always going to be about making 'least worst' selections.

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I guess the choice of Calvert for the maintenance depot was because with EWR it gets classic rail access from three directions, albeit that one of those will be closed for some time for building HS2.  They need this for construction as they will be bringing in trains of rails, whatever they need for the slab track, OLE structures and other stuff.  After completion it becomes the base for maintenance and renewal so will also be sending out trainloads of used items. 

 

Further south they only have access to the Chiltern line which is obviously busier closer to London and only accessible via London or Princes Risborough while Aylesbury-Calvert is being rebuilt.  Further north they don't cross another railway until Kenilworth - not exactly a quiet part of the network and rather a long way from the optimum position midway along Phase 1. 

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"

The maintenance depot siting I don't understand, beyond the thought that they probably wanted a location with access from 'classic' railway. Whether EWR will be used for HS2 construction trains in and out, I don't know, but it would seem a logical step. Presumably they need a construction and maintenance depot somewhere, and this is as good as any, being 'blighted' by railways already.

 

Building a new railway in busy-England was always going to be about making 'least worst' selections.

The dual use of a site was proposed for the northern stabling depot at Crofton which was alongside the Leeds Doncaster Line on a former coal loading point that still has rail access for stabling. However I think that that has changed with the alterations to the proposed route in that area. IIRC the stabling depot is going to be on former sewerage works land alongside the M1 at Knostrop just south of Leeds.

 

Jamie

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The dual use of a site was proposed for the northern stabling depot at Crofton which was alongside the Leeds Doncaster Line on a former coal loading point that still has rail access for stabling. However I think that that has changed with the alterations to the proposed route in that area. IIRC the stabling depot is going to be on former sewerage works land alongside the M1 at Knostrop just south of Leeds.

 

Jamie

That was the northern depot for rolling stock stabling and maintenance.  Calvert is the infrastructure maintenance depot for Phase 1.  IIRC the current plans for HS2 depots are:

  • Calvert - phase 1 infrastructure and I guess phase 2a as well
  • Washwood Heath - only rolling stock depot for phase 1, and main works for rolling stock in phase 2
  • Just north of Crewe - Phase 2b western leg depot for infrastructure (original plan Basford Hall) and rolling stock (original plan Golborne)
  • Staveley - Phase 2b eastern leg infrastructure depot
  • Knostrop - Phase 2b eastern leg rolling stock depot (original plan Crofton)

Highly likely each of these will also be a construction railhead. 

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I guess the choice of Calvert for the maintenance depot was because with EWR it gets classic rail access from three directions, albeit that one of those will be closed for some time for building HS2.  They need this for construction as they will be bringing in trains of rails, whatever they need for the slab track, OLE structures and other stuff.  After completion it becomes the base for maintenance and renewal so will also be sending out trainloads of used items. 

 

Further south they only have access to the Chiltern line which is obviously busier closer to London and only accessible via London or Princes Risborough while Aylesbury-Calvert is being rebuilt.  Further north they don't cross another railway until Kenilworth - not exactly a quiet part of the network and rather a long way from the optimum position midway along Phase 1. 

With the Bicester - Bletchley section of EWR due to open in 2022, that will open up supply routes from the MML, WCML, plus the Chiltern Line and also Oxford. The link to Aylesbury is planned for completion two later, but still before HS2. It will be interesting to see how quickly things start moving along.

 

A question now for those that know/have driven the route. The following photos are from the Sandhill to Padbury road bridge, which in railway miles is about half a mile west of Verney Junction. It looks as though there was a platform, but there was no need for a station, so why is there a wall alongside that short stretch?

 

post-29514-0-57614000-1524685726_thumb.jpg

 

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post-29514-0-83215400-1524685731_thumb.jpg

 

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Dave

Edited by Davexoc
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Hard to tell with all that vegetation, but I wonder if the bank has slipped and been retained. 

In BR Days (1960s) I seem to recall there was a Permanent 30MPH Speed Restriction around that area (Verney Jcn to Claydon) due to Land Slip / Track sub-base issues. My late Father would have known, but I was just a young Lad at the time!

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In BR Days (1960s) I seem to recall there was a Permanent 30MPH Speed Restriction around that area (Verney Jcn to Claydon) due to Land Slip / Track sub-base issues. My late Father would have known, but I was just a young Lad at the time!

I don't know if the village of Sandhill is a clue to the local geology, but generally it seems to be clay, hence brick works, with sand down towards Leighton Buzzard.

 

post-29514-0-21992800-1524774695_thumb.jpg

 

Anyway, the other side of Verney Junction the line crosses Claydon Brook, above looking west, and below looking east. A bit of subsidence apparent here, but the metal railings haven't disappeared yet!

 

post-29514-0-41717400-1524774692_thumb.jpg

 

post-29514-0-82134400-1524774697_thumb.jpg

 

Then further along still there is this bridge as we approach Winslow. The track around here has been cut/lifted/slewed out of the way, presumably to check out the stabiltiy of the embankment. There was a van and trailer parked up in a temporary compound nearby belonging to a ground surveying company. Going to need some more vegetation clearance here soon.

 

post-29514-0-90386500-1524774689_thumb.jpg

 

Dave

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Those handrails at Claydon Brook look new - may have been installed for the safety of the people doing the surveys?  The parapet is very low. 

They, or similar have been there for about four years now, but then they are only galvenised steel.

 

Furze Lane in Winslow currently has a new housing development which will be alongside the new station. I haven't looked at the prices these are going for, but with the future option of travel into Cambridge ,Oxford, Milton Keynes or two London options, they could be a good buy.

The station should be going somewhere in the undergrowth next to the road bridge in the distance (A413).

Here the left hand rail and chairs has been unbolted from the sleepers and moved across over the right.

 

post-29514-0-74277400-1524863890_thumb.jpg

 

The track bed is also currently a little water logged and requires a bit of vegetation clearing.

 

post-29514-0-82975700-1524863892_thumb.jpg

 

post-29514-0-35732200-1524863895_thumb.jpg

 

Moving to the other end of town there is this bridge over the Little Horwood road, then slightly further along as it heads towards Bletchley it has been cleared of vegetation. A little futher along there is a bridge which looking at the OS map shows a spring at the base of the embankment, something that will need looking at?

 

post-29514-0-43025700-1524863887_thumb.jpg

 

Dave

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Swanbourne station area hasn't changed much recently, possibly because it is a residence. A couple of lengths on rail and fence has been removed to allow road vehicles access to and from the track bed.

 

post-29514-0-45337800-1525118056_thumb.jpg

 

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post-29514-0-36323200-1525118051_thumb.jpg

 

Dave

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Swanbourne station area hasn't changed much recently, possibly because it is a residence. A couple of lengths on rail and fence has been removed to allow road vehicles access to and from the track bed.

 

attachicon.gifSwanbourne station.JPG

 

attachicon.gifSwanbourne looking west.JPG

 

attachicon.gifSwanbourne looking east.JPG

 

Dave

I wonder what will happen to all that old bullhead rail? Shame they can't donate it to Quainton Road so they can have a longer running line.

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Between the two road bridges that cross the line out of Mursley, towards Little Horwood and Whaddon, there is an aqueduct. This had previously been hidden by the trees and the undergrowth, but can now be seen. Not a very big thing, but might have got in the way of the knitting if the line had been electrified as planned.

 

post-29514-0-50144100-1525206985_thumb.jpg

 

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post-29514-0-33506000-1525206990_thumb.jpg

 

post-29514-0-11719700-1525208105_thumb.jpg

 

The trackbed is pretty boggy in places, but reasonably clear at the moment. Most of the track has been lifted between the two bridges, the OS map correct at the Swanbourne end, but shows too much from the Bletchley end, unless it has been nicked....

 

Dave

post-29514-0-50144100-1525206985_thumb.jpg

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post-29514-0-33506000-1525206990_thumb.jpg

post-29514-0-11719700-1525208105_thumb.jpg

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I had a good poke around that section about this time last year, and it has quite a water problem that I would expect the rebuilders to need to sort out. I think the aqueduct has failed, and whatever it is that runs in it, a stream I think, has effectively diverted itself down the trackbed, turned it into a wetland, but it looked to me as if there are also springs in the area that used to be conducted out in a managed way, and no longer are.

 

An expensive stretch!

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Looks horribly reminiscent of the GC, and just as difficult to imagine anything running along it again.

 

Yes, and a great shame that it was allowed to fall to pieces and rot away but that alas was down to the economics of the modern railway.  While it seems like 'not very long ago' I often have to remind myself when looking at these pictures that it is now over 25 years since I last went over the Oxford - Bletchley route on a train.

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The final accessible section from the Whaddon road to Newton Longville, fairly unspectacular, just grass infested track and alot of vegetation ready to encroach on the line again.

 

post-29514-0-59801200-1525293098_thumb.jpg

 

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post-29514-0-85500600-1525293095_thumb.jpg

 

Sun setting in the west, then below Far Bletchley is just beyond the trees left, with Bow Brickhill in the distance to the right. Somewhere between there is the limit of the current Swanbourne Siding as it is known, basically a run round off the Bletchley flyover.

 

post-29514-0-37835600-1525293093_thumb.jpg

 

Dave

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Between the two road bridges that cross the line out of Mursley, towards Little Horwood and Whaddon, there is an aqueduct. This had previously been hidden by the trees and the undergrowth, but can now be seen. Not a very big thing, but might have got in the way of the knitting if the line had been electrified as planned.

 

attachicon.gifAqueduct from Swanbourne.JPG

 

attachicon.gifAqueduct from Whaddon road.JPG

 

attachicon.gifAqueduct.JPG

 

attachicon.gifEast from Station road bridge.JPG

 

The trackbed is pretty boggy in places, but reasonably clear at the moment. Most of the track has been lifted between the two bridges, the OS map correct at the Swanbourne end, but shows too much from the Bletchley end, unless it has been nicked....

 

Dave

Think it will be built today allow easy electricfication later so the bridge may go or be altered

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Here's a few pics of the line in happier times. In Nov/Dec 1988, NSE ran "Shoppers Specials" from Aylesbury to Milton Keynes, via Swanbourne & Bletchley. They used some of Marylebone's class 115 DMU's, which had little else to do at the weekend.

 

DMU Swanbourne 12111988 01

DMU Swanbourne 12111988 02

DMU Swanbourne 12111988 03

DMU Swanbourne 12111988 04

 

I went back to the same spot at Swanbourne 16 years later almost to the day, in Nov 2004. No DMU's running that day, the line had not seen regular traffic for over a decade, but still didn't look too far gone.

 

Swanbourne Nov2004 01

Swanbourne Nov2004 02

Swanbourne Nov2004 03

Edited by rodent279
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Here's a few pics of the line in happier times. In Nov/Dec 1988, NSE ran "Shoppers Specials" from Aylesbury to Milton Keynes, via Swanbourne & Bletchley. They used some of Marylebone's class 115 DMU's, which had little else to do at the weekend.

Before Aylesbury had a depot, I'm pretty sure Bletchley was used for overnight servicing at the north end of the line. There were always Marylebone units on shed.

Those units in 1988 though are 2 car hybrids, as the 115s were on their way out by then, and not BY allocated as they only seemed to get the cast offs, especially when the line ran Bletchley - Bedford St Johns.

 

Dave

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There used to be a regular procession of units to Bletchley pity we couldn't get a trip on them ,when the 115,s were on their way out we started receiving a hotch potch of designs.Most of them were on their last legs and gave a terrible journey experience and you were not sure if Marylebone would be reached!

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