Thornbury branch line

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Route map (Click to expand) Thornbury branch line.png
Route map (Click to expand)
Thornbury
Branch Line
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Thornbury
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Grovesend Tunnel
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Tytherington Quarry
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Tytherington Tunnel
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Tytherington
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Iron Acton
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Frampton Cotterell
freight line
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Yate
The branch departs from the main line at Yate. Yate railway station MMB 10.jpg
The branch departs from the main line at Yate.
The branch near Iron Acton Single-track railway west of Nibley Lane near Iron Acton (geograph 5726678).jpg
The branch near Iron Acton

The Thornbury branch line is a railway line from Yate to Thornbury in the West of England. From 1963 until mid 2013, it remained as a freight route, serving the quarry at Tytherington. It was designated 'Out of Use (temporary)' by Network Rail from 2013 until 2017, when it reopened to serve Tytherington quarry again. [1] The 7.5-mile (12 km) branch of the Midland Railway line between Bristol and Gloucester opened on 2 September 1872, and started at Yate and finished at Thornbury, with stops at Iron Acton and Tytherington.

Contents

Train services

The line's services first consisted of two trains in each direction per day, connecting at Yate with mainline trains. Later trains appeared to be running from Thornbury down to Bristol Temple Meads, although the services were infrequent. By 1910, there were four trains in each direction every weekday. In 1944 the passenger train was run by a class 1P 0-4-4 tank with three coaches, which spent the night at Thornbury. The journey took 19 to 22 minutes. During World War 2 12-coach trains took wounded to hospital at Thornbury. [2]

Route

The first 12 mile (0.80 km) was level. 1.5 miles (2.4 km) fell at 1 in 176 to Iron Acton. The climb to Tytherington was at 1 in 86, followed by 1 in 59 to Tytherington Tunnel and a siding to a quarry. The 224 yards (205 m) long tunnel was lined only at the ends and a fall of rock blocked the line for a week in 1956. Beyond the tunnel, railway ballast was supplied by Grovesend Quarry. From the 167 yards (153 m) Grovesend Tunnel the line fell at 1 in 50 through a limestone cutting to Thornbury. [2]

Partial closure

The 1 mile 7 chains (1.8 km) branch to iron-stone mines at Frampton Cotterell was authorised by an Act of 1865, but the mines failed, and Midland's Way & Works Committee agreed to lift the line at its 15 April 1878 meeting, though it wasn't done until 1892. [2]

On 19 June 1944, the line was closed to passenger traffic. In the 1960s, the stations were demolished, apart from Yate, which was closed with other stations on the Bristol to Gloucester line in 1965 and then re-opened in 1989. The section of track from Tytherington Quarry to Thornbury was dismantled after the closure of the goods depot at Thornbury in 1966.

Continuing goods traffic and mothballing

The rest of the line remained open to goods traffic, serving the Tytherington Quarry with very occasional freight services. Following the cessation of these services and with no near term resumption of traffic expected, the line was designated 'Out of Use (temporary)' beyond milepost 0 mi 30 ch in mid 2013. [1]

The line returned to use in June 2017 following the reopening of the quarry by operators Hanson. An initial test run operated on 4 June 2017, with occasional loaded trains running from the quarry thereafter.

Future potential reopening

Studies into reopening the branch line have been made in a consultation report produced by Halcrow Group in 2014, [3] as well as the November 2015 joint transport study report produced by The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. [4] In 2013 the estimated cost of this would be £38 million. [5]

Suggestion was made as part of the West of England Combined Authority (Weca) Joint Local Transport Plan to reopen the line along with others in the MetroWest project. However, in 2017 Weca found there would be several challenges in delivering this proposal, [6] as the former rail alignment into Thornbury is now occupied by an industrial estate and there is no practical routing into the town. The station would therefore have to be located on the edge of Thornbury at a significant distance from the town centre, making it less attractive to passengers. The Grovesend tunnel would also need to be reopened, with its current condition unknown, and there would be capacity constraints at Westerleigh Junction. This led to the authority deciding not to pursue reopening the line. FOSBR continue to advocate reopening the line in the future. [7]

In 2020, the line was mentioned by Railway Gazette International as having potential for future funding from the Department for Transport's "Restoring Your Railway" initiative. [8]

Related Research Articles

Thornbury, Gloucestershire Market town in Gloucestershire, England

Thornbury is a market town and civil parish in the South Gloucestershire unitary authority area of England, about 12 miles north of Bristol. It had a population of 12,063 at the 2011 Census. This was put at 12,459 in 2019. Thornbury is a Britain in Bloom award-winning town, with its own competition: Thornbury in Bloom. The earliest documentary evidence of a village at "Thornbyrig" dates from the end of the 9th century. Domesday Book noted a manor of "Turneberie" belonging to William the Conqueror's consort, Matilda of Flanders, with 104 residents.

Tytherington, Gloucestershire

Tytherington is a village in South Gloucestershire, England, situated 2 miles (3.2 km) south east of Thornbury. The parish population taken at the 2011 census was 666.

Severn Beach line

The Severn Beach line is a local railway line in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, England. It runs from Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach, and used to extend to Pilning. The first sections of the line were opened in 1863 as part of the Bristol Port Railway and Pier, the section through Bristol was opened in 1875 as the Clifton Extension Railway. The line has faced several threats of closure over the years, and has been reduced to single track in many places. In recent years however it has experienced a surge in passenger numbers, with a 90% increase in the years 2007–11. All services along the line are operated by Great Western Railway, generally two trains per hour in each direction between Temple Meads and Avonmouth, calling at all stations, with one train per hour extended to Severn Beach. The line carries little freight traffic, with most of the heavy freight traffic to Avonmouth Docks being routed via the Henbury Loop Line through Filton. The line has been highlighted by Thomas Cook as one of the scenic lines of Europe.

Charfield railway station

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South Wales Main Line Railway from Bristol to Swansea

The South Wales Main Line, originally known as the London, Bristol and South Wales Direct Railway or simply as the Bristol and South Wales Direct Railway, is a branch of the Great Western Main Line in Great Britain. It diverges from the core London-Bristol line at Royal Wootton Bassett beyond Swindon, first calling at Bristol Parkway, after which the line continues through the Severn Tunnel into South Wales.

The Bristol and Gloucester Railway was a railway company opened in 1844 to run services between Bristol and Gloucester. It was built on the 7 ftBrunel gauge, but it was acquired in 1845 by the 4 ft 8+12 instandard gauge Midland Railway, which also acquired the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway at the same time.

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Portishead Railway

The Portishead Railway is a branch line railway running from Portishead in North Somerset to the main line immediately west of Bristol, England. It was constructed by the Bristol & Portishead Pier and Railway Company, but it was always operated by its main line neighbour, and was more usually thought of as the Portishead branch or the Portishead railway.

Yate railway station Railway station near Bristol, England

Yate railway station serves the town of Yate in South Gloucestershire, in south west England. The station is located on the main Bristol to Birmingham line between Bristol Parkway and Cam & Dursley, and is operated by Great Western Railway.

Parson Street railway station Railway station in Bristol, England

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The majority of public transport users in the Bristol Urban Area are transported by bus, although rail has experienced growth and does play an important part, particularly in peak hours. There were plans for a light rail system, however this has now been dropped although it remains in the long-term local transport plan.

Henbury Loop Line

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Iron Acton railway station

Iron Acton station opened on 2 September 1872, with the start of services on the Midland Railway branch from Yate to Thornbury. The station was designed by the Midland Railway company architect John Holloway Sanders.

Thornbury railway station served the town of Thornbury in Gloucestershire. The station was the terminus of a short 7.5-mile (12 km) branch from Yate on the Midland Railway's line between Bristol and Gloucester.

Tytherington railway station Former station in Gloucestershire, England

Tytherington railway station served the village of Tytherington in South Gloucestershire. The station was on the Yate to Thornbury branch line that was opened by the Midland Railway in 1872. The station was designed by the Midland Railway company architect John Holloway Sanders.

Acton–Northolt line Railway line in West London

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MetroWest (Bristol) Project to improve the rail services in Bristol

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References

  1. 1 2 "Establishment of proposed G1 Short Term Network Change: Tytherington Branch (from 0m 30ch) Designation as "Out of Use (temporary)"" (PDF). Swindon: Network Rail. 10 September 2013. STNC/G1/2013/WEST/565. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Railway Magazine December 1957 pp. 866-868 Colin G. Maggs: The Thornbury Branch
  3. "Final Report West of England Area Rail Studies" (PDF). Halcrow. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  4. "West of England Joint Transport Study Key Principles Report" (PDF). Atkins. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  5. Gardner, Rachel (4 January 2013). "Calls made for Thornbury railway line to re-open". Bristol Post. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  6. "West of England Joint Transport Study - Executive Summary - October 2017" (PDF). West of England Combined Authority. 30 October 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  7. "October 2017 - Issue 95(V2)" (PDF). FOSBR. October 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  8. "Restoring Your Railway Fund could provide a toolkit for town transformation". Railway Gazette International. 23 June 2020. Retrieved 23 June 2020.