Thornbury branch line

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Branch Line
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Grovesend Tunnel
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Tytherington Quarry
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Tytherington Tunnel
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Iron Acton
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Frampton Cotterell
freight line
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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.

Yate town in Gloucestershire, England

Yate is a commuter town and civil parish in South Gloucestershire, England, at the southwest extremity of the Cotswold Hills, 12 miles (19.3 km) northeast of Bristol city centre and 98 miles due west of London. Yate developed from a village into a sizable town from the 1960s onwards partly as an over-spill or commuter town for the city of Bristol. Although not a new town in the official sense, Yate took on many of the characteristics of one.

The West of England is a loose and locationally unspecific term sometimes given to the area surrounding the city and county of Bristol, England, and also sometimes applied more widely and in other parts of South West England.

Tytherington, Gloucestershire human settlement in United Kingdom

Tytherington is a village in South Gloucestershire, England. The quarry to the west belongs to Hanson plc. The parish population taken at the 2011 census was 666.


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]

Bristol Temple Meads railway station Major railway station for the city of Bristol, England

Bristol Temple Meads is the oldest and largest railway station in Bristol, England. It is an important transport hub for public transport in the city. In addition to the train services there are bus services to many parts of the city and surrounding districts, and a ferry to the city centre. Bristol's other major station, Bristol Parkway, is on the northern outskirts of the conurbation.


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.

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.

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]

Tytherington Quarry is a 0.9 hectare geological Site of Special Scientific Interest near the village of Tytherington, South Gloucestershire, notified in 1989.

The line returned to use in June 2017 following 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]

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Thornbury, Gloucestershire market town in South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, England

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Iron Acton village in the United Kingdom

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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

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.

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  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.