Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Spa Valley progress

(Groombridge in BR days 4.7.1977)

The Spa Valley is now making the push back to Eridge to link back to the network. It will involve laying a second line alongside the network route to allow the Spa Valley access to Eridge station.

There were some daft things about the original closure. The line remained open until 1985 and was the last real railway closure in the UK. The excuse was the cost of replacing pointwork at the junction with the Hastings line in Tunbridge Wells on electrification. For about six months after closure empty trains continued to run into Tunbridge Wells West as the depot was there. Houses were built right up to the trackbed at Groombridge - amazing as there was already at that time a preservation group. There is now a kink in the line and there's a new halt built for the trains.

June's Steam Railway carries a piece on the line, with the extraordinary conclusion that '[t]here is sadly very little prospect of reinstating the eastward link via Grove Junction to Tunbridge Wells [Central] because West station has been converted into a restaurant. The trackbed has also been breached by a Sainsbury's supermarket and its car park'.

Er ... why not just BUY the restaurant and, eventually, the supermarket and reinstate the link? It is actually essential as without it real trains will be running the wrong way! And real trains will grace this line again in the not too distant future, particularly when the Uckfield-Lewes and Groombridge-Three Bridges lines are restored.

Get some lead in your pencil Steam Railway and stop talking railways down!
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Anonymous said...

To reopen the Tunbridge Wells West-Tunbridge Wells Central section would involve-
Rebuilding and resiting the access road to Sainsburys car park.
Buying back the old station and converting it back to a station.
Demolishing part of Sainsburys Supermarket. Demolishing their lorry unloading bay.
Buying back the trackbed some of which has been sold to local rich residents. Reinstating one missing bridge.
Reconnecting and signalling track at Grove Jn. Negotiating with Network Rail for access over third rail electrified lines into Central station. Finally trying to path trains into an already congested Central station which at peak hours is at capacity.
The cost - multi-million pounds.
Negotiating with Network Rail .
Suggest you examine it...!

Anonymous said...

Following on from my previous comment.For readers who have not visited Tunbridge Wells West the chances of opening the line to TW. Central are as slim as the S & D. re-opening Bath Green Park station.
Because both require acquiring most of Sainsburys supermarkets, demolishing vast areas of car parks and access roads before considering relaying track , etc.

Sunshiner said...


The S&D has every intention of reopening into Bath Green Park in the future! How else will they make their presence felt in Bath? I've even earmarked what office I want in BGP.

We're not talking about how things are today, but how they will be in the future when road traffic is finished and we're all living simpler, less hectic lives. We'll still need transport and rail will be the only way of getting around quickly.

Do you seriously believe that any government will put the needs of a private company before public transport in a world suffering from acute climate change and a massive energy shortage? Will supermarkets even exist in 20 years time? I doubt it.

Even if they do the balance of power will have shifted totally towards sustainable transport, and the railway companies will easily have the resources to buy out dying industries like supermarkets. The S&D already has a fund to buy the land currently occupied by Sainsbury's in Bath and when the time comes we'll either use compulsory purchase or make them an offer they can't refuse.

This site isn't talking about the past, doesn't dwell on the past weaknesses of the railways and will concentrate always on practical ways of restoring our transport system once the oil runs out.

Tiny details like current occupation of our routes are irrelevant!

The only real issue you raise is (tellingly) capacity problems, but this will require many new lines, doubling and quadrupling of current routes and building whole new parallel routes between major population centres.

Anonymous said...

Further to my previous correspondance. When the S & D. Railway Trust is operating trains over a rebuilt Silver Street bridge, reopened the line to Radstock then I will accept reopening to Bath Green Park is then a possibility until then ---NO CHANCE..!!!.
Regarding reopening Groombridge-Three Bridges the main obstacles: Forest Row- Fire station and Community Centre built on site of station . East Grinstead by-pass "Beechings Way" built along about one mile of the trackbed. Grange Road- housing estate built across the trackbed at the site of station ,Rowfant-the M23 motorway cuts across track and at Three Bridges the Panel Signal Box is built on the old junction.
I agree Uckfield-Lewes is looking hot favourite to be reopened because the political support is growing.

Anonymous said...

I think folks are talking more about re-opening Eridge to Heathfield and Eridge to Forest Row. There is a website mentioned on Wiki http://wealdenrailway.limewebs.com . Seems to be set up by locals.

I agree with Sunshiner. Lets not dwell on past failings, but concentrate in future successes. If you had said ten years ago that a narrow guage railway would be able to cross a 60mph national rail line on a flat crossing, people would've dismissed you as a herretic; but look at the Welsh Highland which has done just that.

That teaches you, never say never.