Kemble station before 1905. The Cirencester branch is on the right
Ambitious plans to re-open a railway line in Gloucestershire are moving forward, and the team behind the proposals say the multi-million pound project will go ahead. The Cirencester Community Railway Project has been set up in a bid to restore the railway line between Kemble and Cirencester - closed by Dr Beeching in the 1960s.
The market town’s railway station was replaced with a car park and what is now Waitrose.
But the group intend to re-open it with what is known as Very Light Railway on a single 8km track between the two towns. A new bridge would have to built and the trains would use the latest in technology reducing the project’s carbon footprint and using the latest in covid-safe techniques.
In all, it is expected to cost £52million but could mean millions more is brought to the local economy by linking Cirencester to Kemble and then to London.
A spokesman from the group said: “Unless something very strange happens this is going ahead. This will happen. It’s very exciting for the team.”
Very Light Railway is cheaper to install and maintain than mainstream rail and allows the use of electric cars running on train tracks, which are capable of charging in minutes. Each car has 20 seats but can carry up to 75 passengers. Air conditioning from above would force airborne particles down meaning there is less risk of infection from travelling onboard. Two vehicles would run in opposite directions and cross at the station where the line passes near the Royal Agricultural University with services running every 20 minutes. A new bridge over the A429 would need to be built and the line would pass through the Bathurst Estate.
A feasibility study was due to take place last year to see if there were any major reasons which would prevent this from going ahead but the pandemic meant they weren’t able to get that off the ground. But figures modelled by the University of Southampton showed that passenger numbers would grow as more people move to the area around Cirencester and need to get to their head offices in London.
The spokesman said: “Suddenly that’s a whole lot more people using our service.”
The group have been given further confidence about the project after they got funding from the Department for Transport to make furtther investigations into the project.
A spokesman from the group said: “The Department for Transport have looked through the proposal, they've analysed carefully and they're not renowned for giving money away unnecessarily and they've decided that this is one is worthwhile . and that’s a great asset when we come to talk to other people about [further] funding. And just giving momentum to the project."
Currently the proposed route would go from Kemble before branching off to pass the Royal Agricultual University and would also serve Cirencester College, Deer Park School and the Chesterton Development before terminating near Cirencester town centre.
A spokesman from the group said “We’re one of the few university towns that doesn’t have a railway station and that a club you don’t want to be a member of.”