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See the latest news from the Stratford Greenway Group (SGG) about the Honeybourne Link, the proposal to reinstate the Stratford-upon-Avon/Long Marston/Honeybourne railway.

July 2019: New Honeybourne Link Report Published

Stratford District Council has funded another report from Arup to consider the provision of a rail shuttle service between Honeybourne Station and Long Marston Airfield. It also includes a section discussing the possible onward rail link to Stratford-upon-Avon. The two together would constitute the Honeybourne Link.

The cost for the rail shuttle was £37m and in excess of £100m for the reinstatement of the onward line to Stratford-upon-Avon. There was also a high-level assessment of the potential sources of funding of the railway, which identified a major gap between these sources and the expected cost of such a project.

This is worrying enough. Worse still, we do not accept either of these estimates.

We think costs for the complete link would be in excess of £200m, excluding running costs, based on the cost escalations for a similar project described on the Railway Myth/High Cost page. This means that the funding gap identified would be much higher.

Putting aside the dubious costs, this report has nothing to say on benefits, payback, return on investment or the possibility of the line ever running at a profit. Arup also added a disclaimer in which they accept no responsibility for the realisation of any projection, forecast, opinion or estimate.

This report would seem to add little value and be a waste of taxpayer’s money.

October 2018: South Western Relief Road would damage the Greenway

  • Cala Homes propose building a South Western Relief Road (SWRR), crossing the River Avon and harming the Greenway.
  • The Stratford Residents Action Group (SRAG) is objecting to this proposal as “THE WRONG ROAD IN THE WRONG PLACE”. We are supporting them, as this disastrous plan would also seriously affect the Greenway.
  • See details at http://srag.co.uk/save-stratford-upon-avon/ and consider sending an email to stratfordresidentsag@gmail.com to join their mailing list.
  • Please consider joining us as an associate at http://stratfordgreenwaygroup.co.uk/contact-us/#join or send us an email requesting updates at info@stratfordgreenwaygroup.co.uk 
  • If you wish to complain to Stratford District Council a form is available from their web site at http://srag.co.uk/object-the-swrr/  but note the deadline for submission is 31/10/2018.
  • You can also view other comments sent to SDC already at https://apps.stratford.gov.uk/eplanning/AppDetail.aspx?appkey=PAZ5AIPM00F00
  • Some of the main issues that we have commented on already include the following:
    1) The proposed road is far too close to the town. This will create traffic jams along the Evesham Road, which already tails back at peak times west of Bordon Hill.
    2) Traffic entering the SWRR will run south towards the racecourse through the planned 800-house estate, with a 30 mph speed limit and several roundabouts, including HGV traffic. This will become choked with traffic from Evesham Road, the A46, Seven Meadows Road, the town centre and from the south of Stratford.
    3) The road will run near to Ann Hathaway’s cottage, which was not envisaged when the original decision to approve 800 homes was made.
    4) The proposed route will be an eyesore, crossing the flood plain and spreading noise and pollution across the town due to the prevailing westerly winds.
    5) The SWRR will also harm the Greenway, an important leisure amenity and wildlife corridor into the town.
    6) What is needed is a by-pass either to the west of the Bordon Hill, joining up to the A46 west of the roundabout where the A422 meets the A46, keeping it away from the town and avoiding the Greenway further south.
    7) The alternative of a road to the east of the town would seem to be another solution, which joins up with the M40 across the east of the town and would cause less noise and pollution due to the prevailing winds, possibly avoiding the flood plain. Why has this been rejected out of hand?
    8) The proposed route will be a disaster and will quickly become a white elephant requiring an alternative solution as soon as it is built.
    9) The local authorities have a legal obligation to act in the interest of the electorate. To leave it all to Cala Homes who have a clear conflict of interest is a dereliction of the council’s duty

April 2018: Honeybourne Link – the thin end of the wedge

  • Tom Baxter, our Chairman, attended a briefing at Stratford District Council about Long Marston, to hear an update on the rail proposal from Long Marston to Honeybourne (the first part of the Honeybourne Link).
  • Arup gave an estimated cost of £40 million for this work.
  • A road-over-rail bridge would be built crossing Station Road and the rail line would be routed around the existing businesses where possible.
  • The Greenway would be retained, but re-aligned within Long Marston boundaries.
  • Gala Homes contribution to this whole development, originally £17 million, is now uncertain.
  • The number of passengers estimated to travel to Honeybourne from Long Marston was estimated at 100 per day at peak times.
  • It later transpired that these passenger numbers are dependent on the completion on the Long Marston development of 3500 houses, which is not due for some 20 years. Until then passenger numbers are expected to be lower.
  • The possible locomotives to haul the trains range from a Parry People Mover (a lightweight vehicle), to a standard single carriage as seen on West Midlands rail.
  • A Great Western Rail representative was present and that caused the issue of a connection right through to Stratford, to be raised.
  • It appeared that a number of rail companies were biding their time, and money, to strike home.
  • But interestingly some councillors there thought that for certain reasons, such a line would terminate at Stratford Racecourse.
  • Optional proposals are being considered such as a flexible minibus service, or a tram service of some kind.
  • For the moment, everything is up for grabs, as Arup considers how to settle on a proposal.
  • The S.D.C. Cabinet will consider that clearer view on June 4th.
  • In conclusion our group will continue to monitor events behind or in front of the doors.

March 2018: Stratford District Council Back Rail Changes

The following statement appeared in an article called “District council back rail changes”, published online by the Stratford Herald on 26 February, about the new Great Western Rail Franchise:

In its response to the consultation on the franchise tender document, the district council said: “The council would wish to see the Great Western franchise extended to Stratford. The district council has commissioned a study to consider the provision of a rail shuttle service between Long Marston Airfield Garden Village and Honeybourne station, the franchise could usefully include reference to this potential shuttle service.

In the light of the above, the future GWR franchise train service requirement could require bidders to provide costed options for the reinstatement of passenger services initially between Honeybourne and Long Marston Airfield with subsequent extensions to Stratford Racecourse and ultimately Stratford station.”

The second paragraph refers to the Honeybourne Link. This would run along the Stratford Greenway, Seven Meadows Road and Summerton Way. It would wreck this important leisure and environmental facility, cause traffic chaos and spoil the enjoyment of the Greenway for walkers, cyclists, families, dog walkers and horse riders.

It makes you wonder whether the council has changed its stated neutral stance on the reopening of the derelict railway. Has this now moved a step closer? This issue is not going away. Your support is now more important than ever to prevent this happening.

February 2018: A letter from Tom Baxter, Chairman of SGG, published in the Stratford Herald on Thursday, 1 February.

“Shakespeare Line members appear to be unaware of the REAL implications of a rail link from here to Honeybourne. Firstly, the temporary deletion of two key pedestrian crossings over Summerton Way: the removal of many trees; the digging of a deep trench from the station all the way to the Greenway (oops! I forgot, there is a roundabout at Evesham Place), perhaps that can be floated above the rail tunnel?  No problem. The traffic can simply be diverted to another town altogether. And then I understand that Sanctus Road bridge may have to be height modified. No problem. Impacts on local businesses and residents? No problem. Environmental damage? (yawn- words, words, words, just boring words). So let’s get digging into the mire. Cost? Stratford Greenway Group estimate a GRIP 4 check-over at £400,000, and the Honeybourne Link itself, £228 million, based on current costings. But of course, money is of no consequence when the mind narrows to a pinpoint.”

December 2017:  MP Unconvinced by the Proposed Honeybourne Link

In an email to SGG, Stratford-upon-Avon MP, Nadhim Zahawi, stated, “My position on the reopening of the Honeybourne railway has not changed. I would have to see evidence of widespread support, including that of the people of Stratford-upon-Avon and those living on The Greenway, before I would support the reopening and that the project is financially viable.”