Ashchurch and Tewkesbury District Rail Promotion Group

More trains for Tewkesbury,

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Posted by ATDRPG Support Ashchurch station on February 28, 2017 at 5:20 AM




Welcome to the first edition of 2017 of ATDRPG Matters. Our next Open Meeting will be held on Friday 3rd March, 7pm for 7.30pm in the Elmbury Room at Tewkesbury Library GL20 5NX. Our Guest speakers for the evening will be Christian Wolmar, Broadcaster, Journalist, Author AND Nigel Harris, Editor of Rail Magazine. Non-members welcome.

Complimentary light refreshments to be served beforehand.



The last three months have been ones of progress and activity, with your committee remaining busy behind the scenes, continuing contacts with individuals/groups within the railway industry and other stakeholders. Some of the more important events were to date:

11 December – a new Sunday morning service began at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury station, 10.30 northbound to Worcester and 11.53 southbound for Bristol. Despite virtually no publicity, 10 people used the northbound service on the first day and 33 boarded the first southbound run!

11 January – Ken and John attended the latest WRUGA (Worcestershire Rail Users Group Association) meeting at Worcester County Hall, where we were given a presentation of forthcoming rail progress in the county and the hopes for future developments, including an hourly service south through Ashchurch.

17 January – John attended an RCTS presentation in Cheltenham by a senior sponsor of electrification for Network Rail. Whilst the predominating area covered was around Bristol, the presentation was notable for its depictions of the problems facing the railway in providing electrification to the GWR routes, it did however briefly mention wires between Bristol and Birmingham, albeit some years ahead.

4 February – our latest Footfall count was on a Saturday and figures continue to show ongoing support for services.

7 February – your group hosted its 5th Round Table meeting, attended by 20 important individuals from within the rail industry and local stakeholders. The three main threads of discussion were: a new service pattern of hourly throughout the day and half-hourly at peak times; the group’s proposal for changes at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, potentially giving a third platform and greater flexibility on the route; and a desire for a non-cash ticket machine. There was general support for all to which we aspire and there was a momentum for the setting up of a group of relevant people to take matters forward. Your committee will be pushing this onward over the coming months.

Up & Coming-GWR are due, in the next week to install a bench on each platform. One of our long-held aspirations.

Sophie Taft (GWR) to visit the station and to view the garden and hear our proposals for extension, plus to discuss how the group sees the way forward. We will also seek potential GWR support for our 20th Anniversary celebrations.




There was much interesting discussion at the recent ATDRPG Round Table meeting about the need for loops at strategic locations (including Ashchurch) for fast express services to overtake slower ‘all stations’ and freight trains. With maximum train speeds varying between 75 and 125 mph, most of our passenger trains are capable of 90mph upwards and fuel economy considerations limit even high speed expresses to sub 100 mph speeds on most of the network, so it is the varied pattern of station stops rather than the maximum potential speed which looks like the major factor in limiting the potential of a pair of railway tracks to achieve a 5 or 10 minute headway between trains travelling in the same direction. For the present timetable through Ashchurch to work, we only need to provide space for 4 passenger trains (2 Bristol-Birmingham, I Cardiff-Nottingham Cross Country services and 1 Bristol -Worcester GWR) plus at most 2 slots for freight trains, empty stock or light engine transfers – so on average we could have 6 services, 10 minutes apart each hour in each direction. Cont’

Compare this with the track between Northfield and Birmingham (admittedly part of it 4 track and with a choice of routes into New Street at Kings Norton) which already copes with at least 10 passenger trains per hour (6 cross city electrics, our 3 Cross Country and a hourly Hereford, Worcester, Bromsgrove to New Street service) plus freight movements, or the London Underground system with trains regularly running 3 minutes apart (i.e. 20 per hour). Of course the Underground has the advantage that all trains travel at the same speed and stop at all stations all the time, but Ashchurchs’ 4 passenger trains per hour ought to be well within the capacity of the existing infrastructure as long as all rains run according to the agreed timetable. Instead of spending money on accommodating the failure of trains to keep to their timetables, the Japanese/Swiss/Chiltern Trains solution would be to spend money on infrastructure which guarantees right time running so that trains are presented at stations and intermediate junctions such as Abbotswood at the right time without fail.

I am not even sure that different calling patterns between Cheltenham and Birmingham are the problem. Non-stop trains on this route are scheduled to take 43/44 minutes southbound and 45/46 minutes northbound (presumably the Lickey incline explains the difference). Cardiff-Nottingham with up to 3 additional stops at Ashchurch, Bromsgrove and University average 43.7 minutes southbound and 45.5 northbound between Cheltenham and Birmingham, so as long as services start at least 5 minutes apart they ought to be able to keep out of each others’ way if they keep to the timetable. New trains and infrastructure may be sexy and headline-grabbing, but doing the simple things right every time with the existing tools is often the best solution. DEREK POTTER FEBRUARY 2017



Back in November I made a visit to Dorchester to see an exhibition of old railway posters. I travelled on the 07.05 from Ashchurch for Tewkesbury direct to Dorchester West station. Unfortunately, although the train is straight through, the type of rolling stock used (a Class 150 3 x 2 seat layout) is designed for shorter local journeys, and so by the time I reached Dorchester I was a little aching to say the least! Also, although the train is part of the service linking Bristol to the Dorset resort of Weymouth, no catering trolley is provided for any part of the journey. (Luckily I knew this in advance and so travelled well prepared with a flask of coffee and biscuits!).

I had arranged to meet up with a good friend and colleague with him joining the train at Bristol Parkway (having travelled from Swansea). In spite of the train consisting of four cars, which is its regular formation, on leaving Bristol Parkway it was full to overflowing, with standing passengers everywhere, and so it was only upon arrival at Bristol Temple Meads that my friend could locate me. Another interesting fact about this train is that although it consists of four cars from Worcester, two cars are detached en route to Weymouth at Westbury, a fact not indicated in the timetables. However, this is understandable as, since the train changes direction twice (once at Gloucester and again at Bristol Temple Meads), stating that “the rear two cars will be detached at Westbury” could lead to even more confusion, as the Gloucester to Bristol section of the journey the cars to be detached are actually on the FRONT of the train!

Arrival at Dorchester West station a pleasant surprise awaited us. Dorchester West is Dorchester’s secondary station, in spite of opening some years earlier than Dorchester South station. At my last visit the station was very dilapidated and run down. It has been well restored, and the buildings let as commercial units. Yet, in spite of Dorchester being Dorset’s County Town, the station is unstaffed and there is no ticket machine, leaving the conductor to issue a wide range of complex tickets on board the train. Worse still, on calling at Dorchester South station, which has a half-hourly electric train service to and from London Waterloo, we discovered that the ticket office there was closed during the afternoons as well. It does seem that train companies assume everyone buys tickets in advance and online, which effectively has no overhead costs to the company concerned!

On the return journey there were over 40 people waiting to catch the train towards Bristol. How a conductor is expected to check and issue tickets in the time available escapes me! Yet London and South East areas stations in the main are staffed from early morning until late evening with hardly anyone using the trains other than at peak times.

The exhibition of posters was fascinating and showed the effort put in, particularly during the 1930’s and 1950’s, by the old companies and by British Rail, to encourage people to travel and visit destinations. In particular the Great Western Railway, and the London and North Eastern Railway were very prolific in producing colourful posters promoting “Skegness is so bracing”, or using artistic licence to show how alike Cornwall and Italy were! Posters were produced promoting many inland locations as well, particularly places like Cathedral Cities.

Does anyone know if any were ever produced by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway or its predecessors, or even by BR to promote Tewkesbury? If not, maybe now is the time to persuade the modern Great Western to do so.


*Produced and Published in good faith by ATDRPG, as always please check all details before you travel. Contact details; web -; e-mail - [email protected]; facebook Tewkesbury Ashchurch Rail atdrpg. Thank you for reading, please consider the environment and redistribute. Rail related articles, letters etc. suitable for future issues welcome. Editors’ decision is final.


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