Here we examine
the question which you all want the answer to: why bother to
re-instate the railway? The Wye Valley looks fine as it is.
Yes, ok, but....
The Wye Valley
is not fine as it is. For one thing, the easiest way to
Tintern from the South is via Chepstow. The road comes past Chepstow
racecourse. This is a very major attraction, and on race days
and market days it is advisable to bring an evening meal if you
wish to return along the A466 after 5 o' clock. You'll have plenty
of time to eat it while you queue for the traffic jam at the
race course, then at the roadworks, then at the roundabout outside
Chepstow, and finally as you stagger onto the M48 and prepare
to drive along the former M4 to join the newer, equally crowded
version so you can get out of the area and return home. Sustrans,
the cycleway charity, want to solve this problem by building
a cycleway up the WVR from Tidenham to Tintern, which will not
be of much use to walkers and idle tourists.
To show what
use we think it'll be, we are now going to scroll happily through
various points of interest under some neat and tidy headings,
with a scoring system for totting up at the end. So that the
cycleway doesn't come off too badly, we will compare it and the
railway to car users of the current road. The winner of each
point gets two points, the middle option one point and the loser
gets no points.
Road: It's a road. It's
there and it's convenient. People drive, cycle and occasionally
walk on it. There's a bus service. Where have you been for the
Rail: The railway will
provide safe, efficient and frequent transport over a 15-mile
stretch of the valley, allowing those without a car to start
bike, foot or canoe based trips at Monmouth.
Cycleway: The cycleway will
offer sustainable environmentally friendly transport for all
between Chepstow and Tintern.
On the downside
for each, it should be noted that:
- the railway
is inflexible and expensive,
- the road is
loud, polluting and dangerous,
- the cycleway
will be costly and, while it will make Tintern more accessible
to cyclists, it won't make trips to Llandogo, Redbrook or
Monmouth any easier than they are already.
The road is
already there so is free, the railway and its trains will cost
about £40million based on our current estimate (or about
£2.6million per mile) and the cycleway hasn't put out a
complete figure yet (although we do have a figure of Tintern
village to Brockweir costing £750,000, which, since it
will be one of the most expensive miles involved, sounds like
an underestimate). Most of the costs for the railway and the
cycleway - new drainage, rock bolting and repairing rail-associated
structures - will be pretty much the same.
points (total 2 out of 2). Rail: 1 point (total 1 out of 2).
Cycleway: 0 points (total 0 out of 2).
Point 1 has
to be balanced against a decent car costing the user a further
£10,000, a decent bike costing about £300 (plus another
£100 on locks, lights and a helmet) and trains not costing
the user anything. However, the car is £10,000 for up to
8 people and the bike is £400 per head. While this doesn't
affect the overall scores, it is worth bearing in mind.
(2/4). Rail: 2 (3/4). Cycleway: 1 (1/4).
car costs something along the lines of £2,500 per year
to run - £1,000 for insurance, £300 for road tax,
£200 for the MoT and £2,000 for the 50% per year
depreciation (if your car is new it'll be much more than £2,000
per year; if it's 10 years old it's worthless and can't depreciate
any more; if it's 40 years old it's vintage and you keep it in
the garage for special occasions). Meanwhile your average bike
costs about £100 per year to look after through general
wear and tear - perhaps more if you insist on replacing your
locks, lights and helmet - and the maintenance costs of the track
and train are included in the fares. Once again, the car costs
are constant and the bike costs go up for each additional user.
(2/6). Rail: 2(5/6). Cycleway: 1 (2/6).
cost your car somewhere between £10 and £15 per week
unless you never use it. A train from Monmouth to Chepstow will
cost about £3.50 return (£21 for one person over
6 days) and the bike - unless it breaks and you have to find
a bus - is completely free. However, that £15 is constant
for up to 8 people; 8 people on the train for a week will cost
£168. We will point out that the average loading of the
average car is just under 2 people and squeeze the train into
second place on that. (It is a case of what you gain on the swings
you lose on the roundabouts, however, since the train fare includes
all those big maintenance costs which the other two forms of
transport were walloped for in Point 3).
(2/8). Rail: 0 (5/8). Cycleway: 2 (4/8).
of encountering a traffic jam and congestion caused
In 1985 British
Rail asked the nation if you have ever seen the following
- A train jam
- A train with
- A train being
stopped for speeding
- A train stopping
so the driver could do some work
The full advert
can be found here or here by the way.
that trains don't end up queuing for hours in the same way as
cars would be unfair, so we will substitute overcrowding for
traffic jams. Happily this is a rural branchline, so there will
be hardly any passengers and therefore very little overcrowding.
It should also be noted that, except when it gets really chronic,
overcrowding does not prevent trains from reaching their destination
on time. Cyclists crow at length about not getting stuck in jams
and certainly, except when you encounter red lights or a traffic
jam on a narrow road this is quite true. It is even more true
if you are on a traffic-free railway line with no traffic lights
which has been lifted specially for you. Meanwhile, we all know
that the idea of traffic jams was only invented for the benefit
of car drivers.
(3/10). Rail: 1 (6/10). Cycleway: 2 (6/10).
of encountering vandalism or theft
This is an
opportunity for the car to score, since it is not a matter of
routine for people's cars to be vandalised beyond immediate repair
or stolen while they are at work. Trains encounter occasional
problems with signalling cable mysteriously vanishing but since
we want to use radio-based signalling there won't be any cable
to remove. The Great Train Robbery of 1963 was the last time
of any note that a train was stolen and that time, having found
that they didn't know how to drive it, the thieves abandoned
the train a mile down the line anyway. Meanwhile the Founder,
having had experience in this field, has pointed out that he
has had rude things said to him more often while cycling than
while engaging in rail travel and that, having once had his bike
stolen (from outside Cardiff Crown Court, just down the road
from Cardiff Central Police Station and from within range of
a CCTV camera) he expects us to regard this problem as endemic.
Rail: 1 (7/12). Cycleway: 0 (6/12).
of commuting to South Welsh cities
The car offers
a direct door-to-door journey with certain issues relating to
traffic jams but otherwise a fairly lazy route. The train offers
a fairly direct service station-to-station which has to be augmented
by a walk, cycle, car ride or bus journey at each end (although
at the City end a journey from Cardiff Central or Newport to
a more out-of-town location is in the opposite direction to where
the crowds are going so buses should be quite quiet). The bike
doesn't offer the link.
(7/14). Rail: 1 (8/14). Cycleway: 0 (6/14)
of commuting to South Welsh cities
The car journey
is being increased by additional speed limits upon the way and
so once traffic jams are added in the average journey from Monmouth
to Cardiff will take about ¾ of an hour. The rail journey
is currently expected to take a little over 1¼ hours with
up to 22 intermediate stops. The journey on a bike would take
the better part of a day.
(9/16). Rail: 1 (9/16). Cycleway: 0 (6/16).
of commuting to South Welsh cities
While in the
car you can put on the radio you are unfortunately stuck with
sitting down for 45 minutes and concentrating on where you're
going - often in heavy traffic and with one of the worst bits
of the intercity motorway network to contend with. The train
allows headphones and on an electric train you'll be able to
hear what you're playing on fairly minimal volume. Meanwhile
you have the freedom to eat meals, do work, use the toilet, sleep,
have an alcoholic beverage, play games or admire the scenery
whilst on the move. The journey on a bike involves a lengthy
and sweaty trip on an uncomfortable saddle.
(10/18). Rail: 2 (11/18). Cycleway: 0 (6/18).
of commuting to South Welsh cities
This area is
intended to measure whether you can, at a moment's notice, decide
to engage in your commute. The car allows you to do so but you
do have to walk to the car first (which may be a little distance
in the cities) and of course there is the issue of what happens
if someone has borrowed the car to go shopping. Since people
tend not to share bikes and they can be arranged to be parked
very conveniently for your place of work so neither of these
is an issue. The train requires you to walk to the station and
wait for the next train.
(11/20). Rail: 0 (11/20). Cycleway: 2 (8/20).
This area is
going to be taken in a wide-ranging manner looking at the impact
of the actual journey, the construction of the vehicle and the
provision of fuel.The car is driven off Middle-Eastern petroleum
brought over here in a large oil tanker and refined by setting
fire to some of it. We would like our electric train to be powered
by burning waste but even if that proves to be possible its energy
supplies will probably have to be topped up by burning coal brought
down from Merthyr Tydfil by a large diesel locomotive whose fuel
has come from the same source as the car. The cyclist is powered
by food and consequently has to eat more than other humans who
burn less energy while going to sleep on the train or behind
the wheel. This fuel is largely delivered by big lorries (powered
by Middle-Eastern petroleum) and some of it may have been flown
in from overseas (on planes powered by Middle-Eastern petroleum).
The car is
manufactured at considerable expense in a big factory, runs for
about 8 years and is then disposed of; much of it can be recycled
but the interior has to be landfilled. The train is manufactured
at greater expense in a big factory, runs for 20 years, undergoes
a major overhaul, runs for another 20 years, undergoes life extension
and then runs for another 20 years before an economic collapse
forces it to be patched up, refurbished and run for another 20
years before it is finally allowed to retire to the Great Traction
Maintenance Depot in the Sky (or, alternatively, sold to Eastern
Europe and run for another 30 years). Electric trains are noted
for their long life expectancies (although perhaps 110 years
is an exaggeration). Meanwhile every single cyclist will need
at least one bike which will do about 8-10 years before replacement.
Bearing in mind that these bikes will, taken together, be considerably
larger than the train, it is entirely possible that the train
will require less energy to build and dispose of it - although
there are all those refurbishments to take into account.
a lot of noise and - at night at least - a lot of light. Trains
produce fairly minimal noise (just enough to warn of their presence,
if that); the headlights are brighter than those on a car but
the impact is reduced by there only being one set of headlights
going in a given direction per hour, rather than 60 or so. Cyclists
produce very little noise, except when calling to each other,
and their headlights are not exceptionally bright. How much impact
the headlights have depends on how many cyclists there are at
night. The lack of noise may be an issue for small animals in
the evening. Meanwhile, a cycleway will require Tidenham Tunnel
to be illuminated throughout the day, disturbing the bats; this
will not be the case with a railway.
The road consists
of a 20-foot wide strip of tarmac which offers few opportunities
for natural habitats and the perpetual noise and disturbance
doesn't encourage animals to reside in hedges and verges. The
railway will offer a 15-mile nature reserve alongside its ballasted
trackbed while the cycleway will only offer a 4-mile one; however,
the cycleway won't require rails, sleepers and substations.
made by the car obviously has a notable effect on the environment;
however, a lot of the cyclists' journeys will have this effect
too. Visitors to the valley bringing their bikes for a cycle
will often end up strapping them to the car, ruining the aerodynamics
of the vehicle. They will tend not to come by train - something
which is partly the fault of British Rail, which neglected to
provide their Sprinter units with cycle accommodation (there
evidently weren't any cycling lobbies around in the mid-1980s
to talk someone out of this failing). Most users of the railway
will come to the valley by rail, although those arriving from
Gloucester or at the Monmouth end will be forced to come by car.
Although the main aim of our additional steam trains will be
to attract those parties who currently go to Tintern by coach,
the timetable will be written to make it possible for South Welsh
passengers to come by train with a minimal changing time at Tidenham.
There will therefore be very few car journeys involved in re-opening
journeys the bike-owner will be forced to find alternative transport
or go slowly, as mentioned in Points 7-10. Many cyclists will
find themselves, for whatever reason, using the car. If there
is no railway in the Wye Valley itself this will be more convenient
than trying to find Chepstow station, particularly since when
one is going away for a long period it is preferable to either
take the car with you or leave it in the garage. The environmental
damage of using the car on long-distance journeys is already
considered above. Meanwhile the train will offer access to a
wide-range of convenient long-distance links (including international
ones if it runs through to Rhoose) and thereby discourage use
of the car at all on longer journeys.
It is on this
last basis that the winning score narrowly goes to the railway.
(11/22). Rail: 2 (13/22). Cycleway: 1 (9/22).
of local travel
The car is
often cited as the model of convenience and remains that way
until you are trying to park in a narrow village lane. The bike
is slightly more convenient if you're going to a friend's house,
since you can pull it up in their garden. There are no official
bike-parking places in the Wye Valley at present and the attractive
wooden fences are tricky to run a lock through. The railway is
not entirely convenient for St Briavels, Tintern and Tidenham
and (with the exception of Redbrook and Wyesham) none of the
stations are exactly in the centre of matters. The hourly trains
don't offer much of a turn-up-and-go service either, which prevents
Whitebrook people from popping up to Monmouth to do their shopping
at the drop of a hat.
With none of
the three forms of transport doing exceptionally well we did
ponder giving them each 1 point, but the 2-1-0 structure held
(12/24). Rail: 0 (13/24). Cycleway: 2 (11/24).
of local travel
with short-haul travel is that often a lot of it is spent getting
on and off your preferred form of transport. Once you get going
a couple of stops can really put a dent in your journey times.
How much effect your maximum speed has depends on the length
of your journey; however, this is an inter-village route so we
will assume that in the main the cycleway will offer Tintern-Chepstow
journeys and kindly compare like-with-like.
for suburban travel on the South Welsh section the car and the
bike offer about the same journey time and the train is very
quick. Whether it is convenient and quick is another matter altogether
and depends on whether other operators also stop their trains
at the additional minor South Wales Mainline stations (if built).
Since the odds are that they would, we are largely assuming that
the benefits of providing that service will arise in due course
whether Monmouth gets its rail service back or not and as a consequence
are largely ignoring it for the "local travel" bits.
should be bourne in mind that, while the cycleway gets placed
second here, Tintern to Chepstow with a cycleway will still be
a half-hour (or more) cycle ride; a rail link would cut that
to 10-15 minutes on the train plus a few minutes walking at each
end. While it will be quicker to cycle in some ways, it won't
be much quicker with a cycleway than it is at present.
(14/26). Rail: 0 (13/26). Cycleway: 1 (12/26).
of local travel
of the car naturally depends on the car but since the roads aren't
very nice we will take the view that driving along the Wye Valley
is not very comfortable. The cycleway passes through a nasty
dark and damp tunnel and bike seats are good for getting saddle
sore if your bottom isn't run in properly. Trains offer a chauffeur-driven
environment where you can sit back in your seat and enjoy the
view with a drink.
(15/28). Rail: 2 (15/28). Cycleway: 0 (12/28).
of local travel
The car allows
you to go to anywhere on a road; the cycleway opens up some narrower
lanes as well but requires you to deviate along apparently dangerous
roads if you want to go to somewhere like St Arvans. The train
restricts you to the railway line and whatever schedule the train
happens to operate to.
you go somewhere by car or bike you have to come back to where
you left your car or bike because it won't come and find you
when you've finished. If you're going by rail you can get off
at any station, walk/ cycle/ canoe around, come back to another
station and after a bit a train will come along and pick you
up. Very useful if it starts raining.
like a good time to dish out one point each.
(16/30). Rail: 1 (16/30). Cycleway: 1 (13/30).
The car is
an all-weather beast - up to a point anyway, since driving in
pouring rain, fog or snow is not entirely pleasant; nor is driving
into the sun. The bike is good in times of minimal weather and
quite fun in fog. High winds can be annoying; baking hot sun
is unpleasant and rain is wet and makes your trousers cling to
you horribly. (Cycling in the rain can be invigorating in a way
- or at least so the Founder says, citing an article on h2g2
to back him up - but we take the view that he should have been
sectioned years ago, given the ideas that he comes up with.)
Snow is just a liability, particularly with narrow tyres on a
well-used path. The train requires you to walk to the station,
but hopefully the shelter will be adequate and, of course, once
you're on board you're out of the weather and can enjoy watching
it through the window. If it looks particularly pleasant you
can always get off.
of course has its own weather system which probably consists
of a cold, dark, damp night all year round. Those are not the
sort of conditions that people cycle in as a matter of course.
(17/32). Rail: 2 (18/32). Cycleway: 0 (13/32).
Always a fun
one, safety. Well, Wye Valley Cycle say that the A466 is highly
dangerous. While we have cycled, driven and been driven along
it and have never had any problems it is easy to see that it
could be dangerous and we assume that they have some statistics
which show that this is a genuine assertion. That puts the cycleway
and the railway alongside each other for top place. The Old Railway
was always very safe, with no passengers being killed throughout
the line's career. Two WVR track maintenance staff were killed
over the line's 114-year career; two Tintern-based staff were
killed in the First World War. Modern railways offer an almost
unparalled safety record; the last fatal rail crash on a single-track
branch line was Cowden in 1994, since when train design has been
improved, communications upgraded and better procedures put in
place. Cycleways are also very safe but the risks on the cycleway
are slightly higher due to the mix of traffic and the lack of
controls on the usage of the tunnels. Encouraged users will include
walkers (3mph), cyclists (15mph), mobility scooters (8mph) and
horses (5mph). A collision in the dark would be very interesting
- but since one hasn't happened yet we can only say that it is
probably more likely than an accident on the railway. No doubt
the national rail network will now oblige us with a fatal rail
crash on a single track branchline and ruin our statistics.
(17/34). Rail: 2 (20/34). Cycleway: 1 (14/34).
The car, with
its end-to-end journey, offers little opportunity for exercise
and obviously loses this one. The bike offers maximum opportunity
for exercise, since the entire journey is spent exercising. The
train does not come off as badly as might be expected - since
the stations are not entirely convenient for the relevant villages,
most users will get the opportunity to indulge in a short walk
to reach their station of choice. A ten-minute walk at one end
of the journey and a five-minute walk at the other, done twice
a day, tots up nicely to the Government's recommended 30 minutes
daily moderate exercise.
(17/36). Rail: 1 (21/36). Cycleway: 2 (15/38)
This is always
an important point; it's all very well saying that people who
use a cycleway will be happier than rail passengers, but the
step from the car to the train is arguably shorter than the step
from the car to the bike. By moving to the train you do not have
to make a big up-front financial outlay, you are not putting
yourself at the mercy of the weather and you are generally still
getting a nice cosy seat (particularly on a service running through
a rural area where there will probably not normally be enough
passengers to fill a three-coach set). It is therefore easier
to decide that the rail journey looks attractive one morning
and walk down to the station to catch the train than it is to
decide that the bike looks attractive and go out to pump up the
tyres, oil the chain, check the brakes and find some new batteries
for the lights (assuming that you have a bike sitting in the
shed to start using).
If you don't
already have a bike then at least you are in a slightly better
position than someone looking to take up driving, who will have
to spend 6 months and £800 learning to drive and then go
out to spend £10,000 on a car. The bike will only cost
(17/38). Rail: 2 (23/38). Cycleway: 1 (16/38).
and the next one are being defined based on their definitions
as used by the rail network - punctuality is the test as to how
likely you are to arrive on time. The punctuality of the car
can be ruined by a few adverse traffic lights, a spot of bad
weather, a set of roadworks, a nice pile-up or slightly more
traffic than usual. It tends to be advisable to leave plenty
of time for a modern car journey. The bike tends to be harder
to work in all of the situations above but largely they have
little effect on overall running time. The train can be very
punctual but will inevitably run into a few problems occasionally
and our ridiculously tight schedule won't help matters much.
While trains will always be able to find an alternative passing
loop to cross at and there is a good turn-around at Monmouth
Troy so as to minimise knock-on disruption, it remains a fact
that any slight issues along the way will knock the punctuality
(18/40). Rail: 0 (23/40). Cycleway: 2 (18/40).
This is the
measure of how likely it is that your preferred form of transport
will get you to your destination at all. All three are actually
quite good at this area, but the car is probably best since it
doesn't insist on going to bed at 23:00 (unlike the train). The
train tends to be a little unpunctual but if we have a train
which doesn't break down too much then we will be able to offer
a service which will almost invariably be able to get through
(and the advantage of keeping a train overnight at the Monmouth
end of the line would be that unless Monmouth Tunnel falls in
it will always be possible to rustle up something to work a train
out of Monmouth some way down the line). When the bike breaks
down it tends to be fairly serious and it is often advisable
to obtain a lift of some kind. Punctures are the notorious one,
but brake and gear cables can occasionally give grief and once
in a while your chain will snap.
(20/42). Rail: 1 (24/42). Cycleway: 0 (18/42).
The road serves
everyone in the valley, although it only really benefits those
with cars. The railway will run along the valley floor and largely
only benefit those within a half-mile radius of one of its many
stations. The cycleway will serve bits of Tidenham plus Tintern
and Brockweir, giving it the smallest catchment area.
(22/44). Rail: 1 (25/44). Cycleway: 0 (18/44).
on other routes
The road is
already there, so it will be impacted on rather than impacting
on. The cycleway will largely only affect the possibility of
running trains over the current railway which (given its condition
and the lack of a junction with the mainline) is fairly low.
The railway will require the rebuilding of bridges at Wyesham,
Brockweir and Bishton, the installation of a level crossing with
associated road relevelling at Bigsweir/ St Briavels and the
provision of a new bridge or level crossing at Redbrook. It will
also close the public right of way between Tintern Quarry and
Tintern and require a few footpath diversions to be put in.
(24/46). Rail: 0 (25/46). Cycleway: 1 (19/46).
of alternative routes
There is nowhere
else that the A466 could conceivably go if it had to be diverted.
Likewise, the railway cannot realistically be laid out along
an alternative route to that used originally.
Not so the
cycleway. Our own explorations with a moderately fit and barking
mad Founder who has ridden a bike a lot but has no idea how to
get the best out of one found a perfectly good and far more interesting
alternative route, which we will kindly lay out by means of a
set of pictures here:
appearing to be maintained purely to cause traffic problems,
Chepstow's surviving town gate spans the former route of the
A48 heading towards Gloucester as it enters the town. Turning
left here takes you onto a suburban road which eventually emerges
onto the A466 at Chepstow Racecourse, via lots of speed bumps
and chicanes. Those coming from the railway station have to come
up the hill, pass through the gate and then turn to (their) right.
Around Chepstow traffic is slow enough to allow for cycling or
the roads are wide enough to allow provision of suitable facilities.
is on the outskirts of Chepstow, with a field for parking in
behind the hedge on the left, a layby with a burger bar for refreshments
next to the very wide A466 down the middle and the racecourse
itself off to the right. After climbing slightly from here to
reach St Arvans the A466 runs down the flanks of the distant
Wynd Cliffe. An alternative path around the tighter bits of the
Wynd Cliffe would be easy to arrange (there's one already there).
The A466 can then be followed down to Tintern or an alternative
path arranged down the hill through fields and along the riverbank.
The B4228 links
St. Briavels with Chepstow; it is linked to Brockweir and Tintern
by a narrow lane which doesn't have much traffic on it and could
easily take cyclists, though it's a bit steep in places. The
B4228 itself is wide enough for four feet to be set aside on
the southbound side for cyclists. It goes past several laybys
and through a few villages with pubs on its undulating run south.
Overall it is mostly up, until you reach the top by Tintern Quarry,
after which it tends to slope away rather sharply. There are
plenty of alternative lanes to dive off onto along the way if
that there is a simple, cheaper route for cyclists to be put
onto if they really need one. If Sustrans still wants to re-open
a tunnel in the area we suggest heading off to the old Severn
and Wye Railway's Mierystock Tunnel on its Lydbrook branch (the
tunnel's south portal is seen below). Most of the branch is already
a cycleway - except for the bat-free tunnel, which is quite short
and would provide a nice underpass under a busy and genuinely
dangerous road if someone would like to take a few thousand quid
and a few extra persuasion skills up there to persuade the Forestry
Commission to re-open it. The tunnel is of some architectural
interest (both of its portals have unique profiles which are
not quite identical) and there is no prospect of the branch re-opening
to trains any time soon.
the tunnel would help bring Lydbrook properly onto the Forest
of Dean cycle network and would allow (long-term) dreams of putting
a cycleway on the old Ross and Monmouth line between Symonds
Yat and Lydbrook to link the current Peregrine Path with the
Dean cycleways. (Since there is an industrial estate on the Ross
and Monmouth line at Monmouth Sustrans can rest assured that
we do not immediately want the Ross and Monmouth trackbed - although
they may wish to oppose any planning applications to convert
that industrial estate to open land).
At the current
time we may add that we would not be immediately inclined to
financially support either of these projects (proposing the reinstatement
of unremunerative railways is not a profitable activity) but,
unlike the present proposal, we would not bother to oppose them.
only grants points to those options which are stuck with their
current routes - encouraging obstinacy.
(25/48). Rail: 2 (27/48). Cycleway: 0 (19/48).
on the valley's wider economy
The car has
had 50 years of almost unchallenged power in rural areas, yet
a Government report released at the beginning of March 2010 said
that rural areas were in massive decline. We may infer that the
car is not providing much of a benefit beyond keeping the valley's
settlements in existence for second homes.
will help reverse this by opening up the valley to the cyclist,
but the through route will bypass Tintern (which has the facilities
to look after some cyclists once they've found somewhere to park
their bikes) and run through Brockweir instead (which is not
set up to look after cyclists). It may turn Tintern into a cycling
town but it will do little for the wider population. As noted
above, it won't make cycling to Tintern exceptionally faster
and Llandogo, Redbrook and Monmouth will still be miles from
new transport links.
mentioned in the first paragraph suggested better public transport
and of course railways are public transport. An hourly rail service
will provide access to jobs, wider facilities and the bigger
cities. It will bring people in to spend money, it will bring
around 30 jobs (mostly based around Monmouth and Tidenham, although
our pondered electricity-generating incinerator at Tintern would
probably employ 15 or so people) and it will allow people to
live locally and work a little further away. It will improve
access to schools and universities. Friends of station groups
would provide the unemployed and retired with something fulfilling,
socially enjoyable and worthwhile to do in their spare time (unless
they have such things to do already). A rail link to Monmouth
will also encourage development there. There is the small downside
that every house along the route would find that its value had
gone up by 10%.
(25/50). Rail: 2 (29/50). Cycleway: 1 (20/50).
So it seems
that the railway comes first on 58%, the road comes second on
50% and the cycleway comes third on 40%. That was genuinely unintended.
We were at least hoping to find that we'd fiddled it so that
the cycleway came second.
As this was
written by someone who commutes with a former holder of the title
of UK's Worst Train Operating Company and cycled to college every
day for two years and still/therefore thinks that a railway is
a better option we'd like some lottery funding for our friendly
planning application went in we have, however, decided to award
the cycleway another two bonus points for "Lifting the Opposition's
ideas" after they plagiarised part of our Full History article
for their paperwork. The final tally therefore comes in at railway
56%, road 48% and cycleway 42%.)
Council objected to the cycleway on the following grounds; our
comments on how they would impact on the railway are provided
below each point.
parking around access points - No parking will be provided
at most stations; this will be emphasised is publicity material.
Locals will be encouraged to assist in enforcement. Most punters
will park at Chepstow, Tidenham, Tintern, St Briavels, Redbrook,
Monmouth Troy or at National Rail stations with parking facilities;
parking arrangements will be made at these stations and encouragement
provided not to drive to the station.
to farm vehicles using the complete width of the lane hedge to
hedge - With the exception of Netherhope and Whitebrook Halts,
no intermediate stations will have access from narrow through
- Usage figures
are misleading and do not recognise that morning users will not
have vacated parking when the afternoon users arrive - Rail
figures need proper assessment, but rail traffic tends to feature
morning and evening peaks with limited traffic in between. Daytime
parking is likely to be less of an issue and will probably feature
those without access to a car.
maintenance is unclear - The railway will be maintained by
the railway for the railway out of railway money. If additional
funding is needed, every possible avenue will be explored before
approaching councils and their limited funds.
- Path remote
from emergency medical assisstance - Wherever possible the
train will proceed to a station with convenient access for the
emergency services. A serious accident incapcitating the train,
passengers and staff is highly unlikely but procedures will be
put in place and emergency services given training on handling
worst-case scenarioes, including two-train collisions in Tidenham
Tunnel and on bridges over the Wye.
- Insecure nature
of the path open to use by quad bikes and motorcycles - Surviving
motorcyclists and quad-bikers will face the full force of the
law. The last people to be caught quad-biking on the South Wales
Mainline were struck by a 75mph train and killed - this will
be emphasised in school visits prior to the re-opening of the
risk to adjacent property and land-owners from burglaries/thefts/antisocial
behaviour - See previous point. Since we have every interest
in maintaining the safety of the line and good relations with
neighbours we will take great pleasure in aiding any attempt
to bring prosecutions.
conflict between cyclists, walkers and horse riders as already
experienced elsewhere on Forest trails/tracks - We have experienced
this, but since Sustrans people never use their own cycleways
they haven't. This will not be an issue on the railway, which
will be exclusively for the use of trains.
- Costs to the
parish of additional litter/dog foul collection bins and cost
to clear - We will provide such facilities on board every
train and at every railway station. Elsewhere this will be the
responsibility of the Parish Council but we will endeavour not
to load any further costs on them.
- Burden of
maintenance must not fall on parishoners - It won't, except
through rail fares.
- Leisure facility
accessed by car is not sustainable - Agreed. The railway will
be a transport facility allowing access to leisure facilities
without the use of a car.
- Proposal would
not contribute to the economy of the Parish of Tidenham - Moot
point depending on your view on what the Hundred of Tidenham
has based its economy on. Will certainly support the National
Diving and Activity Centre and visitors will be pointed by helpful
leaflets towards Tidenham Church and local public houses.
- No public
toilets within the Parish of Tidenham - Tidenham station and
all trains will have toilets. While providing Tutshill, Netherhope
and Tintern Quarry with toilets would be desireable, the stations
will be too small to accomodate such expensive facilities.