New lease of life planned for tracks behind Thornbury quarry
CALLS have been made for a railway line to be restored in Thornbury following the closure of a freight line.
South Gloucestershire councillors Brian Hopkinson and Trevor Jones are spearheading a campaign to bring the line, which once took passengers to Yate and on to Bristol but until recently served Tytherington Quarry, back into use.
They are lobbying transport chiefs to ask that the old railway, which stopped transporting passengers in 1944, is reopened in order to ease congestion on nearby roads.
The councillors believe now is the perfect time for the reinstatement as Tytherington Quarry, operated by building materials company Hanson UK, was recently mothballed, meaning the tracks that run behind it could be given a new lease of life and returned to their original purpose.
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They believe that the local authority should "grab" the opportunity to request that Network Rail reclaim the line.
In a letter sent to chief executive Amanda Deeks they said: "We believe that it is within South Gloucestershire Council's strategic transport remit to request that Network Rail reclaim this line and protect its potential for future use and we request that this is attended to swiftly.
"We cannot countenance this line being scrapped and parts of the trackbed used as a cycle track/footpath or just allowed to 'return to nature' without the potential this line offers for commuter route alternatives being investigated."
Tory councillors Mr Hopkinson, who represents the Bradley Stoke Central and Stoke Lodge ward, and Mr Jones, who represents Frenchay and Stoke Park, say they regularly hear of Thornbury residents' "frustrations" about lack of public transport and employment opportunities.
They also say the line could help cut thousands of lorry journeys if put to use should the planned construction of a nuclear power station in Shepperdine goes ahead.
In their letter they say: "With the Hitachi/Horizon new nuclear development at Oldbury back on the table, this line has the potential for running right into Oldbury.
"The amount of concrete, steel, equipment and construction workers coming into this area will be enormous. To see a greater part of this coming in by rail and the waste removed via the same route would, in our opinion, not only massively reduce the impact on our existing road infrastructure but could enhance the speed of construction and may well reduce overall costs to the developer.
"In addition it would fulfil the requirements for a long-term local legacy.
"We believe the council should act now to, at the very least, protect future options."
According to the West of England Area Rail Studies report published in April 2012, reopening the line would cost £38 million with operating costs of £3 million each year.
The Greater Bristol Metro Rail campaign, which aimed to bring former stations back into use and increase services' frequency, was launched by the four local authorities, including South Gloucestershire Council, last year.
Thornbury was not considered as part of the project's first phase, which is due to be rolled out around 2017, or second stage. But the two councillors have told The Post this does not mean the town should be disregarded and are they hoping the £38 million necessary to make the line operational again will become available.
No one from South Gloucestershire Council was available for comment yesterday.