Blunsdon Station and the Crosslanes Area



Ten-year extension wait over for the Swindon & Cricklade?

Railway poised to move on to ex-MSWJ route when council gives planning go-ahead.

by Howard Johnston

Published in Steam Railway N0. 268

    The Swindon & Cricklade Railway will know this month how quickly it can realise its 20-year ambition to extend from Blunsdon to the northern edge of Swindon itself.
    Track and materials are already stockpiled and ready to be laid on a mile of the former Midland & South Western Junction route as soon as Swindon Borough Council grants planning permission, expected before the end of February (2002).
    The extension will treble the railway's working line, but the lack of a run-round loop at first will mean that only simple out-and -back working will initially be possible.
    "We're holding our breath," spokesman Clive Thompson told Steam Railway.  "It might not take many months to lay the track, but we still have the complex Works Order hurdles to overcome before we can start running regular passenger services."
    Swindon & Cricklade operations are currently restricted to the half-mile between Blunsdon and Hayes Knoll because the southern extension towards Moulden Hill (north Swindon) has been hampered by the fact that it passes through an area of special scientific interest.  A bridge over the River Ray was reconstructed in 1992 at a cost of 40,000, but has not so far carried a train.
    The S&CR no longer harbours ambitions to reconnect with the main line at Swindon because of the high costs involved.  However, it may be possible to realise proposals for a new station at Sparcells on the Gloucester line, which would have a space for a bay platform, in a similar style to the nearby Cholsey & Wallingford Railway.
    The southern formation is already protected, and 250,000 was spent on constructing a deviation with three culverts, four years ago when Swindon Development Corporation took part of the original formation to lay a sewage pipe.  It is also ballasted and fenced ready for the return of the railway.
    The preserved line, which lost its BR passenger services when the through MSWJ route was closed at the end of 1961, could eventually be at least six miles long.
    North of Hayes Knoll, the trackbed is still broadly intact to the outskirts of Cricklade, where a circular diversion is still being considered to reach the popular Cotswold Water Park. 

Council praise as Swindon & Cricklade Expansion approved.

Published in Steam Railway No. 269
(March 2002)

    The landlocked Swindon & Cricklade Railway could have a main line connection within a few years.  In the meantime, members are celebrating the decision by planners on March 11 to allow the construction of the one-mile southern extension towards Swindon.
    Swindon Borough council has given its warm support to the new line from Blunsdon to Moulden Hill Country Park, close to the northern edge of the railway town.
    Planning chairman Doreen Dart said the S&CR was doing "a marvellous job on a shoestring budget".
    As detailed in SR268 (above), the first piece of new railway over the former Midland & south Western Junction route will be laid over the 40,000 River Ray bridge - completed in 1992 but still waiting for its first train.  The eventual target is a bay platform at the new Sparcells station on the Swindon - Gloucester line


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