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
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
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 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