At the Taylor Wimpey display of plans for Ridgeway Farm on 26 May, members of the Swindon & Cricklade Railway Society were shocked to discover that the proposal to build a station next to the Network Rail line between Swindon and Gloucester has been completely ignored.
Taylor Wimpey is suggesting 100 houses can be built to the north of Purton Road, next to the Swindon to Gloucester railway line. But the society has been in discussion with Network Rail about the creation of a commuter halt next to Moredon Bridge on the same land.
Railway society vice chairman Dave Peacey said they had been involved in negotiation with Network Rail, Wiltshire and Swindon Councils over many years about extending the heritage railway beyond Taw Valley Halt to the other side of Mouldon Hill so that people could travel from Cricklade.
Society officers showed Taylor Wimpey and DPDS representatives a plan drawn by Network Rail showing how the two railway lines could meet up.
“They were a bit surprised when we produced the drawing,” said Dave. “We need to have a more detailed meeting with Taylor Wimpey because, now that we are in sight of completing the line to Mouldon Hill by next Easter, we will be looking at the longer term plan of extending the track another mile to Moredon Bridge.”
Right, Railway society officers discussing railway options with the Taylor Wimpey consultant
Gala weekends put steam railway on the tourist map
An ambitious programme of events over two weekends in June has set the scene for future developments at the Swindon & Cricklade Society.
For the first time locomotives pulling passenger carriages travelled south, past homes in Oakhurst, increasing the length of the heritage railway from just one mile to 2½ miles, stopping just short of Mouldon Hill park.
By Easter next year the society plans to extend another mile to a temporary station at Taw Valley Halt in the park itself.
Visitors will then be able to travel to the society’s base at Blunsdon station and eventually beyond. After Mouldon Hill the charity aims to complete a station outside Cricklade.
Vice chairman Dave Peacey said the weekend had been very successful. “Ninety nine per cent of Oakhurst residents who have moved into houses next to the railway line were pleased to see the trains passing at last – we’ve been promising to do this for many years.
“We had families waving to the passengers, above, and having barbecues in their gardens watching the trains going by. There was a good positive atmosphere.”
However, he said the first weekend had been marred by people walking on the line and the police had to be called at one point. “It seemed that one or two were deliberately trying to cause a problem.
“The society now has permission to run trains at up to 70mph every day of the week. The railway is a very dangerous place and we must ask people not to trespass on the line.”
Watch the charming video by Swindon’s Firebird Films.