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Bid to reopen Sharpness railway line

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: January 13, 2010

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COMMUNITY leaders are supporting a bid for up to £400,000 in lottery cash to help reopen the Sharpness branch railway line.

Tourism bosses and councillors in the Berkeley Vale are among those backing inventor David Heathcote and his team's attempt to get Big Lottery money via a TV contest.

His Pro-Active Vision Ltd aims to restore the four and a half miles of track for visitors to attractions including Berkeley Castle and for freight trains to Sharpness Docks.

"The chosen name for the railway is Berkeley Vale Railway or, less formally, The Beaver Line," Mr Heathcote said.

"We are in a watery place and it's a play on the letters BeaVeR."

He added: "We expect to see the Vale of Berkeley become a centre for excellence in all ways, rather than continue watching its slow but proven decline.

"It is a mission to us and we intend to see the area become an example of just how a community working together can rise from the ashes of unemployment and be a place sought after to visit, be proud of to live in and a catalyst of resurrection power."

The line from Berkeley Heath, via Berkeley, to Sharpness Docks last carried passengers in November 1964 and goods trains stopped running in January 1966. It also connects to the Bristol to Birmingham main line.

Pro-Active Vision proposes running steam engines to draw visitors as well as diesel locos for commercial uses. These could include carrying coal to a potential new coal-fired power station in Berkeley which is, as yet, a pipedream.

Tourism officers at Stroud District Council welcomed the proposed line reopening.

"Not only would it encourage tourists to the district's attractions and businesses but also it would help ease volumes of traffic on the roads," a spokeswoman said.

Berkeley councillor John Stanton said he thought the scheme was an "excellent concept".

Pro-Active Vision has already been awarded £10,000 to work up its plans and will hear in May if it has got into the final of the Big Lottery Village SOS scheme. Finalists will then feature in a six-part series on BBC One later this year.

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    John, Gloucester  |  January 31 2010, 3:21PM

    Seems you have lots of support ? not one person has commented from Sharpness or Berkeley.Maybe they are not interested!

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    David Heathcote, Gloucester  |  January 13 2010, 9:17PM

    I was pleased to see the comments made by Cliffrat Stonehouse. There is as part of the plan for a park and ride scheme to Gloucester, morning and evening excluding weekends. Apparently there is an acute shortage of DMU's available though says Network Rail. NR thinks it could be some time before this can be accommodated, but we will continue to try. In fact ALL of Cliffrat's suggestions are splendid and we will attempt to do this. Rev David Heathcote

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    Cliffrat, Stonehouse  |  January 13 2010, 12:03PM

    Should have mentioned the need for a link from the GWR to the Sharpness branch, similar to the need for a bus link from Minehead to Lynton for visiting the 'three lines' package of West Somerset, Lynton/Lynmouth Cliff railway and the L&B line. Comments box too small to notice the omission when scrolling through.

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    Cliffrat, Stonehouse  |  January 13 2010, 11:33AM

    This scheme should be linked to both a park-and-ride scheme to Gloucester for the south of the county and some serious lobbying for a CHP incinerator at Sharpness, then the rail could be used to bring in much of the waste to be burned. At a stroke that saves the need for a coal-fire power station which would be replaced by the CHP generating plant, solves the rubbish disposal issues and cuts the need for road transport for waste. The income from the waste transport should then make the tourist side financially secure. With the Dean Forest railway across the estuary there should be some scope for running excursions, maybe from the GWR at Toddington, to Sharpness with a link, be it boat or hovercraft, to Lydney to 'do' the forest line as well so making a fairly mouth-watering draw for rail enthusiasts to feast on three lines in one outing.

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