Station to station: Signs go up to create Cotswold Line cycle route

Rural 'quietway' hoped to encourage bike-train commuting

by Simon_MacMichael   April 11, 2014  

Kingham station on the Cotswold Line (c) Simon MacMichael

Signs are to be put in place for a 77-mile cycle route that follows the Cotswold Line railway between Oxford and Worcester – thanks in part to £4,000 in donations raised at a beer festival at one of the towns it serves.

That money will pay for 150 signs to be put in place on quiet roads between Hanborough, the first station past Oxford, and Honeybourne, near Evesham, reports the Witney Gazette.

The funds were raised from First Great Western, which holds the franchise for the line and operates its stations; the Cotswolds Conservation Board; and Charlbury and Overseas Community Projects, which is the fundraising arm of the Charlbury Beer Festival.

Worcestershire County Council will pay for signage at the northern end of the route, and it is hoped that Oxfordshire County Council will do likewise further south.

The Cotswold Line is the closest railway line for nearby towns and villages that lost their own stations as a result of the Beeching cuts in the 1960s, such as Broadway in Worcestershire and Chipping Norton and Witney in Oxfordshire.

On its way from Oxford to Worcester, it passes through towns including Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham, and it is hoped that the initiative will help encourage people to ride a bike to the station, rather than take a car.

Early morning commuters with Brompton and other folding bikes are a regular sight on trains heading to London, while others leave their bikes at stations before getting on a train. First Great Western says it is increasing bike parking at stations including Honeybourne, Kingham, and Moreton-in-Marsh.

First Great Western’s integrated transport manager, Andrew Saunders, commented: “I am delighted to have had the opportunity to improve the services we offer to our customers.

“This cycle route will enable customers to take full advantage of travelling in a more sustainable way, making their journey to our stations or using our services to discover a little more of the beautiful North Cotswolds.”

Richard Fairhurst, Sustrans co-ordinator for North and West Oxfordshire as well as a member of Charlbury Town Council said: “It’s about joining existing quiet lanes and traffic-free tracks so you can have a pleasant ride across the Cotswolds and then get the train home if you like.

“It’s partly for commuters who can cycle rather than drive to a station but also for leisure because it encourages people to get out at weekends and enjoy their bikes.’’

John Ellis, chairman of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group, added: “We support cycling and measures to increase it because it has environmental and health benefits.It causes less congestion on the roads if people take bikes.

“There’s limited capacity on some trains for bikes but what we’re looking for is people getting on and off the trains and cycling for parts of their journeys or booking in advance.”

In 2012, the stretch of the line in question was featured in the BBC TV series Great British Train Journeys, presented by Michael Portillo.

5 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

There is some Gloucestershire in the middle. And a little bit of Warwickshire if you stray a few km off the line.

The train of course doesn't go up or down the Cotswoldy hills, so most of us here won't want to follow the marked route all the way. Though having said that, I suspect even the marked route will be quite lumpy.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [156 posts]
11th April 2014 - 12:05

like this
Like (11)

When I saw this, my first thought was of the old Adlestrop railway sign, which is now incorporated into a shelter in the village: http://goo.gl/maps/KNlmU

posted by Oranj [15 posts]
11th April 2014 - 12:08

like this
Like (9)

Yup, as Edgeley said, there is Gloucestershire (eg Moreton) and I know the Adlestrop sign Oranj mentions very well because it's on one of my regular loops. Threw me when I moved to this bit of Oxfordshire that I can ride to Warwickshire in a handful of minutes, Gloucestershire in 15, and Worcestershire isn't out of reach.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7922 posts]
11th April 2014 - 13:58

like this
Like (12)

This is wonderful, but why do efforts to improve cycle infrastructure have to come as the result of 'charity'? Why does the money to pay for this infrastructure have to come from 'donations raised at a beer festival'? Why is Sustrans a 'charity'? I've never heard of people raising money for any 'motorway charities' they passionately support.

Not to try and detract or belittle the act of getting this money raised. People acting in the face of official apathy is the best thing possible in that situation.

But that apathy is unacceptable, given the benefits investing in cycle infrastructure would bring to every corner of the communities it touches. Officials simply aren't serving the basic human needs of the places and people they have been put in charge of.

That car provisions are treated as necessity and bicycle provisions as charity signifies a damaging set of priorities. Human bodies are designed for movement, and limiting the range at which one can safely and comfortably travel under that movement is verging on denying a basic human right. If you can get somewhere easily under your own steam, you should allowed to do so without requesting the aid of something heavier and more powerful than a rhinoceros for personal safety.

Sorry about the vaguely off-topic rant, but... well, it's nice to type it somewhere.

posted by Quince [104 posts]
11th April 2014 - 21:55

like this
Like (19)

The loss of the Midland & Southwestern Junction Line from Cheltenham really did rob the area of rail connections, and Cheltenham-Honeybourne was still in place and used in the early 1970's

Much remains of the latter and trains run almost to Honeybourne from Cheltenham Racecourse Station, with the line extending some distance towards Stratford (as far as Long Marston) on the other side, just 7 miles short of the dead end at Stratford.

Most important point here though is that with cycling, many of the smaller towns are 'in range' for rail travel and the biggest traffic and winners here have to be those people who live in the area and make regular trips to the station, rather than the tourist traffic

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [470 posts]
12th April 2014 - 16:13

like this
Like (6)