Railway cycle tracks

Fasgadh
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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby Fasgadh » 3 Mar 2018, 8:23am

When the Airdrie Bathgate railway, a rails to trails Sustrans route was reopened, the path was retained beside the railway.

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby Cyril Haearn » 3 Mar 2018, 8:44am

Steady rider wrote:Thanks Richard
Interesting to hear about these lines. Since they were introduced it would be good the know if the heritage lines have gained by having more people near by. If these line have benefitted with cycle path being added alongside, this info could be used to contact others and promote extra paths/tracks. I expect to be in Bristol this year so will have a look.

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Labrat
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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby Labrat » 3 Mar 2018, 7:34pm

Tempted to think that before worrying about the routes alongside used tracks we ought to concentrate on protecting and securing rights of access to the hundreds, (possibly even thousands) of Miles of disused railway tracks that are still out there waiting to be brought back into use for cycling, walking and horseriding.

Personally, I find it frustrating that in many of these cases, the routes have been dismissed as being of little or no transport or utility value (ie. they go out into the countryside) so have been dismissed by many of the organisations and local authorities rather than brought into use for leisure and recreational use (and, again IMO, that means that they don’t require the same level of surfacing, so would often offer excellent value for money improvements to the wider countryside access and PROW network)

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mjr
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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby mjr » 3 Mar 2018, 10:55pm

Richard Fairhurst wrote:There are already a few heritage lines where cycle routes run alongside: NCN 4 runs alongside the Avon Valley Railway near Bristol, NCN 8 alongside the Welsh Highland Railway near Caernarfon, and NCN 27 alongside a line whose name eludes me near Plymouth.

Not only heritage lines. NCR4 runs alongside a freight spur near Lawrence Hill, Concorde Way runs alongside the mainline for a bit between there and Filton, NCR41 runs alongside the Portbury freight line, NCR33 runs alongside the mainline east of Nailsea (mostly above it, on the top of the cutting embankment) and for a couple of short stretches in Weston-super-Mare and Taunton, NCR6 next to the WCML between Castlethorpe and MK and probably many more besides.
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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby Steady rider » 5 Mar 2018, 8:22pm

https://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map?gcl ... gKJqvD_BwE

I expect Sustrans may have data of how well these routes alongside rail lines are used. The ones mentioned above still seem to take some finding looking on the Sustrans web site.

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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby jgurney » 13 Apr 2018, 12:00am

tonich wrote: why have we never made use of current railway lines? This would involve having a 'parallel' track, separated by the current fencing but running alongside our railways. This could also be used as a service line. We would then have an extensive off road cycle network


Apart from the issue of lack of space as already discussed, other restraints are:

- expensive bridges needed at railway junctions.

- bringing cyclists and pedestrians into areas previously visited only by people inside trains or occasional railway workers. Particularly in urban areas this can lead to problems of:

--- interference with rail-side land functioning as wildlife shelters and corridors (especially if bushes are cleared to create paths).

--- neighbouring landowners concerned about risks of burglars and trespassers entering properties from the new paths..

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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby atlas_shrugged » 13 Apr 2018, 9:49am

@jguerney

I think you meant to speak of the *advantages* of the cycle tracks beside rail lines:

Needing inexpensive *underpasses* to bypass rail junctions. These are better for bikes as there is less height transition and the 'hill' comes after the 'dip' this is especially good for young and older cyclists. Small diameter underpasses are cheap to build with modern drilling equipment - the tunnel can be drilled overnight.

Cycles are very compatible with wild life mainly because they do not kill them (unlike cars). The speed of cycles is slower than motor vehicles and they are virtually silent so there is very little disruption to wild life. I had a wonderful encounter with a beautiful full sized deer on the Dutch Lf1 coastal cycleway.

Cycles are not normally the vehicle of choice for removing swag - that normally being the preserve of the white van. I do agree that vandalism increases with cycle (and motor) provision. But vandalism increases with higher concentration of vicars. This is an enforcement issue so not under the remit of cycling clubs. IMHO opinion there are better ways to solve these issues with more Dads and less welfare. Cycles are not really to blame.

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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby Bmblbzzz » 13 Apr 2018, 10:58am

Cycle tracks within the fence-to-fence width of a working railway is a non-starter, as The Pink One has pointed out. Not enough space, not safe, would prevent or complicate access for maintenance. Even where tracks have been singled, many of these are now being redoubled (or even re-quadrupled!) eg Kemble-Swindon, Bristol Temple Meads-Bristol Parkway and if railway use (basically, if transport generally) continues to rise, then even more is likely to happen in the future.

mjr wrote:
Richard Fairhurst wrote:There are already a few heritage lines where cycle routes run alongside: NCN 4 runs alongside the Avon Valley Railway near Bristol, NCN 8 alongside the Welsh Highland Railway near Caernarfon, and NCN 27 alongside a line whose name eludes me near Plymouth.

Not only heritage lines. NCR4 runs alongside a freight spur near Lawrence Hill, Concorde Way runs alongside the mainline for a bit between there and Filton, NCR41 runs alongside the Portbury freight line, NCR33 runs alongside the mainline east of Nailsea (mostly above it, on the top of the cutting embankment) and for a couple of short stretches in Weston-super-Mare and Taunton, NCR6 next to the WCML between Castlethorpe and MK and probably many more besides.

I know all of the ones I've bolded and only the Avon Valley Railway shares its PW with cyclists. This is a single-track heritage railway on a double-track bed. It was closed in the late 1960s and the work on turning it into a cycle track started a few years later. The heritage railway was opened once the cycle track was already running (albeit in a much more primitive state than it is now). There is a simple post and wire fence between track and path, and significantly, the railway has a speed limit of just 20mph; the general speed limit for heritage railways is 25mph and it might be the lower limit is imposed due to the proximity of cyclists and pedestrians (though there might be other reasons, I don't know).

As for the others mentioned, the cycle path runs alongside railway land, not on it. They might be using paths that were created by railway workers in the past, and there might be more potential for similar cycle paths, as in most cases there would already be a footpath, even if not a right of way.

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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby Bmblbzzz » 13 Apr 2018, 11:02am

A timely reminder of the danger of train slipstreams: https://www.maidenhead-advertiser.co.uk ... -path.html

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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby mjr » 13 Apr 2018, 11:39am

Bmblbzzz wrote:Cycle tracks within the fence-to-fence width of a working railway is a non-starter, as The Pink One has pointed out. Not enough space, not safe, would prevent or complicate access for maintenance. Even where tracks have been singled, many of these are now being redoubled (or even re-quadrupled!) eg Kemble-Swindon, Bristol Temple Meads-Bristol Parkway and if railway use (basically, if transport generally) continues to rise, then even more is likely to happen in the future. [...]

As for the others mentioned, the cycle path runs alongside railway land, not on it. They might be using paths that were created by railway workers in the past, and there might be more potential for similar cycle paths, as in most cases there would already be a footpath, even if not a right of way.

Bristol Temple Meads-Bristol Parkway is doubled. Maybe it's being re-quadrupled. I don't think Concorde Way where it runs alongside is under threat from it.

And the point isn't necessarily that these routes need to run inside the current fence-to-fence, but it's great if they can run alongside and share infrastructure where possible, as roads tend not to cross railways. Also, many of the redoubled routes seem like they're going to need additional strips of land purchased alongside because the disused second track has often been used for modern equipment, especially overhead line electrification supports and it'll probably be a relatively tiny extra to buy another 4m width for an express cycleway. The exceptions will be the exceptional structures like viaducts and long bridges.
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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby Bmblbzzz » 13 Apr 2018, 11:52am

mjr wrote:
Bmblbzzz wrote:Cycle tracks within the fence-to-fence width of a working railway is a non-starter, as The Pink One has pointed out. Not enough space, not safe, would prevent or complicate access for maintenance. Even where tracks have been singled, many of these are now being redoubled (or even re-quadrupled!) eg Kemble-Swindon, Bristol Temple Meads-Bristol Parkway and if railway use (basically, if transport generally) continues to rise, then even more is likely to happen in the future. [...]

As for the others mentioned, the cycle path runs alongside railway land, not on it. They might be using paths that were created by railway workers in the past, and there might be more potential for similar cycle paths, as in most cases there would already be a footpath, even if not a right of way.

Bristol Temple Meads-Bristol Parkway is doubled. Maybe it's being re-quadrupled. I don't think Concorde Way where it runs alongside is under threat from it.

Correct on all points! :D In fact a short section of the Concorde Way has recently been realigned to run right next to the fence on top of the cutting between Bonnington Walk and the substation near the MoD, due to building work on the rugby club.

And the point isn't necessarily that these routes need to run inside the current fence-to-fence, but it's great if they can run alongside and share infrastructure where possible, as roads tend not to cross railways.

What sort of infrastructure are you thinking of? Agreed railside paths can make good routes; direct, flat, and (perhaps surprisingly) peaceful. The Flax Bourton Greenway (NCR 33) is a great example of this.

Also, many of the redoubled routes seem like they're going to need additional strips of land purchased alongside because the disused second track has often been used for modern equipment, especially overhead line electrification supports and it'll probably be a relatively tiny extra to buy another 4m width for an express cycleway. The exceptions will be the exceptional structures like viaducts and long bridges.

I'm not sure of that. I think there's usually room for OLE masts alongside the track. Certainly there doesn't seem to have been any extra land taken for the GWML electrification. If it were necessary, I think there would be two big problems: money of course, and trackside development. Not to mention the ever present problem of political will, so three problems. Construction of course is also a frequent problem in turning disused railways into other uses, and even more so in reopening them as railways; the Oxford-Cambridge project has run into big problems with this.

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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby pwa » 13 Apr 2018, 11:54am

Network Rail have specifications for the minimum distance from the rail to the fence that keeps the public off the line. Whether that distance varies with the maximum train speed expected I couldn't say, though that would make sense.

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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby jgurney » 13 Apr 2018, 12:05pm

atlas_shrugged wrote:Needing inexpensive *underpasses* to bypass rail junctions. These are better for bikes as there is less height transition and the 'hill' comes after the 'dip' this is especially good for young and older cyclists. Small diameter underpasses are cheap to build with modern drilling equipment - the tunnel can be drilled overnight.


Building bridges or tunnels over or under railways is never cheap. Due to the weight of trains compared with the weight of cycles, putting the cycle route over the railway is usually less expensive, unless the railway is on an embankment anyway, hence there are far more footbridges over railways than there are pedestrian subways under them.

Cycles are very compatible with wild life mainly because they do not kill them (unlike cars). The speed of cycles is slower than motor vehicles and they are virtually silent so there is very little disruption to wild life.


Of course cycles are more compatible with wildlife than are cars and a general purpose road is more intrusive than a cycle/ped path. However a strip of bush-covered neglected land alongside an urban or suburban railway can be a valuable wildlife corridor, partly because of the bush cover, partly because humans on foot rarely go there and when they do it is always in daylight. Many animals which would be disturbed by frequent passage of humans on foot or on bikes become accustomed to passing trains and do not consider them threats. (Possibly they realise trains are not alive and treat them rather as they would a noisy river with rapids - something that can be trusted not to leave it's course and chase them). Building rail-side cycle/ped paths in such settings, by removing cover and bringing in people at all hours, would affect resident wildlife.

Cycles are not normally the vehicle of choice for removing swag ...... Cycles are not really to blame.


Cyclists would not be - a pedestrian-only footpath would have exactly that same effect. The point is that neighbouring landowners are likely to raise objections to such plans because of a real or imagined security risk.

Another security-related problem is that some rail-side paths would also appear insecure to some potential users, reducing usage. Imagine an urban path running between a high fence to keep trespassers off the railway, and a high wall to keep burglars out of adjacent properties. The path runs for a mile between access points. It is not overlooked by many house windows: at many points along it the only people who can see what is going on there are path users and occupants of fast-moving trains passing by. At night, would everyone feel safe walking or cycling there?

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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby gaz » 13 Apr 2018, 1:27pm

jgurney wrote:
atlas_shrugged wrote:Cycles are not normally the vehicle of choice for removing swag ...... Cycles are not really to blame.


Cyclists would not be - a pedestrian-only footpath would have exactly that same effect. The point is that neighbouring landowners are likely to raise objections to such plans because of a real or imagined security risk.

Genuine response to a recent cycle route consultation. An existing surfaced pedestrian path, 1.5m wide through open space, perhaps 50m long. The proposal is to widen it to 3m, linking a cul-de-sac to a NCN linear park route.
Neighbours have had enough grief with dog walkers not clearing up after their dogs, no end of burglaries since this park had an access installed in ******** Lane and now you want to ruin what was once a quiet peaceful neighbourhood and add cyclists to the mix too!! It will definitely not be safe now to allow the young children that reside here to play in their gardens for fear of even more unknown passers by!
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Re: Railway cycle tracks

Postby mjr » 13 Apr 2018, 1:38pm

jgurney wrote:Imagine an urban path running between a high fence to keep trespassers off the railway, and a high wall to keep burglars out of adjacent properties. The path runs for a mile between access points. It is not overlooked by many house windows: at many points along it the only people who can see what is going on there are path users and occupants of fast-moving trains passing by. At night, would everyone feel safe walking or cycling there?

Maybe not absolutely everyone but the Swaffham Belt Path (named after the rectangular wood it runs through, but more often known as the Sand Line Path after the neighbouring railway) is still busy well after dark. OK, there's only a ¾ mile without accesses between the Parkway and Route 1 at the western end, but it runs between the railway and schools and playing fields for that so no-one overlooks it at all... but you don't usually need to worry about being alone because someone will ride or walk past before long, or people sometimes sit on the fallen trees along the path.
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