All aboard first train to Honeybourne

Cllr Peter Barnes on board the Class 230 at Quinton Rail Technology Centre. Photo: Mark Williamson (L16/6/17/4617)

A TRAIN has run along the railway line between Stratford-upon-Avon and Honeybourne with passengers on board for the first time in almost 50 years.

A group of 30 local people and council officials made the 24-minute return journey from a specially-built platform in Long Marston last Wednesday.

The Herald has also been told that CALA Homes, which is building 4,000 homes at the neighbouring airfield, was also represented.

They were on board a former London Underground train, which has been adapted by local firm Vivarail to run on branch lines or metro lines.

It marks a major milestone for Long Marston-based Vivarail’s Class 230 project as it was the first time it had carried passengers.

The prototype used last week has a diesel engine, but a pioneering battery-powered version is also said to be attracting attention from potential customers.

Vivarail was formed three years ago and has 20 fulltime employees and has accumulated a fleet of 228 underground carriages, which it will convert on order.

Spokeswoman, Alice Gillman, said: “To have developed a train in such a short space of time is a real achievement for a small company like Vivarail.”

The first passenger run was during the Rail Live show, which took place at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre, where Vivarail is based.

Among those on board were ward district councillor Peter Barnes and council leader Chris Saint, and the council’s executive directors, Dave Webb and David Buckland, and senior planner, Dale Barker.

Cllr Barnes said: “I think it is the way forward with all the traffic on the roads and the very dangerous B6432. It may also be possible to have a station incorporated with the airfield development.”

But the presence of senior district council leaders is not an indication that the authority is shifting from its current neutral stance on the potential reinstatement of the line back into Stratford.

Cllr Saint said: “We were delighted to be invited to visit a local company to see the work they are doing, but there was no mention of the link to Stratford.”

  • pwharley

    To correct this article, the Class 230 carried passengers during Rail Live on 21/22 June.
    This is therefore the second time it has carried passengers, not the first.

    • old_moaning

      Thank you so much …I hate fake news

      • Stratford Herald

        The run we reported on and photographed carried local people – previously it was industry delegates who were at Rail Live. I think you probably know the point we were making when describing it as ‘the first’!

    • cwiseman

      phew – can sleep now thanks for the clarification

  • milo

    Get this linked to Stratford already!!!!!

    • old_moaning

      Get your cheque book out then Milo and write a cheque for £200million so it can be constructed and also a yearly direct debit to Warwickshire county council for the million pounds they will have to subsidise the fares with and also help load the white elephants onto the freight trains at the same time as they begin their journey to Stratford!

      • disqus_sk9dqsb0Rn

        The Stratford-upon-Avon – Honeybourne line was part of the former Great Western Railway’s main line from Birmingham to the west of England and south Wales and should never have been closed.The Arup report of 2012 stated that the Stratford – Honeybourne section would be viable, WITHOUT ANY SUBSIDY, with hourly services from Stratford to Moreton-in-Marsh, Oxford, Reading (for Heathrow road coach and Gatwick rail services), Slough (for Windsor) and London Paddington, in one direction,and also to Honeybourne, Evesham, Pershore, Worcestershire Parkway, due to open in 2019, (for Cheltenham, Gloucester and south Wales), and Worcester (for Malvern, Ledbury and Hereford, in the other direction.
        The Stratford – Cheltenham line only closed in August 1976 due to a major derailment at Winchcombe and the then Labour Government could not afford the funds to repair the line, as the then Chancellor Dennis Healey had to apply to the IMF for a loan to bail them out. The line was to have been upgraded before the derailment, as it was the altenative route between Birmingham and Cheltenham, avoiding the notorious ! in 37 Lickey incline.

  • HeavensGremlin .

    The old direct GWR line needs properly reinstating – pronto. Taking it up was insanity. There is no sane reason why preserved trains and regular services cannot share the line – to the benefit of BOTH….!