Supporters of the Honeybourne Line claimed that a careful assessment of ten potential issues did not reveal any drawbacks arising from the proposal to reinstate the railway.

From Section 1.3, page 3 and pages 10 to 12 of “An Enhanced Business Case for New Rail Services North and South of Stratford-upon-Avon 2013”.

Our responses to these ten issues are shown below :

1. The trains would not bring undue noise for residents 

  • There is no proof to substantiate this claim.
  • Only operational airborne noise was assessed in the GRIP 3 report issued in 2012.
  • Temporary effects during construction, indirect effects due to infrastructure changes, traction noises from rail vehicles, ground-borne noise and vibration, and cumulative effects have not yet been assessed – Ove Arup GRIP 3 Report, Section 7.5 Further Work to be Done.

2.  Greenway users would not incur any significant disbenefits (their word, not ours) from passing trains

  • The railway line would run along the existing Greenway track bed.
  • It would result in the Greenway being displaced sideways or rerouted, require unsightly safety barriers, destroy trees and other flora, and generate traffic noise and disturbance where there is otherwise a tranquil and peaceful environment undisturbed by a railway. See Ove Arup GRIP 3 Report, Section 2.10 Safety and Section 8.6 Ecology.

3.   No undue changes would be made to the urban footpaths

  • Urban footpaths and the people who use them will suffer, particularly in Summerton Way, with its adjoining houses, two schools, Stratford College of Further education, a home for senior citizens and retirement flats.
  • It is a traffic-free footpath and cycle way, used constantly by residents, schoolchildren, students, elderly or disabled people and tourists.
  • It is an area of natural beauty with many mature trees, an important connection with other pathways into the town centre and the two leading to Anne Hathaway’s cottage and it is in constant use throughout the year.
  • One of our members recorded over 200 people per hour using the northern end of Summerton Way at peak times.
  • SGG believes that this green space should be a protected area for the enjoyment of Stratford residents and visitors from home and abroad.

4.   No traffic delays or disruption would arise from reinstatement of the railway

  • There will be significant traffic delays because of the closure of Seven Meadows Road during construction and its reduced width upon reopening.
  • This will drive traffic further into town and causing severe disruption.

5.   Being a temporary activity, these works are unlikely to present an environmental concern

  • This is blatantly untrue.
  • The Executive Summary on Page 7 of the 2012 Ove Arup GRIP 3 Report clearly states there will be significant environmental impacts.

6.   The likelihood of any freight trains via Stratford-upon-Avon is remote

A number of statements in the 2012 Ove Arup GRIP 3 Report raise doubts about the rail supporters claim that there are no plans to run freight that meet the W6A gauge requirements as shown below:

  • “The general recommendation of the Study is that we believe there is sufficient evidence to proceed with further work to demonstrate the case for the reinstatement of a heavy rail route between Stratford and Honeybourne.” See the Executive Summary on Page 7.
  • “Subject to priority pathing requirements of passenger services and single line constraints, the Stratford to Honeybourne line could accommodate freight trains to gauge W6A.  If such trains were to transfer from alternative routes (such as Oxford/Birmingham route) there would be increased potential for growth of W10 gauge freight traffic on these alternatives.” See Section 3.1, Train Service Options.
  • “There will be additional economic benefits of the scheme which have not been quantified. Potentially the line will offer a new route for rail freight traffic. Whilst the Cotswold line is cleared only to freight gauge W6A, freight trains up to this gauge will have the opportunity to transfer, releasing capacity on other routes. This may be especially beneficial on the route through Oxford and Banbury from the south coast ports.” See the Section 9.5 Economic Appraisal.

7.   The general amenity of the Greenway would remain throughout and greater rail use would assist safer, healthier and less crowded streets for all

  • The Greenway would not be the same. It would be a shared space with a railway line within the current width.
  • Walkers, cyclists, dog walkers, families and horse riders would be squeezed to one side, providing they could be accommodated safely  – and there is doubt about that in the double-track sections of the proposed railway.
  • A Greenway where trains hold sway is a diminished and damaged leisure and environmental amenity.

8.   A new rail service would benefit many Stratford homeowners

  • An unfounded opinion based upon questionable passenger projections.
  • It is more likely to adversely affect the well-being of those living in houses close to the proposed line as well as reducing the value of their properties.

9.   A rail link could usefully reduce car commuting and through traffic flows, not least benefiting sensitive historic villages

  • Traffic jams in the town arising from restrictions in Seven Meadows Road, backup from extra traffic from 800 new houses west of Anne Hathaway’s cottage, backup to Banbury Road and to Shipston Road and streets would be even more crowded than at present.
  • They would further reduce air quality  and make Stratford a less healthy and appealing place to live, work or visit.

10.  The direct link would generate a thriving tourist economy and create much increased employment in Stratford-upon-Avon

  • If this were true, then why have existing rail services direct from Stratford-upon-Avon to London Marylebone ceased?
  • There is no evidence to support the claim that a branch line would bring such substantial benefits.

The rail supporters’ conclusion that their study firmly establishes that there are no significant grounds for local concerns is clearly untrue.