Railway cycle network

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by tonich, 31 Jan 2018.

  1. tonich

    tonich New Member

    As we all know. In the 1960s the Beeching report lead to the closure of about one third of Britain's rail network. As a result there are now hundreds of disused railway lines which now make fabulous, safe walking and cycle routes.

    All well and good but we have missed a trick. Rather than the mindset (as great as it is) of making use of old railway lines, 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, reasonably flat and linking all major cities as well as many towns and villages.

    As I say, we may have missed this opportunity with regards to our current rail network but current legislation which includes cycle lanes for some of our new roads (which can end up poorly connected and just as dangerous) could be created for new railway lines and who's to say, if it is popular then other rail networks may add cycle tracks as budgets become available.
    GlenBen and LeetleGreyCells like this.
  2. Drago

    Drago Soiler of Y fronts

    A missed opportunity to get splashed with wee wee when someone flushes then lavvy as the train speeds past.
  3. Slick

    Slick Veteran

    I reckon you may be on to something but I would prefer them to utilise the line closed after that report that you can see from my house first. I know a lot of these lines have been uti.ised but far from them all.

    There may also be a few safety concerns with opening the entire network to the public in such close proximity to a high speed line.
  4. Tangoup51

    Tangoup51 Well-Known Member

    Taking advantage of disused railways is one thing, taking advantage of currently used railways is another.

    I actually thought about this issue myself, and the fact that there is very little gradients on railways is an attractive feature. `

    The safety issues are very high if we're talking about paths next to an active railway.

    As such the cost required to produce fencing and protection along the entire stretch would be considerably high, especially as it'd have to protect against people falling off their bikes at high speeds and also debris that can be kicked up from the train and thrown violently toward the people nearby. (Rock strikes and coal falling off tenders, etc)

    But also, I can't see where abouts you'd put a path next to a railway. You wouldn't be able to put it close to the tracks because they are needed to be accessible for maintenance. - Also, putting alot of concrete so close to the track may upset the balance of the ground and could both damage the quality and lifespan of the track and the cycle path.

    You'd have to put it much further away from the railway line than you'd think, and at that point you'd be encountering alot of embankments and alot of foliage to deal with - at which point it may be cheaper to pave a whole new path from scratch from location to location.

    Another thing too, is that there is no lighting on the railways, no security cameras and far often in a scenic, quiet place... which doesn't inspire confidence against bad guys who may be waiting to mug you and steal your bike, on the long dark stretch of railway lines.
    Last edited: 31 Jan 2018
    LeetleGreyCells likes this.
  5. DaveReading

    DaveReading Veteran

  6. OP

    tonich New Member

    You make a lot of valid points, unlike the 'pee' reference but a lot of cycle paths run beside canals and they don't have lighting. If it is unsafe because of high speed trains then they are not put there. Though I have waited at level crossings as high speed trains have passed a lot closer.
    Your thoughts are appreciated

    Attached Files:

  7. OP

    tonich New Member

    [QUOTE 5135488, member: 45"]The distances are too great, especially between facilities and off-ramps.[/QUOTE]
    In some cases that may be the case but I would think that between most stations the distance is acceptable. It might create a new cottage industry of pit stops
    LeetleGreyCells likes this.
  8. OP

    tonich New Member

    Thanks for your p*** feedback
  9. Tangoup51

    Tangoup51 Well-Known Member

    Canals aren't the safest places either. I personally opt out of using them in rougher areas.

    You have to be close to the railway in order to benefit from the groundwork that has already been done - but there's possibly of a sharp limit to how close you can lay a path to a railway due to upsetting the foundation and impeding track maintenance.

    At which point you may have to make a path far enough away from the railway that you're having to clear so much foliage and do so much ground work, that it's more cost-effective just to build a whole new path separately.

    Some areas of a railway can accommodate such a cycling groundwork, but other areas are going to be tight and difficult.

    I don't think distance is a problem, I like the idea of going to a train station just to access the rail-cycle network, and getting off at the next station etc. -

    But cost is the problem. You have to spend alot of money on surveying the areas safely, upsetting the tracks is a major safety hazard so it'll cost alot to avoid that - In alot of areas of the track will change and need re-evaluating. For tens of hundreds of miles it would be stupidly expensive to even survey all of it.

    - And alot of money on the appropriate fencing, realistically the one you see on that photo is inadequate it's no-where near high enough if you're going to fit in tightly and up close with trains on the same terrain level.

    You know when I thought of this, I thought to put concrete down the mid section of the entirety of the track and cycle on it as you please with warnings notifying you of an upcoming train behind or infront. Though, track maintenance would be impossible and the safety aspects are off the charts, it's still a fun idea.

    Though, thinking about it now, you could get away with putting down additional slats to fill in the gap between each tie, making an accessible railway for maintenance but also a complete one for cycling on.
    Last edited: 31 Jan 2018
  10. DRHysted

    DRHysted Über Member

    New Forest
    When HS2 was first mentioned I did think it might be an idea if they included a cycle path alongside it. If it was wide enough it could double as a maintenance access road as well.
    Alan O, TrishnBonnie and mjr like this.
  11. mjr

    mjr Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next

    Plenty of live lines have maintenance tracks or conduits alongside. Seems like enough room to put cycleways often.

    As for the pee comment, don't they all have retention tanks now, to avoid endangering track workers.
  12. snorri

    snorri Legendary Member

    Sounds impractical as most railway bridges and viaducts are just wide enough for the existing railway track, I doubt there is space for a cycle track alongside. Similarly railway cuttings and embankments were constructed to cater for the track alone and could not be widened without extensive expensive groundworks and disruption to existing buildings, roads and infrastructure alongside.
  13. mjr

    mjr Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next

    Some viaducts are not wide enough (Welwyn is a famous bottleneck) but plenty of bridges are wide enough. In some cases like Flowerdown Bridge in Weston-super-Mare, the extra space is already used for a cycleway even though it doesn't follow the railway either side.

    It won't work on every line but I suspect there's some very useful links that would.
  14. Tangoup51

    Tangoup51 Well-Known Member

    I find it sad that there are probably some very useful lines that would work & be able to take the conversion 98% of the distance, but at that final 2% there will always be something incredibly difficult to negotiate. Like a tight bridge for example.

    - Would be interesting to Scope out what kind of lines could take the conversion, but we'd be talking about something with no embankments and no obvious bottlenecks.
  15. mjr

    mjr Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next

    Some of the bridges over stuff could probably take clip-on cycleways. If Auckland can clip on lanes for cars...
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