The 'Golden Valley Line' - is so called due to the descent from the summit of the line at Sapperton Tunnel to Gloucester being cut through a yellow/golden limestone ridge - between Swindon, on the Great Western main line and Standish Junction, on the Birmingham-Bristol main line. Opened from Gloucester Junction, immediately to the west of Swindon, to Cirencester on 31 May 1841, under the auspices of the Cheltenham & Great Western Union Railway Act of 1936, the extension to Gloucester, via Kemble (though without a station there initially) was completed on 12 May 1845. Laid to Brunel's 7ft 0 ins gauge, the line was bought by the Great Western Railway and grandly called the 'South Wales Main Line'. It was converted to standard gauge on 26 May 1872. What had now become the Cirencester branch from Kemble closed to passengers from 6 April 1964 and freight on 4 October the following year. A branch from Kemble to Tetbury was opened on 2 December 1889 - originally planned to extend to Nailsworth - and closed to passengers on the same date as the route to Cirencester, with freight going earlier this time, on 5 August 1963.The route has seen a wide variety of services, from 'main line' trains to London to the much more humble Railmotor services that ran for many years between Gloucester/Stonehouse-Chalford/Kemble. The latter ended on 2 November 1964, leaving the services to run Swindon-Gloucester as locals, with occasional through trains from/to London. In steam days it was home to the world famous 'Cheltenham Spa Express', giving the fastest journey to London. The 12-mile section from Swindon to Kemble was singled by BR to save costs but this has meant restrictions on traffic, with many services being negatively affected and preventing growth of patronage. To ease this situation and to prepare for the forthcoming electrification of the Great Western mainline, when a diversion will be required around the Severn Tunnel, the route is to be re-doubled by Network Rail over the period 2013/4. This volume, extending the compass to Gloucester, looks at both the old days, with comparisons with the present day scene and also features the doubling work, in conjunction with Network Rail. Men and machines at work give a variety of illustrations and the whole is a fascinating exposition of the transformation of this once sleepy by-way.
Publisher: Silver Link Publishing Ltd
Number of pages: 128
Dimensions: 238 x 172 x 8 mm
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