Thursday, 30 April 2015

GWR, GWR and GWR [3]

Racecourse Station with Tribulation.
Modern technolgy helps a lot. The Google Maps view of the racecourse suggests that the station may well be there, top left, surrounded by car parking or, possibly, rather poor quality misshapen crop circles(?).
A Zoom reveals what might be an entrance on the Evesham Road (bpttpm left) and what looks like a hut with a path leading to the platform building. The Geograph photo site confirms this.
Even more encouragingly Traveline has both locations in its index.
But the delivered journey plan is less encouraging.
A 14 minute walk? Seems an awful long way from bus stop to booking office. And Traveline's little map says the same; a hefty toddle!
But fbb, terrier-like in his gnawing at possibilities, thinks perhaps bus D doesn't run past the little hut, perhaps it goes via Swindon Lane? A few more slioghtly irritating clicks and we see the excellent Stagecoach map.
It seems that bus D does, indeed, pass the booking hut! Back to Traveline's ditto which shows all the stops; except that the new-look national Traveline front end doesn't mention timetables or route maps. Now fbb, as a lifelong fan of Traveline (snort of derision!), knows that you can still access the old, untrendy, regional Traveline sites.

But which region is Cheltenham in. The choice seems to be "South West" or "West Midlands"; neither of which is an ideal descriptor of the location of Cheltenham. The blue rinse brigade from the posher bits would need revival with a good sniff of sal volatile if they thought they had anything to do with Birmingham!
In fact, Stagecoach Gloucester route D is in both.
And, golly gosh and strike me down with a wet kipper ...
... D stands for "Doesn't Stop" at the railway. Why not? There is a rudimentary foorpath for passengers from Cheltenham and no visibility problems if you cross the road at the bridge.
To Cheltenham there is space for a stop after the bridge as well; even space for a bus trap (aka a lay by). There would be better visibility before the bridge ...
.. and, again, there is a footpath. There is also a sign directing motorists via the Racecourse Roundabout.
Don't you DARE try to get into the station this way; the rabid guard dogs and hefty security men with kalashnikovs will get you and intern you in a GWR siphon B ...

... (note chair for armed guard!) if you should be foolish enough to try!

This all looks very much like the work of Gloucestershire's jobsworth planning officers and/or 'elf'n'safety so-called experts.

But nobody travels to a superb example pf public transport heritage by public transport (even if buses do run every 10 minutes Monday to Saturday, every 30 minutes Sunday), that would never do!

To be fair and even handed, the GWR web site does warn its visitors of this situation ...

Cheltenham Race Course Station is the southern terminus of the GWR. The GWR's station is signposted from the the main entrance to the race course where there is ample parking for both cars and coaches. There is a GWR shop on the platform with lots of gifts for all ages.

Persons using public transport, route D, to get to Cheltenham Racecourse station are advised to walk the ¾ mile from the park and ride stop.

... but ¾ mile is a long way for those of fbb's advanced years.

An opportunity missed. Such a pity!

But there may be other options. We must investigate further.

 Next bus blog : Friday 1st May 


  1. FBB. You must remember that the Racecourse station was never built with public access in mind. It was built for going to the racecourse and was only open on the few days per year that racing took place?

    Whilst it would be very nice to be able to get around by public transport, and I wouldn't be reading this blog if that was an idea I didn't support, there are times when other things have to come into play. In this case the conditions really aren't suitable to put a bus stop in. The road is at the national speed limit. Traffic coming southbound from Bishops Cleeve does not have a clear sight line over the railway bridge as it is on a rising escarpment. Without having something such as a light controlled pedestrian crossing those (sadly few, I think) people who might have arrived by bus from Cheltenham would have difficulty in crossing the road safely.

    Had Cheltenham Borough Council been a bit more visionary, alongside whichever appropriate bit of British Rail it would have been at the time, the route southwards to the junction at Lansdown would have been protected and a station built alongside the existing one with access from Queens Road. However, that didn't happen, and now it probably can't, so the chances of a connected offering to the public have gone.

    Perhaps FBB could persuade the GWR, through his blogging, to offer some sort of transport from the Park & Ride stop to the Racecourse station.

  2. There are plenty of bus stops in far worse positions in both rural and urban areas. Presumably you can get mangled at them because "they have always been there" - whereas you are not even allowed the risk of being mangled at Racecourse because our litigious world is intent on expunging common sense and self-responsibility from our lives. I would have thought that the stop at Winchcombe was as dangerous but in a different way - of which more tomorrow!

  3. On 23rd April I emailed Stagecoach West about a stop at the Racecourse station. So far only the "we've received your email" email reply.
    I get the impression that Gloucestershire County Council is as unenthusiastic about public transport as my home county of Northamptonshire. Comments from Gloucestershire residents welcome.