Marston Vale line

The Marston Vale line (Network Rail route MD 140) is the community rail line between Bletchley and Bedford in England, formerly part of the "Varsity line" between Oxford and Cambridge.

Marston Vale line
Two diesel trains pass each other in Ridgmont station
London Midland diesel multiple units 153346 (left) and 150105 pass at Ridgmont railway station in Bedfordshire
Overview
TypeHeavy rail
SystemNational Rail
StatusOperational
LocaleBuckinghamshire
Bedfordshire
South East England
East of England
TerminiBedford
Bletchley
Stations12
Operation
OwnerNetwork Rail
Operator(s)West Midlands Trains
Rolling stockBritish Rail Class 230
Technical
Line length~24 mi (39 km)
Number of tracks1–2
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

History

The line was opened in 1846 by the London and Birmingham Railway, though the L&B merged with the Grand Junction Railway to become the London and North Western Railway whilst construction was ongoing – the LNWR ran it from its opening.[1] The line later became part of the cross-country Varsity line from Oxford Rewley Road to Cambridge (opened in stages between 1854 and 1862). Much of the line was built on land owned by the 7th Duke of Bedford, who supported the line but insisted that any station on his estate (Fenny Stratford, Woburn Sands, Ridgmont and Millbrook) be constructed in half-timbered style.[2]

The line was threatened in the late 1950s and again in 1964 – though the Bletchley to Oxford and Bedford to Cambridge sections succumbed in December 1967, the Bletchley to Bedford section survived.[1]

In 1977 the Parliamentary Select Committee on Nationalised Industries recommended that electrification of more of Britain's rail network be considered.[3] By 1979 British Rail presented a range of options to do so by 2000,[4] some of which included the Marston Vale line.[5] The proposal was not implemented.

Silverlink operated the line from privatisation in 1996 until 2007. Services were initially in the hands of a mixture of heritage slam-door diesel multiple units formed of 2-car Class 117 and single-car Class 121 units until replacement with Class 150/1 trains inherited from Central Trains.

London Midland took over in 2007 until 9/12/2017. They used a mixture of Class 150/1 and Class 153 multiple units, inherited from Silverlink.

On 10 December 2017, West Midlands Trains took over the franchise, staff and rolling stock, operating as London Northwestern Railway.

Operation

The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 18, SRS 18.12 and is classified as a rural line.[6]

Passenger services are operated by West Midlands Trains, using Class 153 single-car diesel multiple units and two-car class 230 unit. An hourly service operates in each direction Monday–Saturday.

It is one of a number of British Railways that is covered by a Community Rail Partnership, in this case known as the Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership. Like other Community Rail Partnerships around the country, the Partnership aims to increase use of the line by getting local people involved with their local line. They do this by various means, such as holding community events, running special train services, and publicising the line locally.

From December 2018, West Midlands Trains were to introduce Class 230 D-Trains, built by Vivarail, onto the route, replacing the current trains,[7] but the introduction was delayed[8] until going into service on 23 April 2019.[9]

Infrastructure

Apart from a short length of single track at both ends, the line is double track, and is not electrified (barring short lengths at either end). It has a loading gauge of W8 and a line speed of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h).[6] The line's signalling centre is at Ridgmont.

Proposed developments

East West Rail

The Marston Vale line is one of the two remaining sections of the Varsity line still in passenger use.[10] The programme to reinstate the entire Oxford-Cambridge line is described at East West Rail.

Extension to Milton Keynes Central

In June 2005, the then franchisee, Silverlink Trains announced an intention to extend the Marston Vale service via the West Coast Main Line to Milton Keynes Central, where a new platform and track would be built alongside the up slow track. Work began on 4 December 2006 at the station to prepare for a service connection.[11][12] The platform was ready for use in January 2009 but the service did not materialise and there are no longer any published plans for it to do so. The service pattern on East West Rail remains to be announced; specifically whether there will be an explicit Bedford–Milton Keynes Central service or whether passengers will continue to have to change at Bletchley. There is no east-to-north chord between this line and the WCML: the route the chord might take is currently[a] occupied by trade outlets and a warehouse.[b]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Bedford Railway"Disused Stations Site Record; Retrieved 7 September 2016
  2. ^ Wade-Matthews, Max (2000). Classic Railway Journeys of the West. London: Lorenz Books. pp. 82–83. ISBN 0-7548-0624-3.
  3. ^ Central Publicity Unit 1979, p. 0.
  4. ^ Central Publicity Unit 1979, p. 2.
  5. ^ Central Publicity Unit 1979, p. 8.
  6. ^ a b "Route 18 – West Coast Main Line" (PDF). Network Rail. 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  7. ^ "New Marston Vale livery revealed as contract for new trains is signed". 22 August 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Vivarail official statement – Marston Vale line". Vivarail. 30 October 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  9. ^ "First Class 230 begins passenger services between Bletchley and Bedford". West Midlands Trains. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  10. ^ "East West Rail Grip Stage 2 Report, Section 5.1" (PDF). p. 38. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 September 2008.
  11. ^ "UK transport news, data and jobs". Transport Briefing. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007.
  12. ^ "New Rail Platform on Time for 2008". Milton Keynes News. 6 December 2006.
  1. ^ as of May 2019
  2. ^ on Third Avenue and James Way, Denbigh West

Sources

External links

Coordinates: 52°01′21″N 0°36′53″W / 52.02249°N 0.61478°W

Aspley Guise railway station

Aspley Guise railway station serves the village of Aspley Guise in Bedfordshire, England. It is on the Bletchley – Bedford Marston Vale Line.

The station is served by West Midlands Trains local services, operating as London Northwestern Railway, using Class 230/1 diesel multiple-unit trains.

Bedford St Johns railway station

Bedford St Johns is the smaller of two railway stations in Bedford in Bedfordshire, England, on the Marston Vale Line linking Bletchley and Bedford. It is unstaffed and is operated by London Northwestern Railway.

St Johns was Bedford's first station, on the Oxford to Cambridge line. Its role diminished following the closure of that line, leaving it with a truncated route to Bletchley. British Rail closed the original station on 14 May 1984 and diverted services from Bletchley along a new chord line to Bedford Midland station when a new single platform halt was opened.

Bedford railway station

Bedford railway station (formerly Bedford Midland Road) is the larger of two railway stations in the town of Bedford in Bedfordshire, England. It is on the Midland main line from London St Pancras to the East Midlands and the terminus of the Marston Vale line from Bletchley through Bedford St Johns.

Bletchley TMD

Bletchley TMD is a railway traction maintenance depot situated in Bletchley, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, to the north east of Bletchley railway station, on a siding off the Marston Vale line. The depot is operated by London Northwestern Railway. The depot code is BY but, in steam days, the shed code was 1E.

Bletchley railway station

Bletchley is a railway station that serves the southern parts of Milton Keynes, England (especially Bletchley itself), and the north-eastern parts of the Buckinghamshire district of Aylesbury Vale. It is 47 miles (75 km) northwest of Euston, about 32 miles (51 km) east of Oxford and 17 miles (27 km) west of Bedford.

It includes junctions of the West Coast Main Line with the Bletchley-Bedford Marston Vale Line and the disused Bletchley-Oxford Varsity line.

This is one of the six railway stations serving the Milton Keynes urban area.It is the nearest main line station for Bletchley Park, the World War II codebreaking centre, and also serves Stadium MK, the home of Milton Keynes Dons F.C., at present a 30-minute walk. Fenny Stratford station, on the Marston Vale Line (a limited service branch line) is closer.

Bow Brickhill

Bow Brickhill is a village and civil parish in the Borough of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. It is a short distance south east of Milton Keynes itself.

The village name is a combination of Brythonic and Old English words for 'hill' (Brythonic: breg, Anglo Saxon hyll). The prefix 'Bow' comes from an Anglo Saxon personal name, Bolla. The various names of the village given in historic records were Brichelle (11th century); Brichull (12th century); Bolle Brichulle, Bellebrikhulle (13th century)., Bolbrykhull Bolbryghyll (15th century, 1418)The Church of England parish church of All Saints stands apart from the rest of the village, on the side of a steep hill. The church probably dates from the 12th century but heavy remodelling in the 15th century obliterated most of the earlier details. The church was extensively restored by Browne Willis in 1757.The hymn tune Bow Brickhill by Sydney Nicholson was composed in honour of All Saints' parish church, after Nicholson and his choristers from Westminster Abbey performed there in 1923.

Bow Brickhill railway station, about 0.5 miles (800 m) west of the village, is on the Marston Vale Line that links Bletchley and Bedford.

Bow Brickhill railway station

Bow Brickhill railway station is a railway station that serves the village of Bow Brickhill in the Borough of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, and the Caldecotte, Tilbrook and Walton areas of south-east Milton Keynes itself. It is on the Bletchley — Bedford Marston Vale Line, about 2 miles (3.25 km) east of Bletchley.

The station is served by London Northwestern Railway local services from Bletchley to Bedford. Services are operated using Class 150/1 and Class 153 diesel multiple units. This station is one of the five stations serving the Milton Keynes urban area.

British Rail Class 230

The British Rail Class 230 or D-train is a diesel electric multiple unit or battery EMU built by rolling stock manufacturer Vivarail for the British rail network. The units are converted from London Underground D78 Stock, originally manufactured during 1980 by Metro Cammell. The conversion re-uses the D78's aluminium bodyshells with refurbished interiors, the traction motors and bogies, and replaces the four-rail traction-current system with a diesel-generator or battery-packs.

The type has been assigned the designation of Class 230 under TOPS.During August 2016, a prototype was produced for testing and accreditation; the type was planned to be prepared to enter passenger service during the following year. During July 2016, it was announced that the prototype was to be tested in mainline service on the Coventry to Nuneaton Line over a 12-month period with operator London Midland; however, this trial deployment had to be postponed after the prototype was damaged by a fire and could not be repaired quickly enough. It is proposed to run 75 units of two or three cars per unit. During October 2017, West Midlands Trains announced that it would procure three 2-car D-Trains for the Marston Vale line. and the first unit entered service in April 2019.

Fenny Stratford railway station

Fenny Stratford is a railway station that serves the Fenny Stratford area of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. It is on the Marston Vale Line that links Bletchley and Bedford, about one mile (1.7 km) east of Bletchley railway station.

This station is one of five serving Milton Keynes. The others are Wolverton, Milton Keynes Central, Bletchley and Bow Brickhill.

Kempston Hardwick

Kempston Hardwick is a small village on the edge of the town of Kempston in Bedfordshire, England. Historically it was one of the hamlets or "ends" scattered across the parish of Kempston. It is served by Kempston Hardwick railway station on the Marston Vale Line, which was one of the least-used stations in the UK railway network.For many years Kempston Hardwick was technically part of Kempston town. This is a consequence of the division of the old larger Kempston parish in 1896 into Kempston town and Kempston Rural. However, modern boundary changes have meant that Kempston Hardwick is now part of the rural parish of Stewartby(where the 2011 Census population was included).

Lidlington railway station

Lidlington railway station serves the village of Lidlington in Bedfordshire, England. The station's two platforms once faced each other, either side of the double tracks. This has since been modified to have staggered platforms either side of the level crossing in order to reduce the time the barriers spend down.

The former station building is now a private home.

Marston Moreteyne

Marston Moreteyne (or Marston Moretaine) is a large village and civil parish located on the A421 between Bedford and Milton Keynes. It has a population of 4,560, and is served by Millbrook railway station, which is about a mile away, on the Marston Vale Line. The population at the 2011 Census had decreased marginally to 4,556.On the outskirts of the village sits the Forest Centre and Millennium Country Park in the heart of the Forest of Marston Vale. The village now has several shops, post office, Co-op stores, Ingle and Caves Family Butchers, one public house (The Bell), fish & chip shops, doctor's surgery, an Indian restaurant and two Lower schools, across the main village and the adjoining hamlets of Upper Shelton, Lower Shelton and Wood End along with a small local art gallery/dealer: New Urban Art.

Sir Thomas Snagge lived in the village in the 16th century. He owned the manor of Marston Moreteyne.

Millbrook, Bedfordshire

Millbrook is a small village and civil parish near Bedford, England. It has a population of 130, increasing to 147 at the 2011 Census. Millbrook railway station, on the Marston Vale Line is about two miles (3 km) from the village. The parish church, dedicated to St Michael and All Angels, is Grade II* listed.The vale adjoining Millbrook is reputed to be the location that inspired the 'Slough of Despond' in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.

Millbrook is also home to the Millbrook Proving Ground and The Millbrook Golf Club.

Millbrook railway station (Bedfordshire)

Millbrook railway station serves the villages of Millbrook and Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire, England. It is on the Marston Vale Line, between Stewartby and Lidlington. Millbrook is also the principal stop for the Marston Vale Millennium Country Park.

Ridgmont railway station

Ridgmont railway station is a small unstaffed railway station that serves the villages of Ridgmont in Bedfordshire (about 1 mile (2 km) away on the other side of the M1 Motorway at Junction 13), Brogborough and Husborne Crawley. It also serves the large Amazon.com warehouse next door.

It is on the Bletchley — Bedford Marston Vale Line.

Shakespeare's Way

Shakespeare's Way is a waymarked long-distance footpath in southern England, United Kingdom.

Silverlink

Silverlink was a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by National Express that operated the North London Railways franchise from March 1997 until November 2007. At the end of 2007 Silverlink Metro services were taken over by London Overground and Silverlink County services were taken over by London Midland.

Stewartby railway station

Stewartby railway station is a station on the London Northwestern Railway, which serves the Bedfordshire village of Stewartby in England. It is the nearest station to the Marston Vale Millennium Country Park.

Woburn Sands railway station

Woburn Sands railway station serves the villages of Woburn Sands and Wavendon in the borough of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, England. The station is on the Marston Vale line between Bedford and Bletchley, about 4 miles (6.5 km) east of Bletchley station. The station is served by local trains to Bletchley and Bedford using Class 150/1 and Class 153 diesel multiple units operated by London Northwestern Railway.

Marston Vale line
Varsity Line
to Bicester Village
Swanbourne Siding
West Coast Main Line
to Euston
0 mi 04 ch
0.08 km
Bletchley
West Coast Main Line
to Milton Keynes Central
1 mi 05 ch
1.71 km
Fenny Stratford
2 mi 05 ch
3.32 km
Bow Brickhill
4 mi 08 ch
6.6 km
Woburn Sands
5 mi 04 ch
8.13 km
Aspley Guise
6 mi 59 ch
10.84 km
Ridgmont
8 mi 49 ch
13.86 km
Lidlington
10 mi 05 ch
16.19 km
Millbrook
11 mi 17 ch
18.04 km
Stewartby
12 mi 76 ch
20.84 km
Kempston Hardwick
Midland Main Line
to St Pancras International
16 mi 05 ch
25.85 km
Bedford St Johns
Bedford–Hitchin line
to Hitchin
Bedford St Johns
(former)
16 mi 55 ch
26.86 km
Bedford
Varsity Line
to Cambridge
Midland Main Line
to Leicester
Stations in and around Milton Keynes
Roade
Salcey Forest
Castlethorpe
Olney
towards Bedford
Deanshanger
Old Stratford
Stony Stratford
Newport Pagnell
Wolverton Works
Great Linford
Wolverton
Bradwell
East West Rail /
Marston Vale line
to Bedford
Woburn Sands
Bow Brickhill
Milton Keynes Central
Fenny Stratford
Denbigh Hall
Bletchley TMD
Bletchley
former Varsity Line /
planned East West Rail
to
Oxford
Leighton Buzzard
Railways in Bedfordshire
Brixworth
Wellingborough
Ditchford
Spratton
Wellingborough London Road
Pitsford and Brampton
Rushden
Boughton
Higham Ferrers
Irchester
Castle Ashby & Earls Barton
Northampton
Northampton St. John's Street
Billing
Northampton Bridge Street
West Coast Main Line
to Rugby via Stowe Hill tunnel
Blisworth
Geismar Depot
Roade
Sharnbrook Tunnel
Tiffield
Piddington
Stoke Bruern
Salcey Forest
Towcester
Olney
Sharnbrook
Turvey
Castlethorpe
Oakley
Newport Pagnell
Great Linford
Bradwell
Varsity Line
to Cambridge
Wolverton
Wolverton and Stony Stratford Tramway
Sandy
Stony Stratford
Girtford Halt
Old Stratford
East Coast Main Line
to Hitchin & London King's Cross
Deanshanger
Milton Keynes Central
Bedford Gas Company
Bedford
Blunham
Willington
Bedford St Johns
Kempston and Elstow Halt
Bedford St Johns
(former)
Kempston Hardwick
Lafarge Stone Terminal
Wootton Broadmead Halt
Forders (Stewartby)
Wixams
Stewartby
Millbrook
Cardington
Lidlington
Ampthill
Ridgmont
Southill
Husborne Crawley Halt
Flitwick
Aspley Guise
Shefford
Woburn Sands
Harlington
Bow Brickhill
Henlow Camp
Fenny Stratford
Leagrave
Bletchley
Newton Longville
Newton Longville landfill site
Stations around Bedford
Bedford
Bedford station sidings
Bedford St Johns
Bedford St Johns
(former)
Marston Vale line
Primary
Secondary
Heritage
Non-passenger/
Defunct
Primary
Secondary
Others
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Air
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