Sunday, 24 February 2013


Knutsford Town Council


At a recent meeting of the Knutsford Town Council a discussion was held on the council's input into the Draft Development Strategy for the town.
Cllr Andrew Malloy asked that a reference should be included in the council's recommendations to the need for the re-opening of the Middlewich Branch line to passengers as a way of providing direct rail services between Knutsford and Crewe and removing the need for Knutsford passengers (and travellers from other stations east of Northwich) to travel via Chester or Manchester to reach this important railway centre.
This was agreed by the council
Cllr Malloy is a keen supporter of the Middlewich scheme and recognises the advantages this revived route to Crewe will bring, not only to Middlewich but also to people living across a wide area of North and Mid-Cheshire and the North-west in general. 
In 2012 he urged readers of the Knutsford Guardian to add their signatures to Fiona Bruce's parliamentary petition calling for restoration of passenger services over the Middlewich line. A link to the story is below.



Anyone who has followed the history of the Middlewich Rail Link Campaign over the last 21 years as chronicled by local newspapers will have appreciated just what an up and down struggle it has been so far.
Since 1992 we've 'hit the buffers' on several occasions, been 'shunted into the sidings' more times than we care to mention, and more than once 'run out of steam' as the usual roller-coaster ride associated with any railway re-opening campaign brought alternate positive and negative messages.
According to one of our local papers we were even, at one point, and  rather alarmingly, 'run off the rails' after one attempt by some naysayer or other to discourage us.
But we have also had our periods of smooth running when we were 'given the green light' or some 'clear signals' to proceed, and it was a case of  Full Steam Ahead,.
This invariably led to us feeling 'chuffed'.
Cheshire East Council's ringing endorsement of the Middlewich Rail Link scheme is an important milestone for this campaign, for the very good reason that the council acts as the transport authority for this area and it is their responsibility to lead the process of getting the line re-opened.
A responsibility which they have now acknowledged and accepted in a very positive manner.
Below is a link to our very good friends at the Middlewich Guardian with a good news story about Cheshire East's involvement in getting Middlewich, if you'll pardon the expression, 'back on track'!

Dave Roberts

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


Middlewich Station 1959 - Salt Town Productions/Middlewich Rail Link Campaign


The Middlewich Rail Link Campaign has welcomed the news that the local transport authority, Cheshire East Council, has thrown its support behind plans to re-open the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich line to passengers and to build a new station in Middlewich.
Following a very successful meeting between MRLC members Stephen Dent and Cllr Mike Parsons and representatives of the council it emerged that Cheshire East is '100% behind the project' and would work together with our MP Fiona Bruce to try to obtain funding for the scheme from the new £20 million government grant scheme for new stations.
It was felt that this avenue was worth exploring, despite the fact that the Middlewich scheme is not 'shovel ready', to use the government's own phrase, because the Transport Minister has already had encouraging discussions with Fiona Bruce on the subject.
If money is not forthcoming from this source there are, of course, other funding opportunites to be considered and, to this end, Cheshire East is prepared to take the issue forward by arranging a meeting between Network Rail, the Railway Consultancy Ltd (authors of the 2009 report)and other interested parties.
The Cheshire East representatives showed enthusiasm for the 'potential for economic growth which the project would bring to the area through its logistical and strategic positioning' and would ensure that the scheme is endorsed within the Council's local transport plan. The council would also ask the Railway Consultancy to update the 2009 report to take account of recent developments including plans for the HS2 link which further strengthens the argument for our scheme.
Cheshire East has studied the 2009 report and concluded that the scheme is 'a very worthwhile project drawn up at a realistic cost'.
MRLC would like to place on record its thanks to Cheshire East Council for this very encouraging endorsement of the Middlewich scheme, and to Mike Parsons and Stephen Dent and everyone else who has worked so hard to get us to this stage.
Tireless Campaigners: Cllr Mike Parsons and Stephen Dent. Photo courtesy of Stephen Dent.

Dave Roberts,
Middlewich Rail Link Campaign

The site for the proposed new Middlewich Station. The Holmes Chapel Road bridge is on the right of the picture

Sunday, 10 February 2013


Photo: Mid-Cheshire Rail Partnership

Here's a link to an interesting video by Bob Brown which pays homage to that staple of 1950s BBC-TV, London to Brighton In Four Minutes.
Here we're travelling along what we like to think of as our 'parent line', the Manchester-Chester, or Mid-Cheshire, line at high speed and stopping to take a look at the myriad delights to be found in the towns the line serves.
Watch out as our high-speed Pacer leaves Northwich for a fleeting glimpse of the Middlewich line as it sweeps majestically in from the left on its way to Platform 3 at Northwich Station, the platform which will be used by future trains heading for Crewe via Middlewich.
The problem, to use the time-honoured expression, is that 'if you blink you'll miss it', so we've isolated a still from the film, which you can see above.
That's the Middlewich line on the extreme left, awaiting its days of re-awakened glory.
 As you can see, the current layout means that trains travelling to and from Middlewich, Sandbach and Crewe can only use the track on the extreme left which runs into the third platform at Northwich Station  before rejoining the main line East of Nortrhwich station. It's possible that when the line is re-opened the connections to and from the main up and down Manchester-Chester lines may be re-instated, to allow our trains to use any of the platforms.
On the right hand side, in the undergrowth on the railway embankment, can be seen the last vestiges of Sandbach Junction signal box, which used to control trains to and from the Middlewich line.
The Middlewich line is part of the 'Northwich triangle' and  there is another connection to the line a few yards further in the Chester direction which can take Middlewich trains onto the Mid-Cheshire line (and via another spur onto the West Coast Main Line) without them having to reverse in Northwich station.

Saturday, 9 February 2013


Here's a link to Cheshire East's Transport Plan for 2011-2015.


The Implementation Plan includes the following initiative (page 6, section 2): 

'Work with partners including Middlewich Town
Council to support the re-opening of the
to Northwich railway line to
passengers and seek funding opportunities to
take this scheme through the next
development stage.'

The Secretary of State for Transport has now, through Fiona Bruce MP, pointed out one such funding opportunity and on Tuesday 12th February MRLC representatives will be asking Cheshire East to follow it up as a matter of urgency.

Friday, 8 February 2013




Middlewich Rail Link Campaign members Stephen Dent and Councillor Mike Parsons will be meeting with Cheshire East Council on Tuesday (12th February) to urge the council to apply for funding for the Middlewich Rail Link scheme from the Government’s New Station Fund.
This follows a recommendation to Local MP Fiona Bruce from the Minister of State for Transport, Simon Burns, as reported in last week’s Middlewich Guardian (see link below).
Fiona Bruce has already asked the council to consider making an application for this money and Councillor Parsons and Stephen Dent will be pressing the case on Tuesday for an application to be submitted before the deadline on the 25th of February.
MRLC would like to correct a highly misleading statement from a Network Rail spokesman in the same report.
It is not true that proposals to re-open Middlewich Station have ‘already been examined by the rail industry but not progressed “due to the lack of a sufficient business case”’.
Our 2009 report, produced by respected rail experts the Rail Consultancy, has never been examined by Network Rail.
That organisation’s refusal to even consider reading the report without being paid a lot of money is precisely what is holding up this scheme, and has been for the last three years.
We would like to call on Network Rail to withdraw this misleading and potentially highly damaging statement, to read and carefully consider the 2009 report, and to do the job that it should be doing – helping to develop this country’s railway network and making it accessible to all.

Dave Roberts