Cranleigh Railway Line:
The Guildford and Horsham Direct Railway. ~ 1865 to 1965
Cranleigh Station Totem

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About Cranleigh Railway Station About Cranleigh Railway Station
Maps of the Cranleigh Railway Line Maps of the Cranleigh Railway Line
Cranleigh Railway Line History Cranleigh Railway Line History
Cranleigh Railway Line Photos - Then & Now Cranleigh Railway Line Photos - Then & Now
Re-Opening the Cranleigh Railway Line Re-Opening the Cranleigh Railway Line
Cranleigh Railway Line Ephemera Cranleigh Railway Line Ephemera
Cranleigh Railway Line Rolling Stock Cranleigh Railway Line Rolling Stock
Articles about the Cranleigh Railway Line Articles about the Cranleigh Railway Line
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Waverley fact sheet 2: Re-opening of the Guildford to Cranleigh Railway Line
Surrey Advertiser 6th June 1997
Surrey Advertiser 13th June 1997
Railwatch Magazine - Rails to Cranleigh
Waverley Borough Council Planning Policy
ATOC Connecting Communities Report - June 2009

Waverley fact sheet 2: Re-opening of the Guildford to Cranleigh Railway Line

In 1994, Surrey County Council commissioned a study to look into rail improvements in the County and in particular, at the South West Trains operating area which includes Waverley Borough.

The aim of the study, carried out by Colin Buchanan and Partners was to identify worthwhile new services and improvements which could be made to the rail infrastructure in Surrey to allow new or revised services to be introduced. The aims of the report were:
• to relieve pressure on the highway network
• to improve the modal share of rail services
• to encourage the use of rail services as part of a balanced transport system

The study included a range of options to make use of existing, upgraded, reopened or new infrastructure and included a series of short, medium and long term proposals.

Brief History of the Guildford to Cranleigh Railway Line
The original Guildford to Horsham via Cranleigh line was opened in 1865 by London Brighton and South Coast Railway. It was a single track railway with passing loops. The line was never very profitable and the 1963 ‘Reshaping of British Railways’ report indicated a flow of under 5,000 passengers per week. As a result the Guildford to Cranleigh line was closed in 1965. Since that time, Cranleigh’s population has grown considerably, although it has now stabilised, and this therefore justifies investigation into its re-opening.

The Buchanan Report
The study estimated that some 500 people would transfer from car to rail per 12 hour day. This figure did not take into account the additional new trips which might be generated or trips diverted from public transport which could be significant. A cost of £24 million was estimated for the base, civil, electrical and signal engineering works. It did not include land acquisition, legal costs and bridge works. As an example, an additional £750,000 was estimated to replace the missing bridge across the Wey.

In the study preliminary economic analysis suggested that the reopening of the line would not be feasible. The first year income was estimated at only 3% of the capital cost, even without taking into account operating costs. British Rail traditionally require an 8% return to justify investment.

The County Council wished to consider the level of support for the idea before going towards the next stage of commissioning a more detailed analysis and full economic investigation.

The above costing was based on the traditional ‘heavy’ rail specification. Waverley Members requested that further investigations be made into alternative forms of rail provision, such as light rail or a tramway system. They also took into account that consideration would have to be given to the fact that the former track is now a long distance footpath and bridleway and gave support to the commissioning of a more detailed report.

Feasibility Study for Route Enhancement
British Rail Projects carried out Stage 1 of a two part detailed study into the technical feasibility and potential for line reinstatement for Railtrack during early 1996. This time, the cost of the scheme was estimated to be considerably less than originally anticipated, heavy rail at some £13.4 (+- 50%) if electrified and £11.1 m (+- 50%) for diesel operation. LRT (light rail) is estimated at £14.1 m (+- 50%). This is based on having a single track and an hourly service.

This is a very detailed report, and includes many photographs and other considerations. You may come into the Planning and Development Department to look at it and take notes. However, it is very large and copies cannot be made.
Approval for carrying out stage two of the study was given by the County Council’s Transportation Planning Joint Sub-Committee as well as the Waverley Partnership Area Transportation Planning Sub-Committee (PATS) and Guildford PATS. Support to going on to the next stage was also given by Waverleys Planning and Development Committee and Environment and Leisure Committees. This looked in detail at the economic and environmental aspects of the proposal, such as how many people would use the new service.

PATS is made up from both Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough councillors. Waverley PATS gave a ‘cautious welcome’ to the report, but did accept the recommendation to proceed with a thorough ‘business assessment’ of the proposal asking that the views of the relevant parish councils as well as Guildford Borough Council be sought. They were concerned about a number of issues, including:

• potential pressures for major development in Cranleigh
• whether the proposed I hourly service would be attractive enough to provide a viable service
• consider the impact on viability of existing bus routes
• consider a park and ride alternative
• demands for further car parking at Bramley and Cranleigh
• consider more fully options other than heavy rail
• light rail options going further into Guildford should be considered

These and other considerations were taken into account in the second part of the study

The outcome of the second part of the study was reported to the Waverley PATS on 3rd June 1997.

In the study, two scenarios were considered: either a hourly service or a half hourly service between Cranleigh and Guildford. The journey time would be 12 minutes compared to at least 25 minutes by car during the morning peak.

The Research
The technique adopted was to focus on the residents of Cranleigh, Bramley and Wonersh:
• to distribute and analyse approximately 4000 postal travel diaries;
• to undertake 200 in depth face to face stated preference interviews with residents in the catchment area;
• to distribute 3835 questionnaires (887 replies received 23%)

The research found that only 12% of trips made from the area were to Guildford or London, with 60% of the trips made to other parts of Surrey, many of which would not be accessed by reopening the line.

The main result of the research was that, despite the high levels of car use, the amount of trips transferring to rail would be very low. Few car users travelling during the interpeak would transfer to the new rail services, but many bus users would transfer; in fact between 8 and 9 times more bus users would convert to to use the rail than car users.

The Business Case
The total cost of the work would be £14.24 million. As a result of the research, it is estimated that the line would not recoup its total costs. Running costs include staff, maintenance of the two stations, track charges, leasing stations and trains. One of the major drawbacks is the cost of leasing additional trains, but even if this were not the case the services would still not make enough money to recoup the total costs. If the capital costs of building the line did not have to be repaid, then the line would make a profit after 4 years (with one train an hour) or in 15 years with 2 trains an hour. It would require substantial capital investment from the public sector in order to progress and as this is not likely to be forthcoming the end result is a negative business case.

Environmental Implications
The main environmental issues are change to the local landscape, noise effects and the impact on the Downs Link. These matters were discussed in the earlier Borough reports. Phase 2 of the study has not taken these issues much further, other than to say that if the proposal were to proceed then an environmental assessment of the more detailed designs would be necessary.

The Views of PATS
The general view of the PATS Committee was that since no business case could be made, there was no basis for continuing investigation of the proposal, but the route should be protected from development.

The PATS Committee resolved that:
(a) the current and future importance of the future rail route be recognised as a transport link and be protected through the statutory planning process;

(b) the views of Waverley and Guildford Boroughs be sought and reported to the Transportation Sub Committee of the County Council; and

(c) further work should cease on the proposal to reopen the Guildford to Cranleigh rail line as a heavy rail link.

It was recommended that:
1. the County Council be advised that the Borough Council accepts the outcome of the research that the re-opening of the rail link between Guildford and Cranleigh is not economically viable and does not wish work on the proposal to proceed any further; and

2. the current and future importance of the route of the former Guildford to Cranleigh railway be recognised as an important movement corridor and that it be protected through the statutory planning process.

This fact sheet can be found on the Waverly Borough Council Web Site at: