There have been a number of developments of community railway expansion recently. Two should be noticed as they have just achieved connections to the national network. One is based in the Midlands and the other is based in Southern England. They are the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, who have just opened a new station adjacent to the national network at Duffield, and the Spa Valley Railway who have opened up services to Eridge station. Both lines now offer onward connections that connect in with national railway services. The connections should benefit both lines by opening up new journey opportunities for people to visit the hinterland served by each of the lines.
For the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway there has been 11 years of effort to get to the fully re-opened railway whilst the Spa Valley line has now re-opened a line that British Rail shut down in 1985; it started to make progress in 1994 after a loan was made from the local council. There are once again two ways to Tunbridge Wells! Both lines appear on openstreetmap too. The two schemes rely on local fund raising and share capital to ensure that they develop for the future. Both lines pass through fine countryside and the Ecclesbourne line has the advantage of being on the edge of the Peak District National Park.
The Spa Valley passes through some fine Weald countryside with views of craggy outcrops: High Rocks and Harrison’s Rocks. Both railways have created their own maps of their routes and these are illustrated below (both are copyright of the respective railways).
The two sets of mapping offer different approaches: the Spa Valley map shows more of the surrounding area whereas the Ecclesbourne map is very much a route plan that shows railway features such as station and bridges but hints at a wider area with the inclusion of Carsington Water. Rivers feature on both and roads are limited to the context of around the railway. Interesting very specific features appear on the Spa Valley map: rocky outcrops, The Enchanted Forest and Tunbridge Wells’ historic colonnaded pedestrian walkways, The Pantiles. Both maps give a visitor a brief, artistic and uncluttered overview although offer little practical help when exploring the area on foot for example. The Ecclesbourne map is the most artistic and perhaps less utilitarian: how far is that station from the town in Wirksworth one wonders?!
These lines offer their communities a sustainable option for the future. Both lines have many great plans for development so keep watching to see them develop.