Important: to understand the following article, please read Zing~The Incrdibly Light Railway, Part 1 and Part 2 first!
Case Study 1: Spalding to Boston.This section of the Lincolnshire Loop Line was a 58-mile (93 km) double track railway built by the Great Northern Railway, which linked Peterborough to Lincoln via Spalding and Boston. It was opened in 1848 and closed in 1970. Much of the track was built over for a new road so the new Zing line would have to run alongside this road.
DetailsImmediately to the north-east of Spalding station, partially occupied by a new road layout of the A151 (which could easily be altered) but mostly empty and unused land, is plenty of room for the southern terminus of the Spalding to Boston Zing. The plot extends north-eastwards to an area of largely unused land, bounded by the Splading-Sleaford railway to the west, the A151 to the south and Sandtone Gardens to the east, large enough to serve as a depot for the new line. Google Map.
At the crossing of the B1356 Pinchbeck Road, originally a level crossing, a new bridge taking the road over the railway is required. The route remains clear to Vernatts Drain, crossed by Sharps Bridge, see photo, and for some distance beyond but after crossing Enterprise Way (new road bridge required) the route passes through a new industrial estate. Two industrial units have been built across the route here: Google Map, and require removal. Another road bridge is required at the B1180 Wardentree Lane and then there is, just, room to thread the railway between two industrial units.
A station, 2km from Spalding station, at the north side of the industrial estate would be useful to workers on the estate and the village of Pinchbeck, 1km to the west.
North of the industrial estate another bridge takes the railway over the Blue Gowt Drain and the way is clear until meeting the A16. For 12 miles to Boston a new road was constructed in the mid 1990s, the longest rail to road conversion in the country. One might think that was that as regards railwas but, fence to fence, the land taken for road building was 35 to 40 metres wide. The carriageway occupies only the central 10 metres, leaving ample room for Zing alongside with few obstructions to Boston.
The Bridge over the River Glenn will need widening and on the north side the old Surfleet Station reinstated. It closed in 1961 but the road to the west is still appropriately named Station Road.
A significant challenge is the Sutterton roundabout where the A16 is crossed by the A17. The solution may require re-shaping the roundabout with the western exits rising over the railway. Just to the north the site of Algarkirk and Sutterton Station, closed in 1961, is still vacant but with the former station building remaining intact, awaiting its reinstatement.
The Next station is Kirton; its history recounted here. Here were once extensive sidings but they have been built over with new housing but space remains for a new station on the north side of the A16.
On the old line there were no stations between Kirton and Boston, but with the growth in housing a new station is justified 3km north-east of Kirton at Wyberton. Another station on the south side of the Forty Foot Drain on what is now the dead end of Wyberton West Road would serve the residential areas of Skirbeck Quarter that have developed since the Victorians planned their railway.
A new bridge across the South Forty Foot, running along the west side of the road bridge, would need to be constructed. This is the most significant piece of engineering that is required to connect Spalding and Boston with an ultra-light railway.
Across the bridge and Zing joins the very occasionally used single track line into Boston Docks and then the railway from Sleaford into Boston Station. That line only uses a single track so there is plenty of space for the new track into the station. There would be some redesign of the track and platform layout to keep Zing separate from the standard size trains running from Sleaford to Skegness. Alternatively, the line from Sleaford to Skegness could be converted to ultra-light running too. The advantages in speed, frequency, increased number of stations, energy consumption, track maintenance and other running costs, combine to make conversion of many branch lines on the still existing network, worthwhile.
The opportunity for passengers to travel from Boston station to Skirbeck, Wyberton and Kirton in a very few minutes and then on to Spalding would be so welcome that much of the traffic congestion that Boston has become notorious for would be relieved. Only two small recently built industrial building would need removal, with no residential homes requiring demolition and almost no private land acquisition needed.
We need to envision the transport systems of a post-carbon world. If we don't greatly increase the rail network then we need to convert all the cars and buses to electric. That's imaginable, but the argument is that in a resource constrained economy the ultra-light railways are a cheaper alternative. As with petrol cars, so with electric cars, once you have one and paid the capital costs, it's often cheaper and easier to use it than use public transport. The trick is to shift the balance in favour of public transport by creating a network of sufficient density, frequency, reliability and speed so that it's worthwhile foregoing the freedom and convenience of a private car.