The Anonymous Widower

What Train Is This?

I took these pictures of a train coming from Barnstaple to Exeter.

But what type if train is it?

The last picture shows it is Class 150 train built in the 1980s by British Rail.

It is certainly a high quality refurbishment of 150263.

I’d much rather travel in this train, than a new Class 700 train.


  • The seats were comfortable.
  • There were several tables in each car.
  • The toilet was one of the best I’ve seen.
  • The information system, tip-up seats and grab handles were all excellent.

The train even had it’s own wheelchair ramp stowed away in a secure metal cupboard.

I can’t find anything on the web about who did the refurbishment of this train.

My only thought, is that it was an in-house job and came from Laira with love!

The Truth About The Refurbishment

The August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has a long article entitled Great Western Improvement Imminent, where on page 75, this is said.

The Class 150/2s are going through a refurbishment and repaint at Wabtec’s Doncaster plant

If all the 137 trainsets end up like this no-one will complain.

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 13 Comments

Trains Between Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton

The trains work a triangular schedule with  Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton stations at the points and most cross-Exeter services calling at Exeter Central and Exeter St. Davids stations,

Current times in the afternoon timetable for the various legs are

  • Exeter St. Davids to Barnstaple – Minimum – 68 minutes – 6 stops
  • Exeter St. Davids to Barnstaple – Maximum – 77 minutes – 11 stops
  • Barnstaple to Exeter St. Davids – Minimum – 62 minutes – 6 stops
  • Barnstaple to Exeter St. Davids – Maximum – 76 minutes – 10 stops
  • Exeter St. Davids to Exmouth – Minimum – 29 minutes – 5 stops
  • Exeter St. Davids to Exmouth – Maximum – 34 minutes – 9 stops
  • Exmouth to Exeter St. Davids – Minimum – 26 minutes – 5 stops
  • Exmouth to Exeter St. Davids -Maximum –  34 minutes – 9 stops
  • Exeter St. Davids to Paignton – Minimum – 54 minutes – 8 stops
  • Exeter St. Davids to Paignton – Maximum – 62 minutes – 8 stops
  • Paignton to Exeter St. Davids – Minimum 48 minutes – 6 stops
  • Paignton to Exeter St. Davids – Maximum – 62 minutes – 8 stops

From the timetable, the timings seem all over the place.

But consider.

  • I was told that the trains aren’t very reliable and sometimes a Class 143 train turns up and struggles.
  • So timings are probably worked out for a Class 143 train, which is a Pacer.
  • Some trains skip several stops.
  • The Exmouth and Paignton legs seem to have better performance, but then the terrain is not so hilly.
  • Four-car trains are needed much of the time. At least platforms seem to be built for at least that length.

The people who devised the current timetable probably found it challenging.

It could probably be simplified, by more, better, faster and more powerful trains.

After I visited the Buxton Line I wrote Thoughts On The Buxton Line.

I said this.

The Buxton Line is very stiff for a railway in England. Wikipedia says this about the rolling stock.

Due to steep gradients on this line, Class 142 and Class 153 DMUs are banned from the section of line between Hazel Grove and Buxton. Therefore, services to Buxton are worked by Class 150 and Class 156 DMUs. Also Class 158 DMUs were once blocked from operating on the line to Buxton due to the possibility of the large roof-mounted air vents striking low bridges on the route.Piccadilly to Hazel Grove services used Class 323 electric multiple units up until 2008.

I went up in a Class 150 train and came down in a Class 156 train.

The Class 150 train definitely found the climb a struggle and it wasn’t even that full.

So why if Northern have stopped using Class 142 and Class 153 trains on steep hills, does it look like GWR are still doing it on the Tarka Line?

Probably, because it is all they’ve got!

If the electrification of the Great Western Railway had been going to the original schedule, the trains would have been replaced with some of the twenty two-car and sixteen three-car Class 165 trains or twenty-one three-car Class 166 trains, currently used between London and Reading.

Surely, these would be able to work as three or four car units on the lines out of Exeter!

As the trains are more powerful, perhaps they could work a faster and more passenger and operator friendly timetable.

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tarka Line

The Tarka Line is a branch line in Devon that runs up from Exeter St. Davids station to Barnstable station.

I went to Barnstaple in the rush hour in a packed three car train, consisting of a Class 150 and a Class 153 train working together, asw a three-car unit.

The lady next to me, said she lived in Bideford, so she had a drive from Barnstaple.

Coming back down, the train was almost empty, so I took a pit stop at Yeoford station in a local pub called the Mare and Foal, before catching the next train back to Exeter. That train was a refurbished Class 150 train, that I wrote about in What Train Is This?

These pictures show Yeoford station to give a flavour of the line.

The Link To The Dartmoor Railway

This Google Map shows the section of the Tarka Line North from Yeoford station, which is in the South East corner.

At the village of Penstone, the Dartmoor Railway breaks off to the West to go to Okehampton station.

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Yeoford station, this is said.

The Dartmoor Railway plan to reopen the disused platform at the station in order to create an interchange with the Tarka Line (and thus the national network). Through running from Yeoford to Okehampton was intended to commence in 2009 but this was delayed pending the finalising of transfer arrangements with Network Rail. Accordingly, the “Sunday Rover” service run by Great Western Railway again operated on Sundays throughout the summer of 2009, although not calling here. Though the GWR summer trains have continued to operate since (running again each summer from 2013-16), agreement over the use of Yeoford as an interchange has still not been reached and it is unclear as to when (or if) this will be possible.

If this does happen, it could be the first step in opening up a second East-West route across Devon.

This page on the Dartmoor Railway web site is entitled GWR Sunday service to Okehampton and gives details of the GWR Summer Sunday service.

Reopening the old LSWR route across Devon will be driven by the following.

  • New housing developments in the area.
  • Tourism
  • Creating employment.
  • Bringing quarried materials to construction distribution depots and sites by rail.
  • Creating a second route to Cornwall in case of disruption at Dawlish.

Murphy’s Law will of course apply and once the route is open, there will be no more disruption at Dawlish.

If the route is built, it will allow local trains to do a circular route from Exeter calling at the following stations in large towns.

  • Crediton
  • Okehampton
  • Tavistock
  • Plymouth
  • Newton Abbott

The route would give connections to branches to Axminster, Barnstaple, Exmouth, Gunnislake, Paignton and Tiverton.

Onward To Bideford

The Wikipedia entry for Bideford station says this.

Recently, the station was included on the ATOC Connecting Communities report, that recommends closed lines and stations that should have a railway station. The report suggests the reopening of the Barnstaple – Bideford railway line.

This Google Map shows the centre of the town of Bideford.

The old station was located at the site of the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre at the Eastern end of the Old Bideford Bridge.

So could the railway line between Barnstaple and Bideford be reopened?

This Google Map shows the other end of the line at Barnstaple.

The old railway line is now used as the South West Coastal Path.

I think with traditional technology, it will be unlikely that the railway is rebuilt, as walkers and others will rightly object to noisy diesel trains or electrification of any kind, disturbing the countryside.

But as I wrote in No-Frills Mini Trains Offer Route To Reopening Lines That Beeching Shut, engineers won’t give up in providing solutions for difficult to serve places.

I believe that within ten years, a silent battery-powered train, will be ghosting its way along a single track railway between Barstaple and Bideford, that is shared with walkers and cyclists.

Remember engineering is the science of the possible, whereas politics is all impossible dreams.



April 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Newcourt Station

Newcourt station is a new station on the Avocet Line that was opened in June 2015.

It is one of the simplest new stations I have seen.

  • A single platform about to take four-car trains.
  • A shelter for passengers.
  • Ticket machine.
  • Information display.

What surprised me was that the only parking is four disabled spaces.

As the station serves newly-built housing, I suspect that research has shown that most passengers will walk to the station.

It was certainly busy, when I passed through.

Handling The Next Generation Of Trains

The most modern train on order is the Aventra, which has been ordered by Crossrail, London Overground and Greater Anglia.

The smaller versions of these trains have the following characteristics.

  • Four or five cars.
  • Step-free platform-train access, if the platform is the right height.
  • Wide doors and lobbies for quick loading and unloading.
  • fast acceleration and powerful brakes.
  • Walk-through
  • Selective door opening.

I would expect trains from other manufacturers will have similar characteristics.

The platform at Newcourt station is 124 metres long, which should take most trains, but because of the selective door opening and the walk-through capability, passengers will not be too inconvenienced.

On the Avocet Line there are two trains per hour (tph), so Newcourt station should be able to handle the required four tph or one train in every fifteen minutes.

To help the driver more and more systems will appear that flag the precise speed and acceleration, so that a timetable is precisely kept.


April 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Between Exeter And Paignton

When I got to Paddington in the morning, I found that my 10:00 train to Exeter St. Davids was going on to finish its journey at the resort of Paignton.

So as I had a few minutes, I bought myself a Devon Day Ranger ticket, from the Ticket Office at Paddington. It cost me £6.60 and meant I could start my Devon expoloration without wasting time buying a ticket in the county.

I took these pictures of my trip to Paignton.

These are some thoughts on what I saw and did.


This Google Map shows Paignton station and the road I walked down to the sea-front.

I remember that when I came in 1966, I took an open-topped bus To Brixham and back. It was a new Leyland Atlantean and it doubled as a tourist bus and local transport. In the winter they put a top on the bus.

I wonder, if they still do the same in Torbay.

The Starcross And Exmouth Ferry

There is a ferry between Starcross station and Exmouth.

Edginswell Station

Wikipedia has an entry for a new Edginswell station.

This is said.

Edginswell railway station is a proposed station in the Edginswell area of Torquay, Devon. The station would be located on the Riviera Line between Newton Abbot and Torre stations. Edginswell will be the location of employment and housing development and the new station will support this development. The station would also serve Torbay Hospital, The Willows retail park and the Torquay Gateway development area.

Plans for the station are being developed by Network Rail and Devon County Council.

Sounds good!

The Dartmouth Steam Railway

Paignton station is also the terminus of the Dartmouth Steam Railway, which goes a distance of nearly seven miles to Kingswear station for a ferry to Dartmouth.

When I visited in 1966, it would have still been part of British Rail.

Mainline rail tours still run between the National Rail network and the Dartmouth Steam Railway to travel down to Kingswear.

Developing The Riviera Line

The whole railway from Exeter to Paignton via Newton Abbott is called the Riviera Line and after the blockage of Winter 2014 at Dawlish and the subsequent rebuilding, the difficult bits are probably in the best condition that engineers could achieve.

Trains along the line from Exeter to Paignton are approximately half-hourly, but I do wonder if from Newton Abbott to Paignton more trains could be run in perhaps the summer months or at weekends.

But surely this biggest plan is this listed under Plans, in the Wikipedia entry for the Riviera Line. This is said.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies identified Brixham as one of fourteen towns for which the provision of a new railway service would have a positive benefit-cost ratio. This would be an extension of the Great Western Railway service beyond Paignton to Churston station on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway, which would then act as a railhead for Brixham. It would also serve other housing developments in the area since the opening of the steam railway, and may require the doubling of that line between Paignton and Goodrington Sands.

This Google Map shows the Goodrington Sands and Churston stations in relation to Brixham and Berry Head.


The stations are on the Western edge of the map, with Goodrington Sands at the North.

The ATOC report was written in 2009 and since then railway technology and attitudes have moved on.

  • Signalling has improved, so mixing heritage services with schedule ones, isn’t as difficult as it used to be.
  • Health and Safety have now developed rules that are based on risk and are less draconian.
  • Train operating companies and heritage railways work together much better and realise that they’re all part of the same network and one company’s passenger is often another company’s too!

But the biggest development is trains that are used on the national network, that don’t look out of place on a heritage railway.

  • Paignton is served by InterCity 125 trains. Could these be extended to Churston, as perhaps a short four-car formation?
  • The unparalleled Mark 3 coach will soon be available in short rakes to be hauled by vintage diesel and steam locomotives.
  • Some of the older diesel multiple units like Class 150 trains, could become available.
  • There is also two rebuilt electro-diesel units; the Class 319 Flex and the Class 230.trains.
  • Battery train technology would also be a serious option.

Rolling stock will not be a problem.

I would think, that if there was a proper meeting in a local hostelry, that the outcome could be that there was a local service of four trains per hour between Goodrington Sands to Exeter.





April 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Labour Alienates The Jews And Drivers And Owners Of Diesel Vehicles

I come from mixed Jewish/Huguenot lines and my philosophy is probably humanist, although I’m a confirmed atheist.

But if I’m wrong, finding Heaven could be a bonus when I die!

This article on the BBC is entitled Labour ruling ‘fails Jewish community’, says Chief Rabbi.

Individuals, like Livingstone have no place in an inclusive political party.

This article on the BBC is entitled Date announced for London ultra low emission zone.

I am not against the ultra low emission zone, just the way that it is being brought in unilaterally in London.

We need ultra low emission zones all over the country and there is many things we can do.

  • Cross-city railways and trams.
  • More hybrid and electric buses when they are available at an affordable cost.
  • Park-and-ride facilities.
  • Trucks should be more environmentally and cyclist friendly.
  • Grants will probably be needed to scrap older diesel vehicles and invest in new trucks and buses.

The one thing that is right is to bring in the zone in 2019, which will be just after the Central London section of Crossrail has opened.

There needs to be measures from Central Government, but as ever, staying in power comes first.

I have a feeling that London’s ultra low emission zone will not be good for Sadiq Khan in London, as it’s going to cause inconvenience for many in London.



April 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pop Group That Saved A City With A Little Help From Their Friends

It is the fiftieth anniversary of the release of one of the best albums of all time; Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I bought the album and still have it somewhere.

But I don’t think most people understand how the Beatles changed a city completely.

Liverpool in the sixties had nasty undercurrents of violence and religious hatred. But  in the five years, I lived in the city, these changed for the better, with the rivalry being transferred to support for your favourite group or football team.

Liverpool acquired a belief that it could take on the world and win.

Now, when I go back regularly, I find a confident, bustling, modern and friendly city, that compares to any in the world.

But what would have happened if the Beatles hadn’t?

April 5, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment