The Anonymous Widower

Reinstating The Line Between Tavistock And Bere Alston And Providing New Services To And From Plymouth

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reinstating.

This project finally seems to be getting going.

The complete reinstatement between Exeter and Plymouth seems to be developing into a three-phase project.

  • Phase 1 – Exeter and Okehampton – This is now complete and trains are test running, with services due to start on the 20th November.
  • Phase 2 – Tavistock And Bere Alston – This section is being planned and if approved could be the next section to be opened.
  • Phase 3 – Tavistock and Okehampton – This would complete the reinstatement of the route between Exeter and Plymouth.

These are my thoughts.

The Completion Of Phase 1

Trains are now test running to between Exeter and Okehampton.

The full service starts on the 20th November.

  • On that day, there will be eight trains per day (tpd) in both directions.
  • Trains will leave Exeter at 06:32, 08:41, 10:36, 12:37, 14:38, 16:36, 18:48 and 21:00.
  • Trains will leave Okehampton at 07:39, 09:45, 11:39, 13:39, 15:39, 17:46, 19:51 and 22:34.
  • Trains are times to take around forty minutes for each trip.
  • The service is pathed as a Class 150/153/155/156 DMU
  • The service is planned for a maximum speed of 75 mph.

Note.

  1. This is approximately one train per two hours (tp2h).
  2. It looks like the service could be worked by a single train shuttling all day.

The Wikipedia entry for Okehampton station says this.

The service will increase to hourly towards the end of 2022.

It has been a very smooth restoration of service.

Okehampton Parkway Station

Okehampton Parkway station is to be built to the East of Okehampton at Stockley Hamlet.

It looks like it could be a very useful Park-and-Ride station for Exeter and Okehampton.

Could The Okehampton Stations Be Used To By-Pass Dawlish?

In 2014, the sea breached the sea wall and the railway at Dawlish, on the Great Western Main Line between Exeter and Plymouth. Trains couldn’t run past Exeter.

I very much feel that with global warming and seemingly increasingly bad weather that we can’t say that a breach won’t happen again.

Could it be possible to use the one of the Okehampton stations, as a terminal for a Rail Replacement service that connected to Plymouth and Cornwall?

The Gap Between Okehampton And Bere Alston

This Google Map shows the gap between Okehampton and Bere Alston stations.

Note.

  1. Okehampton is at the top of the map between the three green rectangles which mark the main roads.
  2. Bere Alston is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Tavistock is North of Bere Alston.
  4. The three places are connected by the A 386 road.

Is there a bus between Okehampton and Bere Alston, that serves Tavistock and the major villages?

Phase 2 – Tavistock And Bere Alston

This Google Map shows between Tavistock and Beer Alston station.

Note.

  1. Tavistock is in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Bere Alston  is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. I estimate that about six miles of new track will have to be laid.

This Google Map shows Bere Alston station, which is to the North-West of the village.

Note.

  1. Bere Alston station is on the Tamar Valley Line.
  2. The Tamar Valley Line is all single-track.
  3. Trains to and from Gunnislake station use the Northbound track at the junction to the West of the station.
  4. Trains to and from Plymouth use the Southbound track at the junction to the West of the station.
  5. Trains between Gunnislake and Plymouth reverse at Bere Alston station.

It would appear that the route to Tavistock continued to the East.

This Google Map clearly shows the route of the disused railway as it runs North-East from Bere Alston station.

Note.

Bere Alston station is the South-West corner of the map.

The dark green line of the railway runs to the North-East corner of the map.

As all the railways in the area seem to have been single-track, I would suspect that any rebuilt railway on this route will be single track.

I have followed the dark green line through to Tavistock which is shown in this Google Map.

As the Department of Transport are prepared to finance a study for reinstatement of the route, I would suspect that there is a feasible route between Bere Alston and Tavistock.

  • There would appear to be no bridges or viaducts between Bere Alston and the outskirts of Tavistock.
  • Before closure, there no stations between Bere Alston and Tavistock North stations.
  • Bere Alston station would need to be rebuilt.

The Wikipedia entry for Tavistock North station, says this about the condition of the line.

The station building has been restored and converted into three self-catering cottages. The stationmaster’s house is being restored as a private dwelling, while the goods yard, now known as Kilworthy Park, houses the offices of West Devon Borough Council. The track bed for about one mile (1.6 km) south of Tavistock North station is open to the public as a footpath and nature reserve, and it is possible to walk across the viaducts that overlook the town.

The rest of the track bed south of Tavistock is almost intact to Bere Alston, where it joins the present-day Tamar Valley Line. There has been discussion regarding the re-opening of a rail link for a number of years. Engineering assessment has shown that the track bed, and structures such as bridges and tunnels, are in sound condition.

I can foresee some problems, in what might not be one of the most challenging of projects.

  • Claiming back the railway from the walkers and cyclists.
  • The ownership of the stationmaster’s house.

Unlike Scotland, England didn’t make sure that rail routes could be converted back to railways if needed.

My project management knowledge leads me to agree with what appears to be a decision to do this part of the route next.

Phase 3 – Okehampton And Tavistock

The title of this project as given in the Railway Gazette article is as follows.

Reinstating The Line Between Tavistock And Bere Alston And Providing New Services To And From Plymouth

If you read this literally, it doesn’t mention anything about connecting to Okehampton and Exeter.

  • Looking at maps and reading up on the line, it does appear that the route may be more challenging.
  • The route also contains the Meldon Viaduct, which is a scheduled monument.

Until a viable plan is developed, it might be better and more affordable to run zero-carbon buses between Tavistock and Okehampton.

 

October 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Reopening Stonehouse Bristol Road Station

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reopening.

Stonehouse is a town in Gloucestershire.

It has a population of just under 8,000.

Stonehouse station has direct connections to Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester, London and Swindon.

Stonehouse Bristol Road station used to be a station in the town on the Cross Country Route, with direct connections to Birmingham. Bristol, Cheltenham Spa and Gloucester.

This Google Map shows the town, the current station and the proposed station.

Note.

  1. The Golden Valley Line between Gloucester and Swindon runs vaguely down the East side of the map.
  2. Stonehouse station is in the South-East corner of the map on the Golden Valley Line.
  3. The Cross Country Route between Gloucester and Bristol runs vaguely down the West side of the map.
  4. Stonehouse Bristol Road station will probably be in the South-West corner of the map, where the Cross-Country route crosses Bristol Road.
  5. The two railway lines join North of Stonehouse and go to Gloucester.

This second Google Map shows the site of Stonehouse Bristol Road station to a larger scale.

It shouldn’t be too much of a problem to fit a station where the railway crosses Bristol Road.

These are my other thoughts,

Services

The next station towards Bristol is Cam & Dursley and this station has an hourly service between Bristol and Gloucester.

Cross Country trains pass but don’t stop, but would they stop at a new station?

Car Parking

Will there be enough space for car parking bear the station?

New Housing

Wikipedia mentions that three thousand new houses may be built in Stonehouse.

This would surely be a reason for a new station.

Conclusion

It does look like the new housing is the main reason to reopen this station.

 

October 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Reopening Corsham Station

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reopening.

Corsham is a town in Wiltshire.

  • It has a population of 13,000
  • It is very much a military town, with numerous defence establishments, some of which are deep underground in former bath stone quarries.
  • Corsham station closed in 1965.

As this Google Map shows the Great Western Railway passing through the town.

The dark scar of the railway across the map towards the bottom is clearly visible.

This second Google Map shows the site of the former station.

Note.

  1. Station Road is a bit of a giveaway.
  2. There is a footbridge over the double-track railway. Note the shadow.
  3. The railway is not electrified, but could be in the future.
  4. Chippenham station is to the East and Bath Spa station is to the West.
  5. The station was in a deep cutting on the approach to Box Tunnel, which is to the West.

I doubt that designing and building a new Corsham station will be a challenging project.

These are my thoughts on other issues.

Military Issues

The Wikipedia entry for Corsham has a section called Defence, which lists well over half-a-dozen defence sites.

Could these be a reason for the new station?

  • Just like many other businesses and families, does the Ministry of Defence feel it should decarbonise?
  • Are large numbers of employees and visitors driving in from Swindon and Bristol?

How many new stations would cut the country’s carbon footprint?

Services

Currently, it appears the only services going through Corsham are the Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads service

  • There are two trains per hour (tph)
  • The trains call at Reading, Didcot Parkway, Swindon, Chippenham and Bath Spa.
  • Between Chippenham and Paddington is fully-electrified
  • Trains run between Bristol Temple Meads and Chippenham, which is a distance of 24.4 miles on diesel.

These trains could stop, but would that slow the services?

Perhaps alternate services would stop at only one of Corsham and Chippenham. But that would mean the train couldn’t be used between those two stations.

An alternative philosophy would be to electrify between Chippenham and Bath Spa, so that the stops would be faster , as acceleration would be under electric power.

  • Box Tunnel has been prepared for electrification.
  • This would be thirteen miles of new electrification.
  • Trains would run between Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa, which is a distance of 11.5 miles on diesel.

But the good citizens of Bath, might object to electrification through Sydney Gardens and the City Centre.

If they do object, an alternative would be to electrify between Bathampton junction and Chippenham.

  • As before Box Tunnel would be electrified.
  • This would be eleven miles of new electrification.
  • Trains would run between Bristol Temple Meads and Bathampton junction, which is a distance of 13.7 miles on diesel.

Bath would not be despoiled by electrification.

Battery-Electric Trains

I touched on electrification in the previous section and I believe it would be reasonably easy to electrify between Chippenham station and Bathampton junction.

This would mean that there would be just 13.7 miles for the train to power itself between Bristol Temple Meads and Bathampton junction.

As it is 27.4 miles in total with perhaps a twenty minute wait in Bristol Temple Meads station, I believe this would be within the battery range of a Hitachi  Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. Hitachi haven’t disclosed the range of the train on battery power alone.
  2. Twenty minutes in Temple Meads station is enough to fully charge the battery.

If the train could be recharged at Temple Meads station, the battery range needed would be just fifteen miles.

Conclusion

All stakeholders would appear to benefit from this new station.

October 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments