The Anonymous Widower

A Few Hours In Okehampton

Today, I took a trip by train to Okehampton and spent a couple of hours in the town.

I took the 10:04 from Paddington and after changing at Exeter St. Davids, I arrived in Okehampton at 13:11

Coming back, I took the 15:24 from Okehampton and arrived in Paddington at 18:24.

So the journeys took about three hours.

These pictures show Okehampton station.

Note.

  1. The train was two Class 150 trains coupled together.
  2. I suspect the platform is long enough to take a GWR Castle train
  3. The bus in the pictures is the 118, of which more later.
  4. It looked like a buffet was under construction.
  5. The new train information displays.

I took the bus down to Okehampton, where I took these pictures, as I walked around.

Note, that the first three pictures show the museum and the cycle works cafe, where I had a coffee and a delicious gluten-free flapjack.

I have a few thoughts on my journey, both now and in the future.

The 118 Bus

The 118 bus runs between Tavistock and Okehampton station.

  • It serves the villages in between.
  • It meets the trains from Exeter and takes them to Okehampton Town Centre.
  • It picks people up from Okehampton Town Centre and takes them to the station just before the trains leave for Exeter.
  • It accepts contactless payment.

It is a well-designed bus route that links passengers with the trains to and from Exeter.

Many other towns could follow Okehampton’s lead.

Walking Between Station And The Town Centre

I could certainly walk down the hill, but one of the locals said that it rather a stiff walk up the hill that takes about fifteen minutes, if you’re up to it. He also felt a taxi would be about a fiver.

Could A Battery Train Work The Service between Exeter And Okehampton Station?

Consider.

  • It is 24.8 miles between Exeter St. David and Okehampton stations.
  • It is a rise of under 200 metres.
  • The Class 150 trains climbed the hill at around 30 mph, but in places it was lower.
  • Hitachi, Stadler and Vivarail are talking about battery-electric trains with a range of fifty miles.
  • I was talking to one of the Great Western Railway staff and he said in the days of steam, the trains used to roll down the hill into Exeter.
  • There is the 18 MW Den Brook Wind Farm close to Okehampton.
  • With regenerative braking rolling down would recharge the batteries.

I suspect, that designing a battery-electric train to climb the hill is possible.

My rough estimate says that a battery of around 500 KWh could be enough.

Are The People Of Devon Going To Use The Train?

I took these pictures as I joined the train back to Exeter.

The people were a mixture of those arriving from Exeter and those returning to Exeter, but most seats were taken on the way back.

I can see Great Western Railway running Castles, like the one in the picture, for services on this route in the Summer, both to attract passengers and to cope with their numbers.

Local Reaction

I talked to several local people and they were all pleased that the service has been reinstated.

The only complaint was that it should have happened sooner.

Is A Day Trip Possible?

Suppose you live in London and your mother or other close relative lives in Okehampton.

Would it be possible to be able to visit them on their birthday for a good lunch?

Consider.

  • At the present time, trains from London, connect to the Okehampton service about every two hours.
  • The first connecting service leaves Paddington at 08:04.
  • Trains take around three hours between Paddington and Okehampton.
  • From probably May 2022, there will be hourly connections to Okehampton.
  • The last London train leaves Exeter at 20:46.

If you wanted to be a real hero, you could always take the Night Riviera back to London, which leaves Exeter at 0100.

I would say that if they planned it properly, a day trip from London to Okehampton by train, is feasible for a special occasion.

Will Great Western Railway Ever Run Direct Trains Between London Paddington And Okehampton?

I doubt this would be a regular service but I do believe that it is technically feasible.

  • Trains would need to reverse at Exeter St. Davids.
  • Trains would probably be limited to five car Class 802 trains.
  • Okehampton station could probably accommodate a five-car Class 802 train.
  • I estimate that the journey time would be a few minutes under three hours.

It should be noted that Paignton gets around three trains per day (tpd) from Paddington.

It might be that if the demand was there, a few trains per day could be run to and from London, by splitting and joining with the Paignton service at Exeter St. Davids.

  • If both services were run by five-car trains, there would be a ten-car service to and from London.
  • It certainly looks that GWR wouldn’t have to spend a great deal to implement the service.
  • The extra capacity of the five-car train might help commuters into Exeter.

It  is likely that this service wouldn’t run until Okehampton Parkway station is opened, which would attract travellers from the West, who would arrive at the station along the A 30 dual-carriageway

I can certainly see a service leaving Okehampton at around seven in the morning and getting into London about ten, paired with a late afternoon/evening train home.

It should be noted, that First Group with their Lumo service between London and Edinburgh, seem to negotiate for paths that create revenue.

But I do wonder, if one of the reasons , that Great Western Railway, Network Rail, Devon County Council, the Department of Transport and the Government were all very much in favour of reopening this route, is that it creates a valid alternative route between London and Plymouth and all places to the West, should the main route via Dawlish be breached again by the sea.

Okehampton station and the future Okehampton Parkway station are both close to the A30 which would allow express coaches to Plymouth and all over West Devon and Cornwall to bypass the trouble.

Hopefully, because the alterative route has been enabled the worst won’t happen.

Conclusion

Exeter and Okehampton is a well-thought out reopening, that will be welcomed in the South West of England.

 

 

November 26, 2021 - Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the travelblog looks a nice town and im sure passenger numbers will come.

    With respect to buses meeting trains ive always been highly impressed in my trips around Franconia (Bavaria) how well coordinated buses are with trains especially at smaller stations such that we have been able to get out into the smaller village breweries and back in morning or an afternoon and with confidence they will turn up. So great to see this in action in Okehampton and the govt really ought to be making it a basic principle that public transport services should be integrated like this.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | November 26, 2021 | Reply

  2. Was it part of some kind of London-based bloggers organised away-day 😉 As you are all at it!

    Comment by Sisyphus | November 26, 2021 | Reply

  3. Re useful 118 bus.
    If only other rural bus operators could be persuaded to have proper correspondence with train services, subsididised if necessary

    Case in point: onward connections from the vastly improved Bittern line at Sheringham. Shockingly few of the Sanders 44 service connect properly, and a real glaring miss is the last bus of the night leaves 10 minutes before the last train arrival, for no good reason, meaning onward transport is by taxi at time and a half rate so a connection to Holt costs more than a easily found advance return to London.

    Charles Sanders has stated in local press that he can’t afford to schedule according to train times.

    (This is the same area where there is the fantasy project of Norfolk Orbital rail..prove the demand with good integrated bus service, I say!)

    Comment by MilesT | November 27, 2021 | Reply

    • I do think Devon County Council is serious about using Okehampton and Okehampton Parkway stations as a railhead to serve the area West of the town. There is the A30 dual-carriageway to Launceston and Bodmin and it might be easier to drive to Okehampton and get a train to Exeter.

      I can also see one daily service from Okehampton to London being profitable for GWR, as it would certainly be quicker than driving.

      A quick search on the Internet says Okehampton to London by car takes four hours and I did it in three on the train.

      Interesting you describe the Norfolk Orbital Railway as a fantasy. Not an area I know well, but I did meet a guy some years ago, who said that all the personalities involved didn’t see eye to eye.

      I do like the idea of Greater Anglia running to Dereham.

      Comment by AnonW | November 27, 2021 | Reply


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