The Anonymous Widower

Devizes Station Would Need To Be Part Of Wider Rail Plan

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

These two paragraphs outline the current status.

The construction of a Devizes Gateway station at Lydeway is unlikely to represent value for money as a standalone project, but it could be viable as part of a wider rail improvement programme, a study has concluded.

The feasibility study undertaken by Wiltshire Council, Devizes Development Partnership, GWR and Network Rail built on a strategic outline business case submitted to the Department for Transport under the Restoring Your Railway Fund programme in November 2021.

The Department for Transport will now decide what to do next.

I think there are other issues on the route between Reading and Taunton.

The Current Train Service

The only passenger services using the Reading and Taunton route are these three trains, which all have a frequency of one train per two hours (tp2h).

  • London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids – Calling at Reading, Newbury, Hungerford, Pewsey, Westbury, Castle Cary, Taunton and Tiverton Parkway
  • London Paddington and Plymouth – Calling at Reading, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway and Exeter St Davids
  • London Paddington and Penzance  – Calling at Reading, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway and Exeter St Davids


  1. London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids takes a few minutes over two hours.
  2. London Paddington and Plymouth takes a few minutes over three hours.
  3. London Paddington and Penzance takes a few minutes over five hours.
  4. The Reading and Taunton route is a double-track railway with a 110 mph operating speed.
  5. London Paddington and Newbury is electrified.
  6. The last two trains alternate to give Plymouth an hourly service.
  7. After Exeter St. Davids, trains have a sophisticated stopping pattern to give all stations served a good service.

From several trips along the line, I have the impression, that it’s a route, where drivers can get the best out of the trains.


The line would benefit from electrification, in terms of journey times and decarbonisation.

But could this route be run by battery-electric trains?

  • It is 89.7 miles between Newbury and Taunton.
  • It is 120.4 miles between Newbury and Exeter St. Davids.
  • It is 52.1 miles between Exeter St. Davids and Plymouth.
  • It is 79.4 miles between Plymouth and Penzance.
  • London Paddington and Newbury is electrified.
  • Taunton, Exeter St. Davids, Plymouth and Penzance stations could have a charging system of some sort.

This Hitachi infographic shows the specification of the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.


  • Two trains go between Newbury and Taunton without stopping.
  • The Exeter St. Davids service stops three times.
  • Newbury and Taunton non-stop took 75 minutes at an average speed of 72 mph
  • Newbury and Taunton with three stops took 78 minutes.
  • All trains currently appear to be nine cars.

I suspect that Hitachi’s Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train could go between Newbury and Taunton with a great deal of ease.

How many diesel engines and batteries would the train have?

Normally, nine-car Class 800/802 trains have five diesel engines.

So how many will be replaced by batteries?

The infographic says one engine will be replaced, so if that is a five-car train, it looks likely that a nine-car train could have two batteries.

But Hitachi could be playing a long game!

In Stadler FLIRT Akku Battery Train Demonstrates 185km Range, I wrote about how the FLIRT Akku has a range of 115 miles.

If Hitachi can squeeze 125 miles out of a nine-car Class 800 with two or three battery packs, they will outrange the FLIRT Akku and be able to run between London Paddington and Penzance on batteries, with some topping up on the way.

We mustn’t forget the engineers at Hyperdrive Innovation, who are designing and building Hitachi’s battery packs.

They will be ultracompetitive and know the range required to get battery-electric trains to Penzance.

I suspect that when the range of the nine-car battery-electric Class 800/802 is revealed, it will astonish everybody!

Bedwyn Station

Bedwyn station is served by an hourly shuttle train to and from Newbury, run by a diesel train.

The station used to have a direct service from London, but now passengers change at Newbury.

A Station For Marlborough

I investigated this in A Station For Marlborough, where this was my conclusion.

With the next generation of electric train with onboard energy storage or IPEMUs, a Marlborough station on a new Marlborough Branch Line can be used to create a two tph service to and from Paddington to replace the current one tph service from Bedwyn.

So a new Marlborough station would be a win for all those using stations on the Reading to Taunton Line to the East of Pewsey.

I also wonder how many other similar services can be developed by extending a service past a main line terminal to a new or reopened branch line, which is built without electrification and run using trains with onboard energy storage.

In answer to my posed question in the last paragraph, I suspect it is quite a few!

Devizes Gateway Station At Lydeway

I wrote about this proposed Devizes Gateway station in Reinstatement Of Rail Access To Devizes Via A New Station At Lydeway.

After writing Was Baldrick An Essex Man? about the building of an avoiding line at the new Beaulieu Park station North of Chelmsford, I do wonder, if it would be an idea to incorporate one in this proposed station, if there is a need to increase capacity.

This Google Map shows the station site, where the A342 crosses the railway.

I suspect a third track can be squeezed in.

Westbury Station

Westbury station is a busy station, where the Reading and Taunton Line crosses the Wessex Main Line.

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the lines in the station.


  1. The blue lettering indicates Westbury station.
  2. The two major rail routes are shown in orange.
  3. The Reading and Taunton Line goes East-West across the map.
  4. Note the avoiding line South of Westbury station.
  5. Reading is in the East and Taunton is in the West.
  6. The Wessex Main Line goes North-South across the map.
  7. Bristol is in the North.
  8. Salisbury and Southampton is in the South.

In Westbury Station – 30th July 2020, there are some pictures I took of Westbury station.

This section in Wikipedia says this about the Future of Westbury station.

The line to Westbury is not due to be electrified as part of the 21st-century modernisation of the Great Western Main Line. Although local councillors support it, the extension of electrification beyond Newbury to Westbury was assessed as having a benefit–cost ratio of only 0.31.

On the other hand this document on the Network Rail web site, which is entitled the Devizes Gateway Interim
Feasibility Study, suggests that another platform might be added at Westbury station.

Castle Cary Station

Castle Cary station doesn’t seem to have any well-publicised problems, so please tell me if you know of any.

Frome Station

Frome station is described in its Wikipedia entry as an unusual station and one that is Grade II Listed.

I suspect, it could do with some more services.

Somerton Station

I wrote about a new Somerton station in Somerset: Plans For New Railway Station On Levels.

Track Improvements

I suspect if Network Rail were improving the route between Reading and Taunton, they know of some places, where they could do some work.

Service Improvements


  • There is probably a need for a stopping train between Newbury and Taunton, which calls at all stations.
  • It might terminate at the London end, at either London Paddington or Reading.
  • It might be a battery-electric train.
  • An hourly frequency would be ideal, if the track and signalling could handle it.
  • Charging systems would be positioned as needed.

The train would interface with other Great Western services to Bristol, London Paddington, Gloucester, Salisbury, Southampton and Weymouth.

Oy could also interface with the Transwilts services.


This could be developed into a very useful network for Wessex.

April 19, 2023 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. You’ve missed out on a couple of other points:
    1. Commuter services should be extended beyond Great Bedwyn (a pointless ‘terminus’) to Westbury which would be a logical extension as it would link in with other services to all points North, South and West. This would also result in an improved and regular service for both Pewsey and the new ‘Devizes Parkway’. I don’t see the point of an additional station for Marlborough (unless it became a branch line) as both Bedwyn and Pewsey are relatively equidistant and sticking another station at say Stibb Green for Burbage/Marlborough may not be cost effective. Pewsey would most likely benefit more from Marlborough residents if the rail service to Westbury was improved to at least hourly (maybe half hourly during the peak hours or better use of longer distance IET’s to provide the additional peak service).
    An extension of the Network SouthEast boundary to Westbury would make additional sense. This could well encourage additional rail users during off peak hours potentially with an earlier finish to the morning peak.
    2. The line between Westbury and Taunton is woefully lacking in station stops other than my ‘namesake’ Bruton and Castle Cary. Somerton is about the only place of significance that could do with a station as you’ve stated. I’m not sure a business case exits for a station at Langport yet. Like Somerton, the railway runs right through it, but it doesn’t yet meet NR criteria to consider it.
    I know a scheme was talked about not so long ago to improve services between Swindon and Taunton (potentially on to Bishops Lydeard) via Westbury to better serve Frome, Bruton and Castle Cary (and ideally Somerton) but that seems to have quietly gone into the long grass.
    Of additional note would be to double the single track between Swindon and Melksham as a respectable diversionary route, which potentially could lead to the doubling of Castle Cary to Yeovil as a respectable diversionary route. The current state of play when diversions are in operation over either route leave a lot to be desired.

    Comment by Andrew Bruton | April 19, 2023 | Reply

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