The Anonymous Widower

Over 10,000 People Use Reopened Dartmoor Line In First Two Weeks

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from the Dartmoor Line.

These are the first three paragraphs of the press release.

More than 10,000 people have travelled on the Dartmoor Line in the first two weeks since its reopening.

The line reopened for regular year-round, all-week passenger services on Saturday 20 November and demand for the trains linking Okehampton and Exeter has continued to remain high.

The reopening of the Dartmoor Line is the first of the Government’s Restoring Your Railway schemes, made possible thanks to over £40 million Government investment.

All concerned must be very pleased, especially as it was delivered £10 million under budget and within nine months, ahead of time.

I described my first use of the new route to Okehampton in A Few Hours In Okehampton, where I came to this conclusion.

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

It would appear the passenger numbers confirm my conclusion.

Since my visit to Okehampton, I have wondered, whether the apparent success of the Okehampton reopening, would have any other effects.

In the December 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled South West Seeks More Reopenings, with a sub-title of Okehampton Service Could Be A Precursor.

The article details a number of projects.

Marsh Barton Station

A new Marsh Barton station is under construction and has a December 2022 opening date.

Edginswell Station

A new Edginswell station is being planned to serve Torbay Hospital on the Riviera Line, with a possible opening of 2025.

Collumpton And Wellington Stations

The last budget chipped in five million, so that preferred options and a full business case can be developed for these two new stations.

  • Collumpton station will probably be developed at the site of the old station, which is close to Collumpton Services on the M5.
  • Wellington station will probably be on a new site at Longworth Farm, where five hundred houses are being developed.

The Modern Railways article also says this about housing.

Thousands of houses are expected to be built in both towns in the next decade, making provision of railway stations highly desirable to avoid soaring road congestion.

Network Rail and Great Western Railway also seem to be experimenting with different service patterns through the two stations.

  • Both hourly and two-hourly services have been tested.
  • In the December 2021 timetable there is now a two-hourly GWR Castle service over the Taunton and Exeter stretch, that will call at the two new stations, when they open.
  • To have an hourly service there will also be a Taunton and Exeter shuttle.

This service would provide access to education and employment in Exeter, Taunton and Bristol.

The cost benefit ratio is above the Government’s limit for backing of two.

Opening of the two new stations is pencilled in for 2025.

Barnstaple And Axminster

The Modern Railways article also says this.

As part of the Devon Metro concept, Devon County Council aspires to extend further eastwards the hourly Barnstaple services that currently terminate at Exeter Central, perhaps as far as Axminster.

This would need track improvements East of Pinhoe station.

The current timings of the two sections are as follows.

  • Exeter Central and Axminster – 37 minutes
  • Exeter Central and Barnstaple – 74 minutes

These timings probably mean that a round trip between Axminster and Barnstaple can be done in a convenient four hours, so an hourly service would need four trains.

From sometime next year, when the frequency of the Exeter Central and Okehampton service becomes hourly, the services along the route will be as follows.

  • Exeter St. Davids and Axminster – Hourly
  • Exeter Central and Barnstaple – Hourly
  • Exeter Central and Okehampton – Hourly

There is also a service, that runs every thirty minutes between Exmouth and Paignton via Exeter Central and Exeter St. Davids, Newton Abbot and Torquay.

The frequencies on the various sections would be as follows.

  • Barnstaple and Crediton – One tph
  • Okehampton and Crediton – One tph
  • Crediton and Exeter St. Davids – Two tph
  • Paignton and Exeter St. Davids – At least two tph
  • Exeter St. Davids and Exeter Central – Five tph
  • Exeter Central and Axminster – One tph
  • Exeter Central and Exmouth – Two tph


  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. Other services run between Exeter St. Davids and Paignton stations.
  3. In recent years a new station at Cranbrook has opened between Exeter Central and Axminster.

Extending the Barnstaple and Exeter Central service to Axminster would double the frequency on the Exeter Central and Axminster section.

Axminster station is shown in this Google Map.


  1. The station has two platforms.
  2. The station appears to have a bridge with lifts.
  3. The station has a good road connection and the parking could probably be extended.

Axminster station could certainly handle a fast train between London and Exeter, a stopping train to Barnstaple and all the passengers.

Devon Metro

It does appear that the services of the Devon Metro are coming together.

  • Paignton and Exmouth is already running.
  • Barnstaple and Exeter Central is already running.
  • Okehampton and Exeter Central has just started.
  • Exeter St. Davids and Taunton via new stations at Collumpton and Wellington is being planned.
  • Barnstaple and Exeter Central needs to be extended to Axminster.

How many other cities in the UK could benefit from a metro of this quality?

Bere Alston And Tavistock

The Modern Railways article also says this.

Meanwhile, further west on the former Southern network, restoration of services from Bere Alston to Tavistock has long been proposed, giving Tavistock a rail link to Plymouth. Christian Irwin, Network Rail’s Industry Programme Manager (South West), who oversaw the Okehampton reopening that came in early and underbudget, says he is keen to repeat the trick on the Tavistock route.

It is probably more difficult than at Okehampton.

  • The trackbed is mainly intact, but the track has been lifted.
  • The track to be laid is shorter than at Okehampton.
  • Two structures at the Southern end need to be replaced.
  • A new station needs to be built at Tavistock.

Devon County Council seems to be in control of the land needed.

Proposed services seem to be as follows.

  • Plymouth and Gunnislake via Bere Alston – One train per two hours (tp2h)
  • Plymouth and Tavistock via Bere Alston – One tph

Overall it looks like the Tavistock project will be more expensive than that at Okehampton, but there would appear to be more contributions from developers.

Devon County Council are hoping that the Tavistock link could be build in the next decade.

Tavistock And Okehampton

After the reconnection of Tavistock to the National Rail network, the council would hope to complete the link between Tavistock and Okehampton.

This would give the following benefits.

  • Improved public transport connectivity in West Devon and North Cornwall.
  • Improve revenue potential at Okehampton and Tavistock stations.
  • Create an easier freight route.
  • Create an alternative route, if the coastal route is closed.

It is a challenging project, but I feel it will be possible by perhaps 2035.


December 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

An Excursion To Axminster

My Devon Day Ranger allowed travel to Axminster, so I took a trip.

These are my comments on various topics.

Peninsular Task Force

According to the June 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, the Peninsular Task Force has made recommendations about this route.

  • An improved line.
  • An enhanced South Devon Metro
  • A better diversion route.
  • Speeding up of services between London Waterloo and Exeter by 36 minutes.

It will be interesting to see what actually happens.

Axminster Station

I was surprised to find that Axminster station is quite a sophisticated one as the pictures show.

It also had an excellent cafe that made me a fgluten-free bacon sandwich.

Class 800/802 Trains On The West Of England Line

The West Of England Line is currently certified for InterCity 125s, so it would probably allow Class 800 and Class 802 electro-diesel trains to use the route.

It might need some updating to some of the connecting routes East of Yeovil Junction.

Speeding Up Services Between London Waterloo And Exeter

Most of the services on this route are run by 90 mph Class 159 trains, which are well-matched to the 90 mph West Of England Line.

The current trains are diesel, which means they can’t take advantage of the electrified section of the line between London and Basingstoke.

In the June 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, this is said about services between London Waterloo and Exeter.

Journey time improvements of up to 36 minutes between Exeter and London Waterloo are forecast through a combination of linespeed improvements and trains calling only at Salisbury between Clapham Junction and Yeovil Junction.

The described stopping pattern would cut seven stops, at how many minutes a stop?

I have read that cutting a stop saves around three minutes a stop, but the amount will depend on a large number of factors.

  • Braking for the stop.
  • Accelerating back to line speed.
  • The ease with which passengers can enter and exit, which is helped by wide doors and large lobbies.
  • The quality of the driving.

Looking at the timetables various stops can take between three and seven minutes.

As an example, the Class 159 trains take 52 minutes between Basingstoke and Waterloo with stops at Woking and Clapham Junction, but a 100 mph electric train does it in 45 minutes with just a stop at Clapham Junction.

Without the actual figures, I can only take an educated guess.

An average of four minutes would mean finding eight minutes from linespeed improvements.

But there would be one simple way to speed up the trains.

Running Class 802 trains would certainly reduce journey times.

  • They are electro-diesel trains, so could use the electrification between London Waterloo and Basingstoke.
  • They have a 100 mph speed on diesel power, if speed limits allow.
  • They have a 125 mph speed on electrified lines, if speed limits allow.
  • Their undoubted power would get them quickly up to linespeed, thus reducing stop time.
  • They have probably got better braking performance, than the current Class 159 trains.

But also consider.

  • If linespeed is increased from the current 90 mph to perhaps 100 mph, the Class 159 trains can’t take any advantage.
  • Running on electricity between London and Basingstoke, could also save a few minutes and some carbon emissions.
  • Upgrading the line West of Basingstoke to allow higher speed where possible.
  • Adding some more passing loops, at stations like Whimple.
  • Any extra electrification past Basingstoke would be welcomed.

This could realise savings of perhaps fifteen to twenty minutes.

I am assuming the following.

  • The more powerful Class 802 variant of the Class 800 train will be used, as speed on diesel power will be important.
  • The trains can be fitted with third-rail shoes, like the closely related Class 395 train.
  • I wonder, if it would be prudent to make all Class 802 trains dual-voltage.

Operationally, the trains may offer other advantages.

  • If they are closely related to the Class 802 variant used by GWR for Peninsular services, this must be beneficial, as FirstGroup is involved in both train operating companies.
  • It appeared to me at Exeter St. Davids that the Class 159 trains need a lot of refuelling, so the large fuel tanks of the Class 802 trains might save refuelling time.
  • The joint fleet could be serviced at the same depot in perhaps either Exeter or Plymouth.
  • Running similar trains on both routes from Exeter to London might give a marketing advantage.
  • Five-car and nine-car Class 802 trains could be used as appropriate.
  • It might be economic to extend some Waterloo services past Exeter.

A quick calculation shows that to provide an hourly service needs the following number of trainsets.

  • Class 159 trains with a round trip of 7 hours – 7 trainsets of two trains.
  • Class 802 trains with a round trip of  6 hours – 6 trains.

This could make the smaller Class 802 fleet easier to manage.

A South Devon Metro

The Modern Railways article has a brief reference to an enhanced South Devon Metro.

Currently, between Yeovil Junction and Exeter, there is generally one train per hour (tph).

This is not enough.

So in addition to the current service could the South West be seeing a modern diesel service from perhaps Yeovil Junction or Salisbury to Plymouth, at perhaps one tph.

But ideally, there should be four tph on the route to provide a Turn-Up-And-Go service.

New Stations

The stations at Axminster, Cranbrook and Whimple have recently opened, reopened or rebuilt.

There is also this article on DevonLive, which is entitled Second Cranbrook station still in the pipeline.

So could the eco-village of Cranbrook, get a second station called Cranbrook East?

I suspect that development of the line West of Salisbury could see some more and better stations.


The recommendations of the Peninsular Task Force should probably be followed.

I think we’ll see the following on the West of England Line.

  • An enhanced service of at least 2 tph from Yeovil Junction to Exeter, with some extended to Plymouth.
  • London Waterloo to Exeter in under three hours.
  • A variant of Class 800 trains working the route.
  • New and improved stations.

One great advantage is that First Group are at least part-owners of the two train operating companies in the region.


April 7, 2017 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment