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

Note.

  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.

Note.

  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

Marsh Barton Station – A Ride-To-Work Station

According to this article on pbctoday, work has started at the new Marsh Barton station in Exeter.

This first paragraph from the article makes it clear.

Graham has commenced works on the construction of the new £16m Marsh Barton railway station in Exeter.

This Google Map shows the location.

Note.

  1. The Riviera Line between Paignton and Exeter towards the Western side of the map.
  2. Clapperbrook Lane running to the South-West corner of the map over the railway.
  3. The large blue-clad building with the chimney, is the Viridor energy-from-waste plant.
  4. Marsh Barton itself is a large trading estate to the North-East of the railway.

The station will be built where Clapperbrook Lane crosses the railway,

This document of the Devon County Council (DCC) web site gives more details about the station.

This image from the DCC document shows how the completed station will look.

These are my thoughts.

Crossing The Tracks

A cycle and foot bridge will be built parallel to the current Clapperbrook Lane East Bridge over the railway.

The DCC document says this about the bridge.

The key changes from the previous proposal relates to the ramps and access
between the two platforms. The previous design included ramps running parallel to
the railway, with long ramps and imposing structures due to Network Rail
requirements for their asset. The redesign now includes the ramps and a new bridge
constructed parallel to Clapperbrook Lane. This will instead be a Devon County
Council-owned asset and allows Devon County Council standards to be applied for
their pedestrian bridges. This is more in line with preferences expressed by disability
groups who supported shorter length but slightly steeper gradient with resting
platforms.

It looks to me that the final design will be much more aesthetically-pleasing than some of the structure Network Rail have erected lately.

These pictures show Network Rail’s traditional approach at Horden station.

I feel the Devonian approach could be better, when I see it.

From the Google Map 3D image of the station, it looks like the bridge could be already under construction, so I don’t think, I’ll have long to wait.

The Platforms

The DCC document says that there will be two 124 metre long platforms, which will take six-car local trains.

It strikes me that although 124 metres can accommodate a formation of three Class 150 trains, it might be  too short in the future.

Especially, as trains likely to be available in battery-electric versions, which will surely be used to decarbonise the Riviera Line in the future, all have cars of 23 metres or longer.

Both platforms appear to have just a single waiting shelter.

Cycle Parking

There are twenty parking spaces for cycles on each side of the line.

The DCC document says this about local housing and cycling.

The station will be within reasonable cycling distance of the 2,500 dwelling South
West Exeter strategic allocation and Alphington village and so forms an important
part of mitigating traffic impacts on routes on the western side of the city.

Is there enough provision for the secure storage of cycles?

Disabled Parking

There are just three parking spaces for disabled passengers.

Car Parking

There are no generally-available car parking spaces.

The DCC document says this about car parking.

The scheme will also support aims for low-car development aspirations as part of the
emerging Liveable Exeter housing plans, which includes proposals for strategic
levels of housing in the Marsh Barton area, all within easy walking distance of the
station.

But will the station persuade local residents to forgo driving into Exeter and use the train?

Who Will Use The Station?

The DCC document talks of Marsh Barton station being a destination station for those who work in the area.

It also says this about leisure use.

In addition, the existing Clapperbrook Lane adjacent to the station provides an important link into the Riverside Valley multi-use trail network for leisure trips as well as commuter journeys to RD&E and County Hall, within a short walk/cycle distance of the station. Being located adjacent to a high quality, attractive cycle network offers huge potential to improve integration between rail and cycling.

Currently the lane is very popular with over 400 cyclists per day recorded crossing the rail bridge; however, it is narrow with poor visibility and although lightly trafficked is not suitable for all young families, people with disabilities or people less confident on bicycles.

I have a feeling that the station will need some extra facilities to attract more passengers. Ideas like a drop-off and pick-up facility, a warm place to wait and perhaps a local shuttle bus come to mind.

But as I said in the title it is very much a Ride-To-Work station.

Conclusion

The station has an interesting feature in the bridge over the railway, which gives full step-free access.

But I do feel that some of the details of the station will need some extra thought.

From other pages on the web, it appears the station is being constructed under a Design and Build contract with experienced station builder; Graham Construction. So hopefully, the details will be properly sorted.

The proof of the quality of the design will be in the usage figures.

May 26, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments