The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Goodrington and Churston Stations

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

I wrote about a similar project, that had been proposed by the Association of Train Operating Companies in Between Exeter And Paignton. after I visited Devon, three years ago.

The basic idea is described in a section called Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Riviera Line, where this is said.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies identified Brixham as one of fourteen towns for which the provision of a new railway service would have a positive benefit-cost ratio. This would be an extension of the Great Western Railway service beyond Paignton to Churston station on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway, which would then act as a railhead for Brixham. It would also serve other housing developments in the area since the opening of the steam railway, and may require the doubling of that line between Paignton and Goodrington Sands.

This Google Map shows between Paignton and Goodrington Sands stations.

Note.

  1. Paignton station is marked by a station sign towards the top of the map.
  2. Goodrington Sands station is towards the bottom of the map.

The two stations seem well placed to serve the serve the town of Paignton and its beaches.

This second Google Map shows the Goodrington Sands and Churston stations in relation to Brixham and Berry Head.

Note.

  1. Goodrington Sands station is at the top of the map.
  2. Two other stations on the Dartmouth Steam Railway are shown; Greenway Halt and Churston.
  3. Churston station is the most Northerly of the pair.

Churston station looks well-placed for Brixham.

These are my thoughts.

The Current Train Service

The train service between Paignton and Exeter St. Davids is run by Great Western Railway.

There are basically two services,

  1. A two train per hour (tph) service between Paignton and Exmouth via Torquay and Exeter St. Davids. I have used it and it is a useful local service for commuters, shoppers and visitors, although it could do with some modern trains.
  2. Occasional trains during the day to London Paddington.

There are also some CrossCountry trains going to and from Manchester Piccadilly.

The Dartmouth Steam Railway also runs trains between Paignton and via Goodrington Sands and Churston.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

This train is described in this infographic from Hitachi.

I believe it will revolutionise rail travel in the South West of England, as shorter lengths of electrification, will enable this train based on current Class 800 and Class 802 trains to run all-electric services between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids, Newquay, Paignton, Penzance and Plymouth.

Exeter St. Davids As A Hub For Battery Electric Trains

Exeter St. Davids station could become a major hub for battery electric trains.

These are distances to various stations.

  • Barnstaple – 39 miles
  • Exmouth – 11 miles
  • Paignton – 28 miles
  • Plymouth – 52 miles
  • Taunton – 32 miles
  • Yeovil Junction – 49 miles

All of these would be in range of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train or any battery electric train with sufficient range, that was fully-charged at Exeter St. Davids station.

The station has plenty of space and several long platforms, so I believe it would make an ideal hub for battery electric trains.

Could Battery Electric Trains Work The Riviera Line?

The Riviera Line was designed by Brunel for atmospheric power. Perhaps, he had observed the weather and felt the massive seas would make it difficult for for the steam locomotives of the day?

As an Electrical Engineer, I certainly couldn’t recommend electrifying through Dawlish with 25 KVAC overhead wires.

I took the picture from an InterCity 125 in 2011 and the seas seem to have got worse. Remember, that the line was washed away at Dawlish in February 2014.

But Hitachi’s Class 802 trains, seem to be handling the route on diesel power, without too much trouble.

I would expect that if one or more of the diesel engines are swapped for battery packs that the performance in heavy seas will not be worse.

But the biggest advantage of battery electric trains on the Riviera Line would surely be one of marketing.

And not just of the environmentally-friendly train service by Great Western Railway and CrossCountry, but by Hitachi in the marketing of their trains all over the world.

The only minor problem, I can see, could be the provision of charging at Paignton, as a 28 mile journey twice might be on the limit of the range of a battery electric train. Unless of course, bigger batteries were fitted!

A Splash-and-Dash At Newton Abbott

Newton Abbott station is roughly halfway between Plymouth and Exeter St. Davids and might be needed to give a Splash-and-Dash to trains between Devon’s two cities.

Some trains terminate at the station and others seem to take a leisurely stop at the station, so it could be a valuable calling point in a discontinuous electrification strategy.

Edginswell Station

Wikipedia has an entry for a new Edginswell station.

This is said.

Edginswell railway station is a proposed station in the Edginswell area of Torquay, Devon. The station would be located on the Riviera Line between Newton Abbot and Torre stations. Edginswell will be the location of employment and housing development and the new station will support this development. The station would also serve Torbay Hospital, The Willows retail park and the Torquay Gateway development area.

Plans for the station are being developed by Network Rail and Devon County Council.

This Google Map shows the area, where I think the station could be built.

Note.

  1. The large red dot indicates Edginswell.
  2. The main road across the map, was built on the North side of the Riviera Line.
  3. The Willows retail park lies to the North of the Hospital on the other side of the road and the railway.
  4. Torbay Hospital lies in the bend of the road and the railway.

This second Google Map shows an enlargement of the area to the North of the large red dot in the previous map.

Note.

  1. The A380 or South Devon Expressway leaving the map to the North-West. This road connects Torquay and the neighbouring towns and villages to the A38 and M5, which connect to the rest of the UK Motorway network.
  2. The Riviera Line passing across the North-East corner of the map.

Could this be the position to build a large Park-and-Ride station?

  • It is a sizeable site, with good rail and road connections.
  • I would estimate that the distance between Edginswell and Churston is under ten miles.
  • Frequent electric shuttle buses could take people to the hospital and the nearby retail parks.
  • Battery electric shuttle trains with a frequency of up to four tph could run between Exeter St. Davids and Paignton or another suitable terminal.
  • Shuttle trains could charge at Edginswell and probably manage two round trips in an hour.
  • This article on DevonLive is entitled Gridlocked Devon: Pollution – The Invisible Killer On Devon’s Roads, says a lot in the title.
  • Long distance trains run by Great Western Railway or CrossCountry could call.
  • Could some heritage trains terminate at Edginswell station?
  • Would a Park-and-Ride station allow some of the land taken up by car parking along the coast, to be released for other purposes, more in tune with today’s mood?

It would be very interesting to see what would happen, if Edginswell station was built as a Park-and-Ride station with a Turn-Up-and-Go service to Torquay and Paignton and their beaches.

Paignton Station

This Google Map shows Paignton station.

Note.

  1. The station has three National Rail platforms and one heritage platform for the Dartmouth Steam Railway.
  2. There is also a level crossing at the Northern end of the station, where Torbay Road crosses the railway.

Obviously, I don’t know the definitive answer, but would fitting a Fast Charge system to charge battery trains into the station be difficult because of the lack of space.

Goodrington Sands Station

This Google Map shows Goodrington Sands station.

Note.

  1. Goodrington Sands station has two platforms.
  2. There is a comprehensive track layout between Paignton and Goodrington Sands stations.
  3. South of Goodrington Sands station, the line becomes single-track
  4. Goodrington Sands station appears to be surrounded by car parks.
  5. The only bridge across the railway appears to be at the North end of the station.

I think that a well-designed Goodrington Sands station could feature the following.

  • Charging for battery trains.
  • There might be a bay platform to turn and charge trains.
  • A step-free bridge across the tracks.
  • Easy walking routes to the nearby attractions.
  • At least four tph to and from Edginswell, if that is built as a Park-and-Ride station.

Churston Station

This Google Map shows Churston station.

Note.

  1. Churston station is towards the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The station has two platforms.

Until I see the station, I am inclined to think, that the site would be a difficult one, in which to fit a Fast Charge system.

Conclusion

I can see the addition of Goodrington Sands and Churston turning the Riviera Line into a Coastal Metro between Exmouth and Churston.

I do think, the following would make it the ultimate rail line for the area.

  • A Park-and-Ride station at Edginswell.
  • Battery electric operation.
  • A Turn-Up-and-Go frequency of four tph, between Exeter St. Davids and Churston.
  • Two tph between Exmouth and Churston.
  • One tph between London Paddington and Churston.
  • One tph between Manchester Piccadilly and Churston.

It may be that some trains will turn back at Paignton or Goodrington Sands.

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

August 19, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trains Between Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton

The trains work a triangular schedule with  Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton stations at the points and most cross-Exeter services calling at Exeter Central and Exeter St. Davids stations,

Current times in the afternoon timetable for the various legs are

  • Exeter St. Davids to Barnstaple – Minimum – 68 minutes – 6 stops
  • Exeter St. Davids to Barnstaple – Maximum – 77 minutes – 11 stops
  • Barnstaple to Exeter St. Davids – Minimum – 62 minutes – 6 stops
  • Barnstaple to Exeter St. Davids – Maximum – 76 minutes – 10 stops
  • Exeter St. Davids to Exmouth – Minimum – 29 minutes – 5 stops
  • Exeter St. Davids to Exmouth – Maximum – 34 minutes – 9 stops
  • Exmouth to Exeter St. Davids – Minimum – 26 minutes – 5 stops
  • Exmouth to Exeter St. Davids -Maximum –  34 minutes – 9 stops
  • Exeter St. Davids to Paignton – Minimum – 54 minutes – 8 stops
  • Exeter St. Davids to Paignton – Maximum – 62 minutes – 8 stops
  • Paignton to Exeter St. Davids – Minimum 48 minutes – 6 stops
  • Paignton to Exeter St. Davids – Maximum – 62 minutes – 8 stops

From the timetable, the timings seem all over the place.

But consider.

  • I was told that the trains aren’t very reliable and sometimes a Class 143 train turns up and struggles.
  • So timings are probably worked out for a Class 143 train, which is a Pacer.
  • Some trains skip several stops.
  • The Exmouth and Paignton legs seem to have better performance, but then the terrain is not so hilly.
  • Four-car trains are needed much of the time. At least platforms seem to be built for at least that length.

The people who devised the current timetable probably found it challenging.

It could probably be simplified, by more, better, faster and more powerful trains.

After I visited the Buxton Line I wrote Thoughts On The Buxton Line.

I said this.

The Buxton Line is very stiff for a railway in England. Wikipedia says this about the rolling stock.

Due to steep gradients on this line, Class 142 and Class 153 DMUs are banned from the section of line between Hazel Grove and Buxton. Therefore, services to Buxton are worked by Class 150 and Class 156 DMUs. Also Class 158 DMUs were once blocked from operating on the line to Buxton due to the possibility of the large roof-mounted air vents striking low bridges on the route.Piccadilly to Hazel Grove services used Class 323 electric multiple units up until 2008.

I went up in a Class 150 train and came down in a Class 156 train.

The Class 150 train definitely found the climb a struggle and it wasn’t even that full.

So why if Northern have stopped using Class 142 and Class 153 trains on steep hills, does it look like GWR are still doing it on the Tarka Line?

Probably, because it is all they’ve got!

If the electrification of the Great Western Railway had been going to the original schedule, the trains would have been replaced with some of the twenty two-car and sixteen three-car Class 165 trains or twenty-one three-car Class 166 trains, currently used between London and Reading.

Surely, these would be able to work as three or four car units on the lines out of Exeter!

As the trains are more powerful, perhaps they could work a faster and more passenger and operator friendly timetable.

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tarka Line

The Tarka Line is a branch line in Devon that runs up from Exeter St. Davids station to Barnstable station.

I went to Barnstaple in the rush hour in a packed three car train, consisting of a Class 150 and a Class 153 train working together, asw a three-car unit.

The lady next to me, said she lived in Bideford, so she had a drive from Barnstaple.

Coming back down, the train was almost empty, so I took a pit stop at Yeoford station in a local pub called the Mare and Foal, before catching the next train back to Exeter. That train was a refurbished Class 150 train, that I wrote about in What Train Is This?

These pictures show Yeoford station to give a flavour of the line.

The Link To The Dartmoor Railway

This Google Map shows the section of the Tarka Line North from Yeoford station, which is in the South East corner.

At the village of Penstone, the Dartmoor Railway breaks off to the West to go to Okehampton station.

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Yeoford station, this is said.

The Dartmoor Railway plan to reopen the disused platform at the station in order to create an interchange with the Tarka Line (and thus the national network). Through running from Yeoford to Okehampton was intended to commence in 2009 but this was delayed pending the finalising of transfer arrangements with Network Rail. Accordingly, the “Sunday Rover” service run by Great Western Railway again operated on Sundays throughout the summer of 2009, although not calling here. Though the GWR summer trains have continued to operate since (running again each summer from 2013-16), agreement over the use of Yeoford as an interchange has still not been reached and it is unclear as to when (or if) this will be possible.

If this does happen, it could be the first step in opening up a second East-West route across Devon.

This page on the Dartmoor Railway web site is entitled GWR Sunday service to Okehampton and gives details of the GWR Summer Sunday service.

Reopening the old LSWR route across Devon will be driven by the following.

  • New housing developments in the area.
  • Tourism
  • Creating employment.
  • Bringing quarried materials to construction distribution depots and sites by rail.
  • Creating a second route to Cornwall in case of disruption at Dawlish.

Murphy’s Law will of course apply and once the route is open, there will be no more disruption at Dawlish.

If the route is built, it will allow local trains to do a circular route from Exeter calling at the following stations in large towns.

  • Crediton
  • Okehampton
  • Tavistock
  • Plymouth
  • Newton Abbott

The route would give connections to branches to Axminster, Barnstaple, Exmouth, Gunnislake, Paignton and Tiverton.

Onward To Bideford

The Wikipedia entry for Bideford station says this.

Recently, the station was included on the ATOC Connecting Communities report, that recommends closed lines and stations that should have a railway station. The report suggests the reopening of the Barnstaple – Bideford railway line.

This Google Map shows the centre of the town of Bideford.

The old station was located at the site of the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre at the Eastern end of the Old Bideford Bridge.

So could the railway line between Barnstaple and Bideford be reopened?

This Google Map shows the other end of the line at Barnstaple.

The old railway line is now used as the South West Coastal Path.

I think with traditional technology, it will be unlikely that the railway is rebuilt, as walkers and others will rightly object to noisy diesel trains or electrification of any kind, disturbing the countryside.

But as I wrote in No-Frills Mini Trains Offer Route To Reopening Lines That Beeching Shut, engineers won’t give up in providing solutions for difficult to serve places.

I believe that within ten years, a silent battery-powered train, will be ghosting its way along a single track railway between Barstaple and Bideford, that is shared with walkers and cyclists.

Remember engineering is the science of the possible, whereas politics is all impossible dreams.

 

 

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Between Exeter And Paignton

When I got to Paddington in the morning, I found that my 10:00 train to Exeter St. Davids was going on to finish its journey at the resort of Paignton.

So as I had a few minutes, I bought myself a Devon Day Ranger ticket, from the Ticket Office at Paddington. It cost me £6.60 and meant I could start my Devon expoloration without wasting time buying a ticket in the county.

I took these pictures of my trip to Paignton.

These are some thoughts on what I saw and did.

Paignton

This Google Map shows Paignton station and the road I walked down to the sea-front.

I remember that when I came in 1966, I took an open-topped bus To Brixham and back. It was a new Leyland Atlantean and it doubled as a tourist bus and local transport. In the winter they put a top on the bus.

I wonder, if they still do the same in Torbay.

The Starcross And Exmouth Ferry

There is a ferry between Starcross station and Exmouth.

Edginswell Station

Wikipedia has an entry for a new Edginswell station.

This is said.

Edginswell railway station is a proposed station in the Edginswell area of Torquay, Devon. The station would be located on the Riviera Line between Newton Abbot and Torre stations. Edginswell will be the location of employment and housing development and the new station will support this development. The station would also serve Torbay Hospital, The Willows retail park and the Torquay Gateway development area.

Plans for the station are being developed by Network Rail and Devon County Council.

Sounds good!

The Dartmouth Steam Railway

Paignton station is also the terminus of the Dartmouth Steam Railway, which goes a distance of nearly seven miles to Kingswear station for a ferry to Dartmouth.

When I visited in 1966, it would have still been part of British Rail.

Mainline rail tours still run between the National Rail network and the Dartmouth Steam Railway to travel down to Kingswear.

Developing The Riviera Line

The whole railway from Exeter to Paignton via Newton Abbott is called the Riviera Line and after the blockage of Winter 2014 at Dawlish and the subsequent rebuilding, the difficult bits are probably in the best condition that engineers could achieve.

Trains along the line from Exeter to Paignton are approximately half-hourly, but I do wonder if from Newton Abbott to Paignton more trains could be run in perhaps the summer months or at weekends.

But surely this biggest plan is this listed under Plans, in the Wikipedia entry for the Riviera Line. This is said.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies identified Brixham as one of fourteen towns for which the provision of a new railway service would have a positive benefit-cost ratio. This would be an extension of the Great Western Railway service beyond Paignton to Churston station on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway, which would then act as a railhead for Brixham. It would also serve other housing developments in the area since the opening of the steam railway, and may require the doubling of that line between Paignton and Goodrington Sands.

This Google Map shows the Goodrington Sands and Churston stations in relation to Brixham and Berry Head.

 

The stations are on the Western edge of the map, with Goodrington Sands at the North.

The ATOC report was written in 2009 and since then railway technology and attitudes have moved on.

  • Signalling has improved, so mixing heritage services with schedule ones, isn’t as difficult as it used to be.
  • Health and Safety have now developed rules that are based on risk and are less draconian.
  • Train operating companies and heritage railways work together much better and realise that they’re all part of the same network and one company’s passenger is often another company’s too!

But the biggest development is trains that are used on the national network, that don’t look out of place on a heritage railway.

  • Paignton is served by InterCity 125 trains. Could these be extended to Churston, as perhaps a short four-car formation?
  • The unparalleled Mark 3 coach will soon be available in short rakes to be hauled by vintage diesel and steam locomotives.
  • Some of the older diesel multiple units like Class 150 trains, could become available.
  • There is also two rebuilt electro-diesel units; the Class 319 Flex and the Class 230.trains.
  • Battery train technology would also be a serious option.

Rolling stock will not be a problem.

I would think, that if there was a proper meeting in a local hostelry, that the outcome could be that there was a local service of four trains per hour between Goodrington Sands to Exeter.

 

 

 

 

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment