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

Is The Okehampton Effect Starting?

This article on the Tavistock Times Gazette is entitled Hop Aboard The 118 For Town And Village Connection To Rail.

These are the first three paragraphs.

County council chiefs have confirmed they have launched a new bus service to link residents in Tavistock to Okehampton’s restored railway line.

From Saturday, Service 118 will link Tavistock to Okehampton, via Mary Tavy and Lydford, to provide an integrated connection to the rail services between Okehampton and Exeter during the day. The service is part of a bigger project to improve public transport in Devon.

The move comes as Devon County Council pushes ahead with plans to get trains rolling again in Tavistock — but in the opposite direction.

Note.

  1. Tavistock has almost twice the population of Okehampton.
  2. Okehampton and Tavistock are about sixteen miles apart.
  3. Buses will take about forty minutes.
  4. The railway from Tavistock could eventually go to Plymouth via the existing Bere Alston station and the Tamar Valley Line.

This bus route will complete a circular route between Exeter and Plymouth around Dartmoor.

Devon does seem to be getting itself ready for the next phase of rail development in the county.

But does Devon as the birthplace of those great mariners, Chichester, Drake, Gilbert, Grenville and Raleigh, follow in their footsteps and plan things well and get it done?

My maternal grandmother was born in Dalston of two Devonian parents.

Just before the Second World War my mother asked her if she was prepared for the inevitable war.

My grandmother’s reply was as follows.

I got caught out in the First War, so I’ve got a hundredweight of sugar and a hundredweight of jam in the cellar.

Was that her Devonian genes shining through?

Devon is certainly planning for the future at Okehampton.

  • There are plans for an Okehampton Parkway station, where the railway crosses the A30, which I wrote about in Work Begins On Okehampton Parkway Station.
  • There is this new bus route.
  • Will there be more housing in Okehampton?
  • There will be developments linked to tourism.

I believe the Okehampton Effect is starting.

 

November 20, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reinstating The Line Between Tavistock And Bere Alston And Providing New Services To And From Plymouth

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reinstating.

This project finally seems to be getting going.

The complete reinstatement between Exeter and Plymouth seems to be developing into a three-phase project.

  • Phase 1 – Exeter and Okehampton – This is now complete and trains are test running, with services due to start on the 20th November.
  • Phase 2 – Tavistock And Bere Alston – This section is being planned and if approved could be the next section to be opened.
  • Phase 3 – Tavistock and Okehampton – This would complete the reinstatement of the route between Exeter and Plymouth.

These are my thoughts.

The Completion Of Phase 1

Trains are now test running to between Exeter and Okehampton.

The full service starts on the 20th November.

  • On that day, there will be eight trains per day (tpd) in both directions.
  • Trains will leave Exeter at 06:32, 08:41, 10:36, 12:37, 14:38, 16:36, 18:48 and 21:00.
  • Trains will leave Okehampton at 07:39, 09:45, 11:39, 13:39, 15:39, 17:46, 19:51 and 22:34.
  • Trains are times to take around forty minutes for each trip.
  • The service is pathed as a Class 150/153/155/156 DMU
  • The service is planned for a maximum speed of 75 mph.

Note.

  1. This is approximately one train per two hours (tp2h).
  2. It looks like the service could be worked by a single train shuttling all day.

The Wikipedia entry for Okehampton station says this.

The service will increase to hourly towards the end of 2022.

It has been a very smooth restoration of service.

Okehampton Parkway Station

Okehampton Parkway station is to be built to the East of Okehampton at Stockley Hamlet.

It looks like it could be a very useful Park-and-Ride station for Exeter and Okehampton.

Could The Okehampton Stations Be Used To By-Pass Dawlish?

In 2014, the sea breached the sea wall and the railway at Dawlish, on the Great Western Main Line between Exeter and Plymouth. Trains couldn’t run past Exeter.

I very much feel that with global warming and seemingly increasingly bad weather that we can’t say that a breach won’t happen again.

Could it be possible to use the one of the Okehampton stations, as a terminal for a Rail Replacement service that connected to Plymouth and Cornwall?

The Gap Between Okehampton And Bere Alston

This Google Map shows the gap between Okehampton and Bere Alston stations.

Note.

  1. Okehampton is at the top of the map between the three green rectangles which mark the main roads.
  2. Bere Alston is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Tavistock is North of Bere Alston.
  4. The three places are connected by the A 386 road.

Is there a bus between Okehampton and Bere Alston, that serves Tavistock and the major villages?

Phase 2 – Tavistock And Bere Alston

This Google Map shows between Tavistock and Beer Alston station.

Note.

  1. Tavistock is in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Bere Alston  is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. I estimate that about six miles of new track will have to be laid.

This Google Map shows Bere Alston station, which is to the North-West of the village.

Note.

  1. Bere Alston station is on the Tamar Valley Line.
  2. The Tamar Valley Line is all single-track.
  3. Trains to and from Gunnislake station use the Northbound track at the junction to the West of the station.
  4. Trains to and from Plymouth use the Southbound track at the junction to the West of the station.
  5. Trains between Gunnislake and Plymouth reverse at Bere Alston station.

It would appear that the route to Tavistock continued to the East.

This Google Map clearly shows the route of the disused railway as it runs North-East from Bere Alston station.

Note.

Bere Alston station is the South-West corner of the map.

The dark green line of the railway runs to the North-East corner of the map.

As all the railways in the area seem to have been single-track, I would suspect that any rebuilt railway on this route will be single track.

I have followed the dark green line through to Tavistock which is shown in this Google Map.

As the Department of Transport are prepared to finance a study for reinstatement of the route, I would suspect that there is a feasible route between Bere Alston and Tavistock.

  • There would appear to be no bridges or viaducts between Bere Alston and the outskirts of Tavistock.
  • Before closure, there no stations between Bere Alston and Tavistock North stations.
  • Bere Alston station would need to be rebuilt.

The Wikipedia entry for Tavistock North station, says this about the condition of the line.

The station building has been restored and converted into three self-catering cottages. The stationmaster’s house is being restored as a private dwelling, while the goods yard, now known as Kilworthy Park, houses the offices of West Devon Borough Council. The track bed for about one mile (1.6 km) south of Tavistock North station is open to the public as a footpath and nature reserve, and it is possible to walk across the viaducts that overlook the town.

The rest of the track bed south of Tavistock is almost intact to Bere Alston, where it joins the present-day Tamar Valley Line. There has been discussion regarding the re-opening of a rail link for a number of years. Engineering assessment has shown that the track bed, and structures such as bridges and tunnels, are in sound condition.

I can foresee some problems, in what might not be one of the most challenging of projects.

  • Claiming back the railway from the walkers and cyclists.
  • The ownership of the stationmaster’s house.

Unlike Scotland, England didn’t make sure that rail routes could be converted back to railways if needed.

My project management knowledge leads me to agree with what appears to be a decision to do this part of the route next.

Phase 3 – Okehampton And Tavistock

The title of this project as given in the Railway Gazette article is as follows.

Reinstating The Line Between Tavistock And Bere Alston And Providing New Services To And From Plymouth

If you read this literally, it doesn’t mention anything about connecting to Okehampton and Exeter.

  • Looking at maps and reading up on the line, it does appear that the route may be more challenging.
  • The route also contains the Meldon Viaduct, which is a scheduled monument.

Until a viable plan is developed, it might be better and more affordable to run zero-carbon buses between Tavistock and Okehampton.

 

October 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Beeching Reversal Fund Bids

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the May 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Bids have been submitted to Government for a share of the £500 million ‘Restoring your railway’ fund launched by the Department for Transport in January. The fund is to be used to support proposals to reinstate axed local services, to accelerate schemes already being considered for restoration and also to promote new and restored stations.

Some of the bids are detailed.

Okehampton And Tavistock

If you were deciding what lines shouldn’t have been closed by British Rail in the 1960s, by hindsight, the Exeter to Plymouth railway of the LSWR, would be a railway that you wouldn’t close.

  • The Northern route  would be a valuable diversion, when the sea and the weather decide to attack Dawlish again. as they did in 2014.
  • When COVID-19 is over, there will be more people going to Devon and Cornwall. A second rail route would be invaluable to get traffic off the roads.
  • Attitudes are changing about zero-carbon travel and this will also nudge passengers towards rail.
  • Four tracks between Exeter and Plymouth would allow more freight services to take trucks off the road.
  • There may be new developments along the Northern route.
  • It may be even be possible to electrify the Northern route.

At least, British Rail left the viaducts and bridges intact.

The Modern Railways article says this.

In the West Country, a new Northern Route Working Group has submitted a bid to the fund to develop a Strategic Outline Business Case for reopeing the former London and South Western Railway Main Line between Exeter and Plymouth via Okehampton and Tavistock. The proposal is backed by four local MPs and the working group of industry personnel.

These points are also made.

  • The reopening is crucial to the resilience of the network.
  • Reopening is complimentary to the ongoing work at Dawlish.
  • Devon County Council is leading plans to reopen the 5.5 miles between Bere Alston and Tavistock.
  • Devon County Council is pushing for a daily service between Exeter and Okehampton.
  • The previous two developments, would leave the 16 miles between Tavistock and Okehampton to be restored.
  • Much of the route is intact and structures survive, but some track has been sold off.
  • The route will be useful during closure of the coastal route through Dawlish.
  • Journey times might be only six minutes longer.
  • It might be an easier route for freight trains.

As I said earlier, the proposers of the scheme think electrification could be possible.

Stratford And Honeybourne

The Modern Railways article says this.

A bid has been submitted for £75,000 to carry out an Economic Impact Assessment regarding reopening of the Stratford-upon-Avon to Honeybourne route.

These points are also made.

Nothing is said about whether the route will be single or double track or what services will be run on the line.

There’s more on the Shakespeare Line web site.

This is said about train services.

  • A reopened railway could provide the ability to operate orbital train services in both directions between Birmingham-Stratford-Evesham-Worcester-Birmingham providing connections for South Wales and South West at the new Worcestershire Parkway station.
  • The reopened line would provide the ability to operate direct train services with a 12 mile shorter route between Stratford upon Avon, the Cotswolds, Oxford, Reading, Heathrow Airport and London Paddington.

I also think, I’ve read that the line could be used by freight services and heritage services on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, which could link Birmingham and Cheltenham.

It does appear to be a rail link with potential.

Rawtenstall Line

The Modern Railways article says this.

Meanwhile, Rossendale Council has submitted an application to the fund seeking to propose reinstatement of passenger services on the Rawstenstall Line, now part of the East Lancashire Railway.

A study published in 2018 determined that reinstating services along the ELR and then joining the Manchester to Rochdale Line would be feasible.

These points are also made.

  • Rossendale is the only council in Lancashire without a rail link.
  • 60 % of residents leave the borough each day for work.

Tram-trains have also been proposed for this route, as I wrote about in Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?

Conclusion

This is the closing paragraph of the article.

In addition to those mentioned, it is likely that other bids will have been submitted to the fund.

It certainly looks like the money in the fund, will be bid for, by worthwhile projects.

 

April 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment