Any news on proposals to build an alternative route between Exeter & Plymouth?

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by longylong, 17 Mar 2017.

  1. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    I suggest Tavistock is one of the less improbable re-openings. There is an under-used but intact railway line for most of the way and a largely clear trackbed for the remainder, although it is unfortunate that the formation beyond the edge of Tavistock is blocked. Although there is a direct road to Plymouth (probably the reason Tavistock was closed while Gunnislake remained open) it gets very congested. Saying that Tavistock is within a few miles by road of a railhead is irrelevant: Bere Alston has terrible road access and both road and rail legs of an end-to-end journey via a park-and-ride at Gunnislake would be very slow and unattractive even compared to the current road journey into Plymouth.

    Okehampton may be different. It also has a surviving railway so it should be relatively easy to restore service to Exeter, but it hasn't happened other than various Sunday services and specials. If it was able to sustain reasonable passenger numbers on an hourly all-day service then the case for re-opening beyond might look stronger. However extending to Bere Alston would cost a lot more as there is no railway now, and it's not obvious that the benefits would be any greater than a regular service to Exeter. Like all re-openings the benefits of a diversionary route are small because whatever benefit there is has to be divided by 365 and multiplied by the few days a year the diversion would be in use.

    I can't see any reason for Plymouth-Exeter to be any quicker via Okehampton and if there was significant demand for through journeys to the Waterloo route there would be some already (they have operated via Newton Abbot in the fairly recent past). Suggesting that the restoration of Okehampton to Bere Alston makes journeys between Plymouth and Basingstoke more likely is basing an argument simply on historic service patterns with no consideration of what might have changed in the past half-century.
     
    Last edited: 16 Jun 2017
  2. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    As I understand it, the main reason why Okehampton isn't served at other times is due to a current lack of rolling stock. Let's face it, Sunday is never going to be the optimum time for leisure or work travel. Similarly, the services from Salisbury West of Exeter were curtailed so that the stock could be used to strengthen services on the rest of the route.
     
  3. 47802

    47802 On Moderation

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    I think your totally right, there people who seem to think that we can have public transport to everywhere, but its just not feasible the reality is that road transport and the car in particular is needed for most journeys in the more rural parts of the country, and even if we spent 10 or 20 billion on reopening some of the routes suggested on here it would still be the case for many.

    And even where you are not a million miles from a rail station for a lot of people the journey by car is much more practical. For instance I used to commute from West Yorks to near Meadowhall Shopping centre, nearest station to me is now recently re-opened Low Moor but its still nearly 3 miles away. By car that Journey used to take me 45min to 1h 15min most days depending on traffic. To do the same journey by Public Transport which I did occasionally would take about 2+ hours, 30 min bus journey to Leeds, 50 min train Journey to Meadowhall, 10 min tram journey, then a 20 min walk and that's the case for many people.

    As we get more Zero emission vehicles, and if Fully autonomous vehicles can be made to work then this business of reopening rural routes becomes a kind of 20 century nonsense.

    As the line from Okehampton to Exeter already exists then there maybe a case for reopening it, but of course that's in a different ball park to costs required to reopen disused routes where the railway no longer exists.
     
    Last edited: 16 Jun 2017
  4. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    A brief summary (including Okehampton despite thread title) might be:

    Tavistock: fairly easy, good case, mainly as a commuter route.

    Okehampton: straightforward, possible case, mainly as a commuter route (IIRC the reason the service is Sundays only has/had to do with the Meldon traffic.

    Access to Dartmoor for tourists: some benefit for both ends, very marginal for central section which skirts the moor (presumably a good scenic ride though, I recall driving that way).

    Through traffic over central section from Salisbury route: marginal either way compared with hypothetical through service via South Devon.

    Diversionary route: long thread on this when Dawlish incident occurred. And the one in the link PHILIPE has just posted.
     
    Last edited: 16 Jun 2017
  5. Deafdoggie

    Deafdoggie Established Member

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    Okehampton station is not very handily situated. On top of a hill on the outskirts of town, not going to attract people when the bus stop is on the level in the town centre!

    Whilst additional services would be welcome, a lack of rolling stock is the main issue at the moment, but saying some was found, then there is a lack of paths for anything much more than an extension of an existing service. Essentially therefore we are only providing Exeter-Okehampton as an extra.

    An inland route will never be built. Remember Network Rail own the sea wall through Dawlish, so they remain responsible for it. If a new route opened they would have two routes, but not twice as many passengers. If they closed the sea wall route, they still own the sea wall, so the expense remains. The sums simply don't add up.
     
  6. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    Sunday may not be optimum for work travel - but it is for leisure travel. There have long been services in various parts of the country on a Sunday catering for the leisure market.
     
  7. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Saturday is the optimum day for leisure travel. For a beauty spot you'll get more people visiting for a walk (as is the case for the Settle/Carlisle) as well as locals travelling out for shopping.

    The fact tat the Sunday service is well used proves the case for a service on the other days.
     
  8. Rob F

    Rob F Member

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    This is my favorite paragraph on this forum for a long time. There are so many here who pour scorn on any proposals to expand the rail network and seem to be able to find 1001 reasons why nothing should ever change.

    I struggle to think of any re-openings that have not been more successful than their projected usage figures. I am talking about whole lines here, rather than stations, before anyone throws Teesside Airport or East Midlands Parkway at me.

    Rob
     
  9. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    Tavistock has become quite a substantial commuter town fro Plymouth over the years since the railway closed.

    The bulk of the new development is to the south-east of the town, in the direction of the main Plymouth road, and ironically almost equally either side of the old GWR route. Unfortunately the old Southern rail alignment now under consideration is to the north-west of the town, to an extent that it is probably more than walking distance from much of the town's population. Poor location of stations relative to the town is a feature of the South-West more than most (Gunnislake being a particularly prominent example, and Bere Alston being much the same, where the rail alignment makes a semi-circle through the countryside around the small town with a radius of about a mile from it and the station being in the middle of nowhere).

    A commuter service aiming to get people out of cars cannot operate on an hourly frequency; 30 minutes would be a minimum
     
  10. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Many thanks and well put. We now have successful reopenings (in Wales and Scotland mainly) of a range of types, including suburban, post industrial and semi-rural settings. Yet still the naysayers say such routes can't be successful.
     
  11. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    Rolling stock is currently an issue, but then with the options for conversion of EMU's to allow them to run beyond the wires (319's, et al) there could be scope for more rolling stock.

    The inland route will cost money to build, but as I have pointed out above the cost of running the services (as a three coach unit, which is much more than most new lines would see as a starting point) can be covered by relatively few passengers. Therefore we don't need double the passengers, double the passengers would only be needed if there was double the number of services (i.e. full length HST's running along the new route as well as some shorter DMU's). However compared to 20 years ago we already have double the passengers, as such it may not be that long before there is demand for another line (even after allowing for 2tph (GWR) fast/semifast services which are already planned (in addition the existing XC and stopping services)

    Vary rarely do new lines need to, from ticket sales, repay construction costs. However, again with relatively few additional passengers there could be some level of repayment.

    The other thing that should be considered is that part of the redevelopment of rail services to Okehampton includes the use of freight services. As such there could be some additional advantages (beyond just passenger services) to be included in the calculations.

    One final point (this is quite a long point), never is a very strong word. Just because something doesn't seam likely now doesn't mean that will still be the case in 20 years time. In fact in 10 years time, even with just 2% growth per year there would be 122 passengers for every 100 there are currently. However if growth goes up at 4% (or 2% over 20 years) then it would be 148 passengers for every 100 now or if we look at 4% over 20 years where it could be 220 passengers.

    As such there could well be calls for additional capacity between Exeter and Plymouth and do you spend £750 million for effectively a new route (mostly limited by trains west of Plymouth or trains to Barnstaple) or do you spend about double that and only gain a very expensive passing loop (Dawlish Avoiding Line) for part of the way (as you would still need the existing line for much of the way)?

    I am not suggesting that it needs to be built now, rather that we need to look at when it should be built and I would suggest that it is something that we could need going forward and so should start to think about it. If I were to be a betting man I would suggest that it would stat being built in about 20 years time.

    20 years ago (1997) how many people would have said "East West Rail will never be built" yet here we are with it already partly open with the next section being very seriously planned and even the middle and eastern sections are being talked about in sensible circles.
     
  12. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    I think the more appropriate station re-opening in this case is Ivybridge which has struggled to attract any serious passenger numbers towards Plymouth. I think this is more likely to be an indicator for both Tavistock and Oakhampton where the current limited commuting is unlikely to transfer to rail because the employment centres have moved away from the rail served centre (and in Plymouths case Dockyard) towards out of town sites not well served by rail.
     
  13. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Aylesbury Vale
    Airdrie - Bathgate
    Fairly sure one of the Welsh reopenings is well behind too, I think it's the Vale of Glamorgan, but I could be wrong.

    I'd also be interested to see the actuals vs forecast for the Robin Hood line.

    But there is no project promoter who will actively issue press releases saying 'we spent all this money and didn't achieve the expected result'. So you wouldn't know.
     
  14. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    Zero emission vehicles will do nothing to solve congestion in the towns that you are driving to, or the wider problems of too much traffic making those towns much less pleasant places to live in. Ditto autonomous vehicles (unless technology is developed to enable autonomous vehicles to attach to each other - which has been suggested as a future possibility but there's no sign of it with the current generation of self-driving cars).
     
  15. muddythefish

    muddythefish On Moderation

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    Correct. Most of them cannot see past the end of their own noses or the bonnet of the taxpayer-sponsored company cars they pollute the environment with
     
  16. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Aylesbury Vale is a Parkway station, designed to provide an improved service to a community which is already rail served. This is completely different to re-opening a station in a non-rail served community. I would therefore say that the comparison is not a valid one.
     
  17. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    You are aware that cars supplied by an employer to its employees and which can be used privately as well are taxed as a benefit in kind?
     
  18. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    Of course with the advance in technology the cars may well now cause lower pollution per seat mile than many of the trains that you advocate replacing them with....
     
  19. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Err, no, it was a line reopening, that had forecasts that were somewhat over stated, which was answering the statement from RobF that he couldn't think of any line reopenings that had passenger numbers below forecasts.

    As an important aside Aylesbury Vale was intended to serve a community that was planned but didn't get built, hence the reason for the missed demand forecasts. Quite the opposite for most other reopenings, where the forecasts are based on an understanding of expected demand, but then many more developments are planned and built over and above those expected when the project was given the go ahead. Almost all the Welsh reopenings have had this (particularly Ebbw Vale) as did Larkhall and Stirling-Alloa (in spades). Note that almost all these reopenings have been in particularly deprived areas, where development is positively encouraged.

    The reason this is important is that the reopenings drive development on the line of route, which then drives demand. In the context of the route via Okehampton, as had been said many times before, it is unlikely that significant extra development above that already planned would be permitted because a) it is not a particularly deprived area, b) the local authority may not welcome the scale of development seen in other reopenings and c) much of it is in a national park.
     
    Last edited: 18 Jun 2017
  20. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Most modern cars already do in terms of emissions per occupied seat mile for most rural railways...
     
  21. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    There may have been an existing line, however there was never a station in the location previously, therefore it is not comparable to reopening to communities such as Tavistock and Okehampton which exist but are not rail connected. The presence of potential housing development at Tavistock doesn't negate the fact that the majority of passengers will most likely come from the existing settlements.

    The presence of the National park will prevent development along the central section, however it also provides leisure opportunities which can be rail served.
     
    Last edited: 18 Jun 2017
  22. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    The big pollution cost for most vehicles is their construction, as such cars which are used for shorter periods of time can still be much more damaging to the environment than other vehicles.

    It also depends on loadings, most cars will be relatively lightly used compared to most trains.

    The other thing is that a car tends to encourage more miles to be driven as the fixed costs of ownership are so high and the extra cost of driving more miles is fairly low, whilst the cost of public transport travel is more level in that you pay broadly the same each time you use it (i.e. 100 journeys between the same two points is broadly 1/10 the cost of 1000 journeys and is still broadly the she cost as the first time that journey is made - obviously things like time and season tickets alter the numbers but not by the she level).
     
  23. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    All very well, but misses the point (again) that my answer was to dispel the notion that all line reopenings exceed their planned forecasts. They don't.

    The reasons they don't are important to understand for organisations promoting the potential reopening of other lines, as banks / Government are not going to put up several hundred million quid hard cash unless they can be sure they are going to get their money back.
     
  24. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    My point would be that the mid-Devon rail route bears far more resemblance to the Borders railway reopening which many would have seen as a basket case and yet which has exceeded expectations. Both lines are lengthy and rural in nature, both rely to an extent on housing development, both link existing communities which have not been rail served for many years and both serve countryside areas with leisure potential.
     
  25. muddythefish

    muddythefish On Moderation

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    ..... but they're quite happy to spend hundreds of millions upgrading and / or building a new road.
     
  26. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    I don't think anyone is arguing that this isn't a good idea.

    I also don't think anyone is arguing that the Government shouldn't put more focus than they already do - and in my view, more of our taxpayers cash too - but I appreciate that's not a view everyone shares.

    Despite all that it strikes me that there are far more pressing uses of any money which does become available. I also think we need to be very clear that the Borders Railway had a very weak business case and any comparison with it really is not a good idea. Much as I am pleased it opened as it did, it's still pretty clear that we would all be better off if the money had been used for something else.

    There are so many locations where stations could be built on existing lines or the service could be significantly improved, or short branch lines constructed than doing lots of new building between Okehamton and Tavistock.
     
  27. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    The answer to this is a political one. Increase fuel duty, implement congestion charging in all of the major UK cities, and decrease the maximum speed limit to 60mph and you will soon see cash moving away from roads and into the suddenly more competitive alternatives of active modes and public transport. But how likely do you think any of those things are? I'm in favour of all of those ideas on their own merits, but they would have the side-effect of supporting rail business cases - but how likely are any of them?
     
    Last edited: 19 Jun 2017
  28. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    The issue is that a lot of the improvements that could be done (short branch lines, new stations, etc.) Will most likely only increase loadings on existing services.

    The advert of the Okehampton reopening is that although there will be some of that, if it were to be an extension to the WofE services, is that the majority of passengers would be contained to the extended services. As such there would be limited need for other works to allow for capacity.

    Mostly it would be limited to running longer trains, or at worse the redoubling of more of the WofE line. The latter would then bring its own benefits.
     
  29. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Why not make a comparison with the Borders railway. The only thing exposed by the weak business case is the inadequacy of the methodology used in developing the business case. Frankly, a set of meaningless numbers that aren't worth the paper they're written on are less important than the characteristics that the routes, one of which has been a resounding success, share.

    I agree that there is a lot of potential for reopening stations on existing routes. The emphasis should be driving down the cost of these so that they provide value for money, much like the old WYPTE managed thirty years ago. It should certainly not be used as an excuse not to reinstate useful local cross country links.
     
  30. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    You can argue about the methodology all you like, but it is...

    a) what it is
    b) consistent between all modes
    c) by a long way better for rail than the methodology used pre-1997
    d) a well developed, researched and econometric method of assessment

    To say outputs of a business case using this assessment method are 'meaningless' and 'aren't worth the paper they're written on' is, frankly, an insult to the dozens of transport professionals and politicians (of all the main parties) who developed and improved the assessment methodology over the past two decades. Let alone the hundreds of people who spend their working lives using the assessment methodology to justify projects and secure funding for thousands of transport projects every year that benefit society.
     

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