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

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

  1. Hagbard Celine

    Hagbard Celine Member

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    Report into year one of the Borders Railway is here.

    Total numbers compared very well with projections for the line as a whole but Borders stations greatly exceeded projections while Midlothian stations recorded a fraction of expectations.
     
  2. Olaf

    Olaf Established Member

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    Perhaps there is a good business idea in Augmented Reality head sets that simulate all of the fantasy railways such people would want, and let the rest of us make a profit out of it.
     
  3. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    I think there's a need to look at the wording of this subject: it's the alternative routeing between Exeter and Plymouth that's being considered. Given the large stretches of railway and railway land extant then an obvious candidate for such a proposal would be via Okehampton and then connecting to the Gunnislake branch with new build, but the question of how many passengers would be using Okehampton or even Tavistock is almost incidental, and could be considered a bonus. In other words, what case would there be for this route without any stations on it whatsoever, non-stop? If there can begin to be an economic case constructed, then start to factor in Tavistock etc in the hope that those figures might just tip the balance. I can well understand the scepticism shown by many towards this, but your view is probably in part determined by how you regard the possibility of a breach of the line in the Dawlish area in the immediate future. I happen to believe there's a very real chance that the line could not only be breached again within the next decade, say, but that it could suffer much more catastrophically than before. If half a billion or less could achieve an alternative route (which some say is possible) then I think the SW proper (not pretend SW like Bristol and Bath, which are becoming outer Western suburbs of London) deserves to have this spent, in part as recompense for lack of transport infrastructure spending over decades.
     
  4. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Very well put. The route through Dawlish will have another section washed away at some point I think and at the moment it all seems to have been forgotten about. It probably won't be for a couple of years but it only needs a combination of the same factors to cause the same again.
     
  5. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR Established Member

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    Oi! Glos, Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset consist of 4/6 of the South West Region. They start saying 'ooh aar' at Salisbury, Swindon and Wimborne.
     
  6. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

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    The reality is that we cannot possibly know when the next combination of unfavourable meteorological and tidal conditions will occur. All that experience tells us is that they seem to be happening more frequently over the long-term but not the exact frequency. It should also be remembered that the works that took place after the last breach have in themselves improved the resilience of the route to some degree. So it's quite possible that the next "wrong" storm will do no more than cause a few hours of closure while the big waves make running trains too risky.

    None of the above removes the need to consider a long-term solution. But equally that solution doesn't necessarily have to be the re-opening of the Dartmoor route or indeed construction of a brand new bypass line. One of the factors in deciding on the preferred solution is a major hydrographic study of the wider Exe estuary. It might turn out that some sort of breakwater, or even barrage, provides a more cost-effective solution than doing anything with the railway.

    And it's not just downstream of Exeter that needs to be considered. As I recall it flooding causing damage and line closure at Cowley Bridge is happening more frequently than at Dawlish. It also affects access to the line leading to Okehampton. The bigger picture is more than just the Dawlish sea wall.
     
    Last edited: 24 Jun 2017
  7. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    It certainly is and obviously Cowley Bridge Junction is quite close to my heart (and house). Once the weirs are removed from the river near us then apparently the level of the Exe should drop by about a metre and a half. We'll see what happens I suppose, hopefully it'll work and the flooding at the junction will be rectified (and not redirected into our front garden).

    I'm not sure what'll end up happening generally down here but I think Network Rail's hand will be forced eventually because of a combination of factors.
    The repair job that was done at Marine Parade was excellent though and is now probably one of the stronger bits of the sea wall stretch, but the section from Parsons Tunnel to Teignmouth is very vulnerable, with the added complication of unstable cliffs and no decent road access.
    The storms that caused the damage at Dawlish were not a one off, but could well be the start of a pattern that'll be repeated more and more often.
    But as others have said upthread - The wall will have to be maintained anyway regardless of even if the money for an avoiding line was miraculously found.

    I could see some kind of breakwater being built first though, to take the sting out of the waves at their highest.
    It would dramatically alter the look of the area though.
     
    Last edited: 24 Jun 2017
  8. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    You're quite right - the Cowley Bridge problem is more pervasive than that at Dawlish, in terms of frequency of the problem. However, CB is not on an exposed coastline and so its vicissitudes are more easily solved, with sufficient thought and money. It is not only the line at Dawlish that is at risk but the properties beyond and the whole cliff. I'm just old enough to remember the devastation at Jaywick Sands in Essex, reinforced by visiting the area during summer holidays the couple of years after, and it preyed on my young mind. We now have these South-Westerly gales throughout the year, not just in the winter months, and a Spring Tide and one of these is probably going to coincide during the next couple of years, hopefully without disruption.
     
  9. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    Cowley Bridge has been a problem as far back as I, and then older Taunton footplate crews, can recall. From steam days there were plenty of stories of going through with the water coming up to the ashpan and putting the fire out. Of course, nowadays service would be suspended. The railway is too low down relative to the flood level of the river. Because of the junction with the Barnstaple line, bridging the river, it's not practical to raise the track level without building a new bridge.

    Something which one day someone will bite the bullet and have it done. I'm sure if only the main line was impacted it would have been done long ago, but the cost of the Barnstaple line bridge probably exceeds the branch revenue for the next 50 years, and fails any investment test.

    The old GWR seems more liable to flooding than other routes. It's not something you can just stick on Brunel, as one of the worst is Chipping Sodbury tunnel on the Badminton line, which was not built until about 1900, and is another location where considerable expenditure seems to have achieved little.
     
  10. Rapidash

    Rapidash Member

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    The line at Dawlish is already better protected than a few years back- There's a vast number of boulders being put in place for energy absorption at the moment, as part of a large coastal defence project - Devon Live

    Between this project, and the upgrade in materials used for the repairs, I can't see it getting wrecked in a long time.

    P.S don't forget us Torbayans, just as important as the Janners, ta! ;)
     
  11. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    This is interesting and when I get a chance I'll ask my dad about it as he used to be involved in flood defences in the south west and may know what's happening.
    It seems to read like it's just the Dawlish Warren end that's being safeguarded though, not the most vulnerable part from there to Teignmouth?
     
  12. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    Pushing the problem further down? The water has to go somewhere.
     
  13. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    A second rail link to Plymouth would mean that under normal operations that any increase in passenger numbers between Plymouth and Exeter, especially if long distance services also ran over the link, would then be split between the two lines. As such it could mean that there was more space on the existing services for passengers from locations between the two served by existing services.

    Also, longer term, it could make the case for a significant investment in extra capacity and faster speeds for the South West. Maybe even a new high speed route (at least out of London), given that there would be a clear market as there would be 3tph out of London (or at least the South East) which run to West of Exeter.
     
  14. takno

    takno Established Member

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    That would be true of a river. It's not really the same with the sea, where what you're trying to do is exhaust the kinetic energy of the tide before it gets to a sea-wall it can underscrub or fly over. You do by making it wash over a long shallow beach of sand and rocks. I could be wrong, but I'm not aware of the high tide actually being higher than the sea-wall there.
     
  15. Shaw S Hunter

    Shaw S Hunter Established Member

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    Interesting news. Reading between the lines the fact that the focus of this scheme is on Dawlish Warren suggests that there is more concern about flooding there now rather than at Dawlish itself. Which may also mean that Network Rail's endeavours have indeed made the situation at Dawlish very much better than before. I guess we will find out over the next few winters.

    It's also worth noting that the scheme costs just £14M: that sum might not even cover replacement of Meldon Viaduct if the Dartmoor Line was to be re-opened. And yes, securing the coastal route keeps Torbay connected too, something completely impossible for the Dartmoor Line to do.
     
  16. takno

    takno Established Member

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    Wasn't the beach at Dawlish Warren washed away subsequent to the sea wall repair? I seem to remember it was in the last couple of years.
     
  17. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    You're right, it's not the same with the sea. I wasn't intending to be literal, more pointing out that you can pour (unfortunate verb, perhaps:)) resources into a problem and that problem resurfaces a little way away, because it's the next point of least resistance. Man will never conquer the sea.
     
  18. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    The marine civil engineering profession beg to differ, and have countless examples of breakwaters, sea defences, and such like to demonstrate this.
     
  19. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    There's a fair chunk of the Netherlands that also has something to say on the subject.
     
  20. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    Very few, if any, are suggesting that the existing line closes. Yes if there was another breach then Torbay would be reliant on buses, however they wouldn't be testing to get on buses at the same time as everyone else heading further west.

    It would mean that for many services 50-100 people on a 630 seat train would get off at Exeter and get into a bus to go to South Devon rather than 450-600 people get off a train to exit the station. As such it would be less chaotic on the station, there would be less risk on getting the wrong bus and it is more likely that they would be able to get on the first two buses.

    Yes it would be far from ideal, but it would still be an improvement over the existing. The other thing is that with an increase in frequency of services between Plymouth and Exeter that the business case to build the DAL improves, regardless of which route they start using.

    As once the DAL is built it would improve journey times and allow a more frequent service that could mean that some passengers switch back from the Okehampton line to the existing line. However by then rail numbers may have increased so that such a loss wood make little difference.
     
  21. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    When I read about the worldwide decline in sea levels, then I'll agree with you.
     
  22. takno

    takno Established Member

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    Oh come on. The rising sea levels are a sign of man drowning the sea in extra water. If that isn't conquering it I don't know what is!
     
  23. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    Trouble is, if the current Tory-DUP agreement is anything to go by, any money the DUP pork-barrels out of the Government would probably not be for rail. More likely they'd be demanding a new motorway from Tavistock to Okehampton, along with air fare reductions for flights to Exeter airport.
     
  24. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    Whereas St Jeremy of Corbyn was promising nationalisation, so you can safely assume any additional money promised to the railways would have been spent on pay demands from the RMT who would have been threatening a national rail strike of the kind we haven't seen since the 1980s.

    That, and the SNP & Plaid would have demanded any further money went to their provinces as repayment for keeping St Jeremy's government afloat.
     
  25. takno

    takno Established Member

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    They'll be after the Barnett residuals for their nations on the Northern Ireland money anyway. The main risk from Scotland is that the Tory MPs could decide to make a fuss about extra money, given that there are more of them from Scotland than there are DUP MPs
     
  26. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Oh come now tbtc, you're not seriously expecting us to believe that the extension to the Borders was built and planned without expecting regular travel to originate from the Borders stations ?

    All the stations will have had originating traffic projected, which contributes the "bread and butter" of the route's traffic. Visiting traffic is the extra. It just so happens that the butter is rather more thickly spread in the Borders area.

    In terms of the report, it makes interesting reading. If only Dr Beeching had appreciated the difference between originating and visiting traffic, it might have saved us a lot of disastrous closures.
     
  27. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    I thought it would be interesting to some to share these two pictures of past floods at Cowley Bridge.

    The first one is an engraving from 1866. I should imagine there was a fair amount of disruption that week although the trains still seem to be running.

    The second one is from the 1960 floods which damaged many houses alongside the Exe around Okehampton Road in Exeter - this was before the flood relief was built.
    Apparently the water came up to our front step that year, but not actually into the houses. Touch wood it's not come anywhere near us since the flood relief was built.
    Photos from the Exeter Memories site.
     

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  28. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    The 1960 floods caused various diversions, I believe the Up Atlantic Coast Express from Ilfracombe and Torrington came via Barnstaple through Taunton, and down to Yeovil, behind an N 2-6-0. Notably it wasn't disrupted at Langport West, which was generally the first location in the West Country to get flooded, most years in fact.
     
  29. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    Wonder if the beer got watered down in the nearby Cowley Bridge Inn on that occasion? The two signalmen at the junction box windows must be waiting for the lifeboat to attend, on a more serious note I wonder if the North Devon Line Bridge had to be rebuilt as a single deck due to the new flood relief scheme or was track rationalisation purely the reason?
     
  30. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    Hm I'd like to know that myself actually. I think they rerouted the river where it joins the Creedy to the left of the pictures, the Exe splits and joins again here but the Crediton side is known as the Creedy while the bit near the mainline is the Exe. The Creedy/Exe section curved a lot further towards the Barnstaple line and Cowley but was straightened out when they built the flood relief I believe.
    I've got an old map that a neighbour gave me that shows how much it's changed.
    I've never been quite sure when the line towards Crediton was singled but this map from about 1972 shows it as single over the bridges and also Exe Bridges have been built and opened - the old Exe Bridge although very handsome caused flood water to back up against it.
     

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    Last edited: 27 Jun 2017

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