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

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

  1. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    The sea has always been an existential threat to the Netherlands, and always will be. I lived in Amsterdam in 1969, which seems (and is) a long time ago but on the one occasion when I was taken by friends to visit some people living in some of the areas that had been devastated in the 1953 flood, those people had all lived through that flood with its c1,800 death rate in that country and it still had an impact on their everyday lives. I can't remember much detail, but I do remember the overwhelming respect for the sea, tinged with fear, and I don't think any of those people would have thought that it could ever be conquered, only mitigated against.

    What little I know about Dutch government plans since 1953, and the immense works that have been carried out, is that they increasingly incorporate the principle that not all flooding can be prevented, nor is it desirable to do so. Pick the areas you can do something about, and leave the rest. Such a policy hardly exists in this country, with one or two exceptions on the East coast of England, and then the Environment Agency or the National Trust gets all the flack. The British coastline is vastly greater than the Dutch one, obviously, but if Dawlish was in Holland I don't think they'd be throwing a lot of resources at it, but instead they'd be building that alternative line.
     
  2. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    December 1984, according to this:
    http://www.signallingnotices.org.uk/notices_detail.php?n_id=100#scans

    Exeter Resignalling - Stage 1 (Preliminary Works)
    Cowley Bridge Junction - Crediton

    The former double track was singled at this time and AB working replaced by temporary key token instruments. Mechanical signalling at Crediton was all replaced by coloured lights controlled by a new small panel which is still in operation today. Cowley Bridge mechanical signalling remained in use at this stage until replaced under later stages when Exeter PSB took over, and the temporary token working on the single line was replaced by TCB.
     
  3. Sir Felix Pole

    Sir Felix Pole Member

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    The Cowley Bridges were rebuilt in 1965/66 - the double-track structures were life-expired and single-track replacements were deemed sufficent with the pending closure of much of the 'Withered Arm' and the ending of through services to Waterloo. There was even a debate about whether the expenditure could be justified, and complete closure contemplated

    The river banks were tidied up, but the bridges pre-date the Exwick relief channel built in the 1970s .

    Here is a shot of a diverted WR Paddington service coming off the SR in 1967 showing the new bridges in pristine condition.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/malcolmbott/21801364508/in/photolist-odEcRm-Nmk13E-odDUzr-ounVVK-oeyv2X-s8a3T2-zdvG7Y-odDwLh-owTJxF-B1SmQQ-odFb86-odDJU5-odDT9k-odEYra-owXpHD-ouDoFL-owjkFg-ounWfT-ovcrXk-Dcfyjb-ovtBCV-oeNyew-otw1eL-oxePaM-odDqdL-oviUBe-ox5vwi-ovwzNd-ovgFmg-ovyJ2B-otwETQ-ovgY2a-ovwWzd-ovyvta-ovkMjU-ovwWud-ovTzzD-oePnen-ovmq7m-oe42im-oe4Ktn-ovFtP3-ovJh5U-ovkZRN-ovHEUL-owcEz2-owcAVW-ow2avN-oeCfyG-wHLiWh

    The line onwards to Credition was singled later in 1984.
     
  4. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    Many thanks for providing the link to that interesting photograph, seeing that shot has now prompted me to ask about what restrictions were in place on Meldon Viaduct at the time as that Class 52 presumably has come from Plymouth, I've also seen a photograph dated from c:1965 showing an upbound Class 47 hauled train of mk1 stock passing Tavistock, noting all that has been mentioned in past publications of concerns about the integrity of this structure even during steam operations, surely things couldn't have been so bad if BR allowed large 110 ton+ diesels to cross?
     
  5. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    Long after the through route had closed, until the 1980s, one track remained over the viaduct and was used as a headshunt for accessing Meldon quarry. Loaded trains coming out of the quarry must have been very heavy indeed, although movement speed would have been low. After the track was removed the structure was renovated comprehensively in the 90s. It is possible that with a severe speed restriction, the existing viaduct might be suitable for short regional DMU passenger rail services and occasional diversions of heavier longer distance trains. With a potential new passenger station site nearby, at Sourton Down, a speed restriction over the viaduct need not be a great hardship.
     
  6. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    Excellent point you make about the possible (and fortunate) location of Sourton Parkway, and surely if the original viaduct can be used the reinstatement costs for the Tavistock - Okehampton section will be greatly reduced resulting in a much improved BCR over NRs original projection which I think was based on a new structure?
     
  7. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    Just out of interest, given that cost of bridges tend to be the expensive bit, would it be possible to leave the Cowley Bridges as a single track structure and still run enough services to use the route via Okehampton as a diversion route and still provide a reasonable level of service?

    I would build the signals and track so that there was passive provision for redoubling of the bridges at a later date, but for something that in most years would only likely be needed for maybe a few weekends a year for full closures of the line or slightly more frequently for XC to get their Voyagers around sea spray the benefits of a double track bridge is likely to be limited.

    If capacity started to be a problem then it could be that the Barnstaple services could be turned back further west and passengers change to one of the through services, even if that meant stopping an express service on diversion to provide a good link.
     
  8. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Given how many peak hour services they manage to run between Tonbridge and Hastings with four short single track sections, I would have thought that two short single track sections at Cowley Bridge and Meldon shouldn't be insurmountable, even during diversions.
     
  9. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    It is generally not primarily a question of weight but of maximum axle load. A six axle diesel would likely have been less restricted than a Pacific, and Rebuilt Light Pacifics were permitted from the early 60s IIRC.
    That said, there was a restriction on double headed working over Meldon, at least for larger locos - whether due to absolute weight or hammer blow I don't know.
     
  10. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    SWT manages to run a fairly reliable hourly service with scheduled passing places at approximately 40km intervals west of Salisbury. There are other intermediate loops clearly but trains pass at Tisbury, Sherborne, Axminster and Pinhoe normally. If the Exeter-Okehampton-Plymouth route is ever reinstated, I can't see it ever justifying more than a hourly local service under normal operations, whether that was an extension of the Waterloo trains from Exeter or another standalone local service pattern. Combined with Barnstaple services, that would equate to half hourly between Exeter and Crediton. Running time between Exeter St Davids and Crediton from the WTT is currently between 9 and 10 minutes and note that some of this is double track already between St Davids and Cowley Bridge Junction - typically 3 minutes out of the 10, so clearly sufficient path space exists on this single line section for 4 trains an hour (2 in each direction) evenly spaced, also allowing for occasional stops at Newton St Cyres. Beyond Crediton, the two independent single lines could be reconfigured as a long dynamic loop (approx 7km) with new pointwork installed near Coleford Junction. Beyond that, with hourly service on both routes, there couldn't possibly be any justification for anything more than the existing largely single lines. Of course if an hourly passenger service was extended beyond Okehampton there would need to be other passing places, the first at Okehampton itself perhaps. Where these passing places would actually be required depends on projected running times, which in turn would be related to the economic line speed achievable, and the number and spacing of intermediate stops. For any diversionary use, the local service would be replaced by longer distance trains simply slotted into the planned hourly local paths. SDO (automatic or crew controlled) may be necessary if the long distance trains continued to make the local stops at short platforms in that scenario.
     
    Last edited: 30 Jun 2017
  11. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    It depends.

    A piece of track or a small culvert will only be bearing the load of the axle immediate above it, so the axle load is most significant. A larger underbridge will need to bear the same axle load anywhere along the deck, but there is also the question of how the force is trasferred across the spans and down the piers. The route availability classification isn't just dependent on axle load, it also takes account of axle spacing, and sometimes the more extreme structures have specific restrictions outside this system.

    With a viaduct such as Meldon having beam spans instead of arches there is the question of the amount of bending moment in each span, and while masonry arches can generally bear far more load than they were designed for this isn't true of a steel structure. These loads depend on how much weight there over the length of a span, and I would expect this to be the reason for the double heading restriction.
     
    Last edited: 30 Jun 2017
  12. option

    option Member

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    If the line is breached again at Dawlish, everything south of there is cut off;
    Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Torbay, (Paignton & Dartmouth), Totnes, Ivybridge & Plymouth


    How would a diversionary route that goes via Okehampton & Tavistock serve any of these areas except Plymouth?

    Not only would that route have it's own maintenance costs to cover, but there would still be the costs of running replacement bus services for everything between Exeter & Plymouth in both directions.


    Surely the better diversionary route is the old Teign Valley Line, or something based on it
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teign_Valley_line

    It's a much shorter route, so less maintenance costs, & might not even impact timetabling much.
    Any replacement bus services would only need to serve places between Exeter & Newton Abbot, so cheaper.
     
  13. GRALISTAIR

    GRALISTAIR Established Member

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    The link you posted from Wikipedia says the line flooded- would this really be a better option?
     
  14. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR Established Member

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    Welcome. It might be a good idea to read the whole thread first, as all these issues have been extensively covered already.
     
  15. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    In summary :

    - via Okehampton would generate more passengers, prenatally some longer distance ones if there was a through service from Waterloo (although not many if anyone would do so from Waterloo itself)
    - via Okehampton wouldn't need much more in the way of trains over running the two branch lines (Okehampton/Exeter and Plymouth/Tavistock)
    - by removing the Plymouth and Cornwall passengers from the rail replacement buses it makes getting back to those places which are cut off easier.

    However you do need to read through the thread to get a better understanding of the arguments.
     
  16. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    I'm not sure how reliable this is, but there's a news story about moving the line at Dawlish further out to sea to fix the problems:


    https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/plans-confirmed-extend-dawlish-line-1583106.amp


    Discuss...
     
  17. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    A new causeway won't do much for decreasing journey times to Torbay, Plymouth and Cornwall. It will avoid the cliff fall problems which are as much a risk as the sea wall collapsing under the track itself. It's likely service may still need to be stopped at times of the worst storms in order to protect trains from the sheer force of the waves, even if the new structure itself is sufficiently durable to fully withstand damage.
     
  18. Cliveblackpool

    Cliveblackpool Member

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    That plan sounds 'all at sea!'
    A breakwater may be a possibility.
    IMO rebuilding the Okehampton route would be a good option.
    100mph + and possibly reroute before Tavistock, to South of Tavistock, roughly following the disused line (GWR) joining the main Plymouth - Exeter line at Tavistock Junction.
    Probably they will have built Crossrail 4, before investing that sort of money in Devon/ Plymouth!
     
  19. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    The Okehampton route would never be competitive and woul cost a titanic sum of money if you want anything more than a token service during times when the existing route is out of action.

    A causeway might allow curves and sighting restrictions to be eased which would allow increased speed.
     
  20. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Depends. If you think that the section from Okehampton to Yeovil only provides a token improvement in times of disruption, you may have a point. However aspirations to bolster that routes capacity suggest not.
     
  21. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    A little perhaps, but it's still a great way round via the coast, probably a good five miles more to Newton Abbot than via a notional direct route through the hills.
     
  22. 61653 HTAFC

    61653 HTAFC Established Member

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    This sounds like the worst of both worlds to me... (though a disclaimer: I haven't visited the link due to issues with viewing most local news websites while on a smartphone).

    One of the issues with the current route is future resilience, with climate change likely to result in more severe and frequent storms, therefore breaches... not to mention rising sea-levels generally. The causeway idea increases that risk-factor, and certainly won't be much good for Voyagers.

    If the proposed causeway were to incorporate tidal/wave power generation, it may make slightly more sense.

    The cynic in me is wondering if this is the old tactic of "propose a solution so over-ambitious and expensive that the status-quo seems like the best option".
     
  23. 47802

    47802 On Moderation

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    Well I've been of the view that if you build an alternative route you need to bite the bullet and build an alignment that substancially reduces journey time, so you should be talking about something that could at least have the max potential of the 800's so that would be an 140mph electrified line, between Exeter and Plymouth.
     
    Last edited: 19 May 2018
  24. zaax

    zaax Member

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    https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/plans-confirmed-extend-dawlish-line-1583106

    The expensive way where a reef would remove the power of the waves, and the local fish would love it
     
  25. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    Competitive from where? Central London, certainly not. Exeter, maybe (probably if heading from Central), depending on frequencies, as a 60 minute journey twice an hour can still be beaten by speed by a 80 minute journey of it departs and arrives between the two faster services. However, as I've suggested before from somewhere like Clapham Junction it as quick to go either route.

    Likewise for those from most SWR stations it would be quicker or as quick to go via Salisbury.

    It also then makes the business case for redoubling the WofE line better, which then means the proposal for a more frequent service more likely. Which then in turn means that at least one service could skip some stations, which means that the overall service becomes more attractive. Which then makes the investment worth doing.

    I still think that there needs to be an assessment done for extending the current WofE services to see what sort of benefits that would bring, as I think that it would significantly increase the business case.

    Of course, paradoxical by building the line via Okehampton could then improve the case for the fast direct route as the would be more people traveling between Exeter and Plymouth and so the benefit of shaving 15 minutes off the journey time would benefit more people.
     
  26. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    The causeway will run roughly from Parsons Tunnel to the end of the seawall section at Teignmouth. That's relatively straight so I doubt you'd save more than 1/2min.
     
  27. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    We have modern multiple units, reversing at St David's takes little time.
    So a train via Salisbury can still easily use the existing line, therefore the rebuilding of the Okehampton route makes little difference to the GWR/SWML argument.
     
  28. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    Won't stop The Ham proposing it every few months though, he seems convinced this is needed. But if it is that essential to run trains through Exeter why not just run them to Exmouth, or even Torbay. I'm pretty sure the possibility of through running is one of the last things DfT will ever consider when deciding what to do.
     
  29. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    Would there be the line capacity to run services? Also, even if there was then GWR would be fairly difficult about allowing it. Which would likely limit the possibility of it happening (although I would welcome it happening as it would reduce the costs of introducing the service via Okehampton). If they ran via Okehampton calling at several minor stations and taking 80 minutes then GWR wouldn't be so difficult about allowing it.

    I have no problem with trains to the likes of Exmouth. The point is that in doing so you are reliant on tickets that cost a few pounds, which means that you need quite a few to get to £1,000. By making it so that you get tickets from longer distance passengers (where they are mostly filling capacity on trains which would be running anyway and so the extra costs involved in carrying them are minimal) you need a lot less tickets to get the same income. However you also still have all the local ticket income as well.

    Although you'd still get some through passengers with the local services and there would be some transfer from existing services, so the total amount of extra income for the industry would be more.

    Also, just because the DfT wouldn't do something it didn't mean that it isn't the right thing to do (more trains for Northern at the start of the last franchise).
     
  30. lancastrian

    lancastrian Member

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    I just wish they would stop messing about and get the LSWR route between Exeter and Plymouth via Okehampton rebuilt.
     

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