BBC report on Overcrowding on Tarka Line services

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CC 72100

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Using the BBC homepage (still set to Exeter as opposed to my hometown) I noticed this article about overcrowding on the line between Exmouth and Barnstaple (AKA the Tarka line)

Has anyone had any experience of this? Is it as bad as the reporting makes out? I only used the line to Barnstaple once on a Sunday - I'd have said there was about 50 people waiting for the service towards Exeter at Barnstaple, but the Pacer + 153 combo was perfectly sufficient on that day. Although Exmouth trains can be busy, particularly when all the students (not me, I still had exams on :( ) decide to go to the beach, but I didn't think it was that bad.

One user compares the line to trains out of Delhi, India (I know it's a busy pacer but really? :lol: ) whilst a DFT spokesperson reminds us that 'any company can invest in additional carriages if it wanted' :roll:

Article link here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-18517190

BBC News said:


Devon Tarka Line trains overcrowding 'madness'


Overcrowding on trains in parts of Devon has been described as "madness".

Passenger Anne Turner said conditions on the Tarka Line trains, which have two carriages between Barnstaple and Exeter, were unacceptable.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the government funded additional carriages for First Great Western (FGW) to deal with crowding issues.

But FGW said there were no more carriages available to use on the Tarka Line.

'Prefer Delhi trains'

Ms Turner, from Barnstaple, regularly uses the 40-mile (64km) Tarka Line and takes trains in India on backpacking holidays.

She said: "I would say that I would prefer to get the train out of Delhi along through Rajasthan than to try and get on the train when it's packed at Exeter or Barnstaple.

"It just seems madness. I really can't understand why they can't add another carriage to it, especially when they know it's going to be crowded." (more)
(EDIT: Also note the presumably stock image of a 142, not seen in Devon since December last year. Well, they tried - at least they got one of a train in that TOCs livery!)
 
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LE Greys

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The last bit sums up everything that is wrong with the privatised railway in this country.

"Minister, can we have another DMU to reinforce the Tarka Line next weekend?" :roll:
 

WelshBluebird

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Has anyone had any experience of this? Is it as bad as the reporting makes out? I only used the line to Barnstaple once on a Sunday - I'd have said there was about 50 people waiting for the service towards Exeter at Barnstaple, but the Pacer + 153 combo was perfectly sufficient on that day.
The problem is that, at least in my experience, the additional 153 on the pacer (or sprinter) is an exception rather than the rule. Most of the time I travel on that line, you get 2 carriages and that is it. Sometimes, 2 carriages is more than enough. But quite often 4 carriages are really needed.

One user compares the line to trains out of Delhi, India (I know it's a busy pacer but really? :lol: ) whilst a DFT spokesperson reminds us that 'any company can invest in additional carriages if it wanted' :roll:
Yet from what I have read on here, the DfT is not a fan of FGW owning their own HST's?
 

47245

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I travel on the Tarka line a couple of days a week, normally at peak time in the morning and evening.
The first train to exeter of the day is usually a 150/1 and it does get full with about 10-20 people standing but this is normally from Crediton to Exeter which is only about 10 minutes and without everyone making use of the 2-3 seating.

I'm not sure what it is like during the day but I haven't seen any Indian style overcrowding. The Paignton and Exmouth trains are the ones with the most overcrowding.
 

Ivo

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Is it as bad as the reporting makes out?
Not even close. Not including St Davids, It has one medium sized station, one small station, and a series of request stop shacks. Whoever contributed to this article has obviously never been on a train around the South-East, Birmingham, Manchester or the Central Belt.

It is much busier towards Exmouth - which is the Avocet Line. But even it is still way short of this claim.
 

Drsatan

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I've been on the Tarka Line a few times and it does get busy, even on Saturday mornings. When Chris Leigh wrote a feature for RAIL about the Devon branches he travelled on the Tarka Line one Saturday and the train he was one was full and standing from Barnstaple, although this is probably the exception rather than the rule.

Although the article states that the increase in petrol prices and the number of people living locally are the reasons why more passengers use the line, I'd also suggest that the introduction of an hourly service on the branch (except Sundays) and the introduction of the Tarka Line rover by Wessex Trains have encouraged growth.

Unfortunately the spokesman from DfT is talking rubbish. The only way new DMUs will end up in Devon is when either the Northern Hub electrification is completed and surplus 150s end up with whoever wins the next Greater Western franchise, or if following GWML electrification Turbos are cleared for the Devon branches.
 

Chapeltom

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Not even close. Not including St Davids, It has one medium sized station, one small station, and a series of request stop shacks. Whoever contributed to this article has obviously never been on a train around the South-East, Birmingham, Manchester or the Central Belt.

It is much busier towards Exmouth - which is the Avocet Line. But even it is still way short of this claim.
I'd challenge the reporter to try and take the 1716 service from Manchester Oxford Road to Buxton! Full and standing with people left behind usually.
 

HSTEd

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Unfortunately the spokesman from DfT is talking rubbish. The only way new DMUs will end up in Devon is when either the Northern Hub electrification is completed and surplus 150s end up with whoever wins the next Greater Western franchise, or if following GWML electrification Turbos are cleared for the Devon branches.
I would expect a transfer of some Turbos to Chiltern with that fleet of new Turbostars (and perhaps those Turbostar wired pseudo-Networkers?) being cascaded to GW myself, that way you don't spread Turbos out more than they already are and eliminate that Class 172 microfleet. (Perhaps kicking those Cl172s to LM who could kick sprinters to GW?)

But either way, there is no stock for these proposed improvements, even if they would significantly improve patronage.
 

Temple Meads

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A bit off topic (but still following on from something Adam said), I really do wish newspapers could make sure their stock images are correct, the Tiverton Gazette used a green and gold FGW liveried HST to illustrate a story a couple of months back :rolleyes:
 

fgwrich

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I've been on the Tarka Line a few times and it does get busy, even on Saturday mornings. When Chris Leigh wrote a feature for RAIL about the Devon branches he travelled on the Tarka Line one Saturday and the train he was one was full and standing from Barnstaple, although this is probably the exception rather than the rule.

Although the article states that the increase in petrol prices and the number of people living locally are the reasons why more passengers use the line, I'd also suggest that the introduction of an hourly service on the branch (except Sundays) and the introduction of the Tarka Line rover by Wessex Trains have encouraged growth.

Unfortunately the spokesman from DfT is talking rubbish. The only way new DMUs will end up in Devon is when either the Northern Hub electrification is completed and surplus 150s end up with whoever wins the next Greater Western franchise, or if following GWML electrification Turbos are cleared for the Devon branches.
I'll have to agree with you on that - Wessex's Timetable for the Tarka line was always rather poor, and since FGWs new Hourly timetable, usership seems to have rather rapidly increased.
 

LE Greys

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A bit off topic (but still following on from something Adam said), I really do wish newspapers could make sure their stock images are correct, the Tiverton Gazette used a green and gold FGW liveried HST to illustrate a story a couple of months back :rolleyes:
Perhaps they share my opinions on purple as a colour for rolling stock.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I'll have to agree with you on that - Wessex's Timetable for the Tarka line was always rather poor, and since FGWs new Hourly timetable, usership seems to have rather rapidly increased.
That just shows you (and hopefully McNulty) that the right kind of investment in the right place with local services can pay off.
 

Ivo

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Thinking about Devon as a whole, the Tarka Line is second only to the Gunnislake branch (or third if Okehampton is counted separately) in terms of how quiet it is. There is a reason the lines towards Exmouth, Taunton, Yeovil, Paignton and Plymouth have a better service with larger and more numerous vehicles - they need them more. Unfortunately the media will often ignore certain details when criticising public services (whether publically-owned or otherwise) - which often results in hapless readers getting the wrong impression :roll:

I'm sure we could all name at least 50 lines that require extra capacity more than the Tarka Line - in fact, probably nearer to 100 than 50.

A bit off topic (but still following on from something Adam said), I really do wish newspapers could make sure their stock images are correct, the Tiverton Gazette used a green and gold FGW liveried HST to illustrate a story a couple of months back :rolleyes:
It's endemic in our media - and elsewhere. For a silly example (which is still true despite my efforts and criticism <(), see this thread.
 

neilmc

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I had an excellent journey from Delhi to Bharatpur, not overcrowded at all. Mind you, I did have to book first class in advance and the Indian Railways reservations system got me and my wife in separate carriages, but the nice conductor with a reservations check list of lined computer paper complete with sprocket holes (this was three years ago, not the seventies) found us a perfectly comfortable compartment. And the chai wallah (tea boy) came around every few minutes with tea the like of which you wouldn't get on the Tarka line, or indeed anywhere else in the UK, for about tuppence.
 

Gareth Marston

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Thinking about Devon as a whole, the Tarka Line is second only to the Gunnislake branch (or third if Okehampton is counted separately) in terms of how quiet it is. There is a reason the lines towards Exmouth, Taunton, Yeovil, Paignton and Plymouth have a better service with larger and more numerous vehicles - they need them more. Unfortunately the media will often ignore certain details when criticising public services (whether publically-owned or otherwise) - which often results in hapless readers getting the wrong impression :roll:

I'm sure we could all name at least 50 lines that require extra capacity more than the Tarka Line - in fact, probably nearer to 100 than 50.

you'll be wanting to take stock off the Paignton -Exmouth services and send it elsewhere then?
I was on holiday in August 2010 and couldn't get on a service at Exeter Central just after 5 on a weekday. As I was on holiday I waited for the next one.
 

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The peak time services are usually well loaded of the Barnstaple trains, they get very busy on Saturdays in to Exeter at shopping times as well. Off peak they are never very busy though.
 

DavidBrown

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I've certaintly never seen overcrowding as a major problem on the Tarka Line, and whilst it can get busy with people standing along the length of the carriages, it's certaintly nothing compared to 99% of lines in the South East, for example. The line could do with a couple of earlier Sunday trains, but apart from that the timetable is as good as the infrastructure can take - in that respect the Tarka Line is one of the few that is running at near 100% capacity (though that does just go to show how easy it is to spin up a story to make it sound a lot worse than it is).

I would say that the first area to focus attention on is the Exmouth branch, which the only service in Devon where I've ever seen people being turned away from a full train (a 2-car 142 is definately NOT enough to take 10,000 people to an Exeter Chiefs game!). On that line you have the county's main sporting stadium and events, potentially two new major housing developments with two new stations, a major Royal Marine centre and Devon's largest seaside resort outside of Torbay. The Tarka Line has.....
 

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FGW are usually pretty good with dealing with the Exeter Chief games. The service is usually extended to be half hourly throughout the evening when they are playing and an HST has been used once before.
 

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Is there any reason why it was decided to keep this line open rather than the former GWR route to Barnstaple from Taunton? The former Southern route does provide a useful link to Exeter but not so useful for anyone heading to London or Birmingham and quite a few people drive to Tiverton Parkway when heading east rather than use the train via Exeter.
 

fairysdad

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The LSWR route has always been the main route to Barnstaple - the GWR route was always a branch, albeit a very long one whereas the LSWR route was a 'proper' main line (although was a 'branch' off the Plymouth line, now truncated at Okehampton) and even until the 90s had intercity and cross country routes. We can look at the GWR route as being the more convenient now with connections being made at Taunton (and of course, the line being open would mean a station not being too far from home for me!), but at the time they kept the major route open rather than the minor route.

The places served on the LSWR route are larger than those on the GWR; from Taunton, although Dulverton and Bampton both had stations, they were miles from the towns themselves meaning South Molton would've been the first major place that it served, and even then it's not that major a place and the station was still a mile from the town centre. When you think about the fact that it was even planned to close the LSWR line (instead just the Ilfracombe and Torrington extensions closed, though Torrington stayed open longer for freight - perhaps one of the reasons that the line remained open), it's hard to see the GWR line surviving.
 

Zoe

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until the 90s had intercity and cross country routes.
I haven't seen any reference to direct intercity services from London to Barnstaple in the 1990s and certainly no direct Cross Country services. I believe some services did run at one time but I'm how long they continued for. The former LSWR main line was to Plymouth via Okehampton and most of this closed in the 1960s. Barnstaple was always served by a branch off this line at Coleford Junction and large sections of it were always single track.
 
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Zoe

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The Exeter-Paignton line runs mainly with two-carriage trains, even in the height of summer with all extra tourists, it's absolute bedlam on those services.
There did used to be a lot more direct intercity services through to Paignton on Summer Saturdays about 10 years ago but it seems a normal Saturday service runs these days with most trains running through to Plymouth rather than Paignton and not calling at Dawlish or Teignmouth.
 

PHILIPE

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Is there any reason why it was decided to keep this line open rather than the former GWR route to Barnstaple from Taunton? The former Southern route does provide a useful link to Exeter but not so useful for anyone heading to London or Birmingham and quite a few people drive to Tiverton Parkway when heading east rather than use the train via Exeter.
When the Western Region took over some of the LSWR lines in the 60s they couldn't close some of them quick enough. Look at the Branches such as Lyme Regis to the East of Exeter, yje Okehampton & Tavistock route, Wadebridge, Ilfracombe etc.
 

Zoe

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When the Western Region took over some of the LSWR lines in the 60s they couldn't close some of them quick enough. Look at the Branches such as Lyme Regis to the East of Exeter, yje Okehampton & Tavistock route, Wadebridge, Ilfracombe etc.
Yes, this is why it was surprising that the LSWR route from Exeter was chosen rather than the GWR route but the above post explains that the LWSR route was more useful at the time.
 

TEW

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There did used to be a lot more direct intercity services through to Paignton on Summer Saturdays about 10 years ago but it seems a normal Saturday service runs these days with most trains running through to Plymouth rather than Paignton and not calling at Dawlish or Teignmouth.
Hardly. There are still quite a few extra services to Paignton, both from London and the Midlands and beyond, with most of those calling additionally at Teignmouth and Dawlish, with several also calling at Dawlish Warren.
 

Zoe

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Hardly. There are still quite a few extra services to Paignton, both from London and the Midlands and beyond, with most of those calling additionally at Teignmouth and Dawlish, with several also calling at Dawlish Warren.
I've just had a look at the timetable and count four services on Summer Saturdays from London to Paignton of which three call at Teignmouth and Dawlish. The nomal weekday service is three trains. The 2000 timetable shows 5 trains from London to Paignton calling at Dawlish and Teignmouth and a Plymouth train calling at Dawlish and Teignmouth giving a total of six calling at those two stations. Cross Country these days run four services to Paignton on Summer Saturdays (normal timetables is three) compared to nine in 2000. There are also the SWT services from Southampton and Brighton to Paignton so it's much closer to a normal timetable these days although there are some additional trains, it's not on the scale it used to be.
 
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burneside

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Hardly. There are still quite a few extra services to Paignton, both from London and the Midlands and beyond, with most of those calling additionally at Teignmouth and Dawlish, with several also calling at Dawlish Warren.
These extra services are a tiny proportion of the trains serving the local stations on this line, most are made up of the hopelessly inadequate two-car rolling stock. I travel on this line frequently and am appalled at the conditions passengers have to endure.
 

CC 72100

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I've just had a look at the timetable and count four services on Summer Saturdays to Paignton of which three call at Teignmouth and Dawlish. The nomal weekday service is three trains. The 2000 timetable shows 5 trains from London to Paignton calling at Dawlish and Teignmouth and a Plymouth train calling at Dawlish and Teignmouth giving a total of six calling at those two stations. Cross Country these days run four services to Paignton on Summer Saturdays (normal timetables is three) compared to nine in 2000. There are also the SWT services from Southampton and Brighton to Paignton that no longer run so it's much closer to a normal timetable these days.
Also quite a few PAD - Paigntons to add into the equation too - maybe 6 extra, something like that. And they weren't exactly heaving when I used them...
 
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