Dartmoor Line & A30 history

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HowardGWR

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In that release, the GWR spokesman said it was a 'vital link'.
Matt Barnes, GWR regional development manager, commented: “Once reopened, the Dartmoor Line will form a vital rail link for Okehampton and the surrounding areas so we are pleased to see the progress Network Rail are making to upgrade the infrastructure

So vital, they've done without it for half a century.
 
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Gloster

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Courtesy of the spinelessness of the BRB who couldn't rein in the vindictiveness of the WR.
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I have sometimes wondered about the strongly held belief in some that the closures of former SR lines by the WR was due to vindictiveness. How many of the senior WR managers who decided policy were former GWR managers who had either remained on or returned to the WR? Some could have moved up to have influence at BR HQ level, or there could have been those who moved to the WR from elsewhere and ‘gone native’, but this would probably not be many.

Although there was sometimes a bit of joshing among those I worked with, albeit twenty years later and at a much lower level, there was very little old company allegiance. I personally feel that vindictiveness against the SR was a negligible factor, although there was probably some in a few people.
 

REVUpminster

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In that release, the GWR spokesman said it was a 'vital link'.


So vital, they've done without it for half a century.
It was the A30 that killed off the Dartmoor Line. Barnstaple and Bere Alston only survived because of it's poor road links, but as Exeter has grown and is expected to grow (the population will soon overtake Torbay which itself has become a commuter town for Exeter) as the main job centre for the area the city roads are increasingly difficult to drive and Exeter Council is not car friendly.
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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Courtesy of the spinelessness of the BRB who couldn't rein in the vindictiveness of the WR.
Pat
Amongst the 12 books that my sons bought for me as a combined present for my 76th birthday in April was a softback book, just over 100 pages in length, called "The Southern's Withered Arm" by Alan C. Butcher. At my age, I well remember my childhood holidays in Devon and Cornwall, with many train rides that are no longer possible.
 

geoffk

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The Withered Arm. I had my first ever train trip to Barnstaple and back yesterday. The Okehampton line track betwwen Crediton and Coleford looked in reasonable condition to my untrained eye. Is 60 the line speed on the Barnstaple line? (subject to local restrictions, e.g. the open (AOCL) level crossings at Salmon Pool, west of Crediton) and Umberleigh.
 

RPI

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The Withered Arm. I had my first ever train trip to Barnstaple and back yesterday. The Okehampton line track betwwen Crediton and Coleford looked in reasonable condition to my untrained eye. Is 60 the line speed on the Barnstaple line? (subject to local restrictions, e.g. the open (AOCL) level crossings at Salmon Pool, west of Crediton) and Umberleigh.
I may be miss-remembering but I'm sure there's a stretch of 70 between Cowley and Crediton? I'm sure I'll be corrected shortly lol
 

davetheguard

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The Withered Arm. I had my first ever train trip to Barnstaple and back yesterday. The Okehampton line track betwwen Crediton and Coleford looked in reasonable condition to my untrained eye. Is 60 the line speed on the Barnstaple line? (subject to local restrictions, e.g. the open (AOCL) level crossings at Salmon Pool, west of Crediton) and Umberleigh.

I've just had a quick look at the Western Zone sectional appendix - looks like it varies, with sections at 55, 60, & 70 mph; these are all for multiple units, with 30 mph for loco hauled trains.

Hope you enjoyed your first trip to Barnstaple by the way, did you get to Okehampton when the Devon County Council Sunday Rover trains were running, or will that be something else new to look forward to too?
 

Brush 4

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The A30 didn't kill the line when it closed in 1972. It was still bendy single carriageway then. It can still be driven today all the way from Launceston to Exeter, through all the villages and Okehampton itself. 3 hours from Exeter to Launceston on a summer Saturday in the olden days.
Track laying now approaching completion I believe. Is the P2 road at Okehampton truncated back to the platform or still full length?
 
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Irascible

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It was the A30 that killed off the Dartmoor Line. Barnstaple and Bere Alston only survived because of it's poor road links, but as Exeter has grown and is expected to grow (the population will soon overtake Torbay which itself has become a commuter town for Exeter) as the main job centre for the area the city roads are increasingly difficult to drive and Exeter Council is not car friendly.

The A30 upgrade was certainly post closure - the closure was even before the M5 got to Exeter ( the gridlock every summer outside our house in Broadclyst might have influenced my doubts on railway closures down here from an early age... ). From very vague childhood memories of driving from Exeter to N. Cornwall in the summer it was the sort of thing you took a day doing. To be fair on the train it would also have been an all day trip!

Exeter has been pretty awful around commuter times for as long as I've been going there, given the layout of the place there's not all that much more ECC can do for cars anyway. ECC & DCC have been vaguely pro rail for a long time but mostly as wishful thinking, it feels like. Persistence has paid off in this case, at least! I'm glad it's on schedule, that should definitely be made much of when it's hit a major milestone.
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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Exeter has been pretty awful around commuter times for as long as I've been going there, given the layout of the place there's not all that much more ECC can do for cars anyway. ECC & DCC have been vaguely pro rail for a long time but mostly as wishful thinking, it feels like. Persistence has paid off in this case, at least! I'm glad it's on schedule, that should definitely be made much of when it's hit a major milestone.
Having three stations in Exeter does not always achieve what such railway facilities as that would appear to promise.
 

Ash Bridge

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The A30 upgrade was certainly post closure - the closure was even before the M5 got to Exeter ( the gridlock every summer outside our house in Broadclyst might have influenced my doubts on railway closures down here from an early age... ). From very vague childhood memories of driving from Exeter to N. Cornwall in the summer it was the sort of thing you took a day doing. To be fair on the train it would also have been an all day trip!
If my memory isn’t playing up I think the A30 dual carriageway was open by 1990 from Exeter as far as Okehampton; beyond that to Launceston etc. I think was several years later?
 

Irascible

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Having three stations in Exeter does not always achieve what such railway facilities as that would appear to promise.

Yes - and I think we've discussed the effects & limitations of the current signalling already, so I don't think that's going to improve immediately either. There seems to be a lot of land up at Central doing nothing right now, but I'm almost the opposite of a planner so whether adding track up there even makes a different service plan possible, ignoring signalling I'll leave to someone who knows ( and it's own thread! ). The whole area is a little difficult for any public transport barring the obvious larger clumps, all these smaller towns down awkward roads don't do buses much favours let alone trying to provide trains... and then the buses get stuck in the traffic just like everyone else. Maybe Okehampton being reconnected will shift some existing commuters to the area. It's a pity there aren't a few more connections from the north still, coming down that way you either brave Cowley Bridge, sneak through the back way via Stoke Hill or you're dumped with everyone coming in from the east if you go down the motorway & have to traverse most of the city.

If my memory isn’t playing up I think the A30 dual carriageway was open by 1990 from Exeter as far as Okehampton; beyond that to Launceston etc. I think was several years later?

I was out of the area then, but that sounds plausible - I remember being driven to Truro in the early 90s sometime along some pretty new looking ( and empty! ) dual carriageway, although I can't remember how far it went.
 

Class172

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Having three stations in Exeter does not always achieve what such railway facilities as that would appear to promise.
Whilst there are three stations bearing the Exeter name, there are a number of other stations within the city boundaries: St. James' Park, Polsloe Bridge, Pinhoe, Digby & Sowton, Newcourt and Topsham; in addition to Marsh Barton which is currently under construction and another station between Polsloe Bridge and Digby & Sowton that is being planned. This makes Exeter a very lucky city with regards to rail provision for a place of its size.
 

24Grange

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The A30 upgrade was certainly post closure - the closure was even before the M5 got to Exeter ( the gridlock every summer outside our house in Broadclyst might have influenced my doubts on railway closures down here from an early age... ). From very vague childhood memories of driving from Exeter to N. Cornwall in the summer it was the sort of thing you took a day doing. To be fair on the train it would also have been an all day trip!

Exeter has been pretty awful around commuter times for as long as I've been going there, given the layout of the place there's not all that much more ECC can do for cars anyway. ECC & DCC have been vaguely pro rail for a long time but mostly as wishful thinking, it feels like. Persistence has paid off in this case, at least! I'm glad it's on schedule, that should definitely be made much of when it's hit a major milestone.

Waterloo to Padstow was about 6 hours in steam days - . One of the reasons for the Surbition/Okehampton car train was to try and find a way to bypass the terrible bottlenecks ( and the time wasted in them) for driving into Devon and Cornwall, in the days before the M5 and A30 got dualled.
 

stuu

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If my memory isn’t playing up I think the A30 dual carriageway was open by 1990 from Exeter as far as Okehampton; beyond that to Launceston etc. I think was several years later?
1991 from Okehampton to Launceston
 

Class172

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1991 from Okehampton to Launceston
According to the construction timeline here the final section towards Okehampton from Exeter opened in 1987, with the bypass in 1988 and through to Launceston in 1993.
 

Cowley

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According to the construction timeline here the final section towards Okehampton from Exeter opened in 1987, with the bypass in 1988 and through to Launceston in 1993.

That sounds about right.
When I started driving (in 1991) the Okehampton bypass was open but beyond there it was a fairly slow run to the next section of dual carriageway around Launceston.

Up until the Okehampton bypass opened it was a slow slog from Whiddon Down, through Sticklepath and down into Okehampton before climbing out the other side and going along the single carriageway section until you hit the next dual bit.
It was always slow and if you were stuck behind an ancient Bedford TK as it crawled up the hills belching out black smoke (which was pretty much every time during the week, although at weekends it’d probably be a Ford Cortina towing a caravan ;)) you just knew that it was going to take ages!

That road was terrible until the mid 90s and it’s only fairly recently that it’s been decent all the way into Cornwall.
It used to be quicker sometimes to take the A38 to Bodmin from Exeter, but it isn’t now. Although the A30 does get overwhelmed by holiday traffic more and more these days.

I think the railway being reopened will take some traffic away from the A30 between Okehampton and Exeter and although that’s a small percentage of the actual traffic on that section, as the road gets more and more busy (especially through summer) I could see people travelling into Exeter by train rather than driving. Because even though the original A30 runs parallel to the modern dual carriageway, once the main road gets snarled up the old road gets virtually gridlocked ten minutes later!

Just as an aside - Whiddon Down roundabout (at the start of the Okehampton bypass) didn’t disappear until the mid 2000s or so and I was chatting to the two Graham’s that I work with this week about that.
It was known for being the first roundabout you met once you’d left Scotland (or London if you went via the M4/M5 route).
There were always fresh skid marks on the last bit of the road leading up to the actual roundabout from the Exeter direction (and probably not just on the road actually)!
 
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stuu

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According to the construction timeline here the final section towards Okehampton from Exeter opened in 1987, with the bypass in 1988 and through to Launceston in 1993.
Yes, my mistake. Shouldn't rely on memory at this distance!
 

HowardGWR

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It was the A30 that killed off the Dartmoor Line. Barnstaple and Bere Alston only survived because of it's poor road links, but as Exeter has grown and is expected to grow (the population will soon overtake Torbay which itself has become a commuter town for Exeter) as the main job centre for the area the city roads are increasingly difficult to drive and Exeter Council is not car friendly.
Yes, you can nowadays whizz from Okehampton to outside Exeter, but, as all of us know who have done it, you crawl or admire the Exeter suburban scene at Countess Weir or Honiton Road thereafter. The renewed rail link will. I more than suspect, encourage much moving out to country villages in North Devon.
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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Yes, you can nowadays whizz from Okehampton to outside Exeter, but, as all of us know who have done it, you crawl or admire the Exeter suburban scene at Countess Weir or Honiton Road thereafter. The renewed rail link will. I more than suspect, encourage much moving out to country villages in North Devon.
Do you think that will go hand-in-hand with an above average increase in house prices in the "country villages of North Devon", as there may well be not enough houses for sale on the property market to meet the inferred new and extra demand?
 

HowardGWR

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Do you think that will go hand-in-hand with an above average increase in house prices in the "country villages of North Devon", as there may well be not enough houses for sale on the property market to meet the inferred new and extra demand?
Yes I do and as I live in such an area, the incomers from the metropolitan areas will pay anything for location and don't forget that they are often selling meaner properties for higher prices so it's a step-up. It's not always a direct rehousing from cities such as Exeter but a cascading process (in my experience).

Edit: Could I add that the rural properties come free as the earlier retirees cascade to town flats (downsizing) or straight into care homes.
 

Irascible

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Ironically the A30 arrives much closer to the city centre than the roads from the east towns ( or the M5 or even the north ), although you still have to park, and if you work in the newer areas on the east side you're a bit out of luck. Mind you getting to Sowton on the train involves a change anyway ( maybe arranging some sort of turnaround at Digby & Sowton or perhaps Topsham wouldn't be a terrible idea, but for another thread - and new signals ).

Demographics over time of the Exeter commuter zone must be pretty interesting, I'll have to try & find some.
 
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