MP calls for Dawlish Bypass

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starrymarkb

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-17188408

Exeter railway tunnel 'needed to speed up journeys'

A railway tunnel should be built under a hill near Exeter to divert the main line away from a vulnerable coastline route, a Devon MP has said.

The line at Dawlish, which goes along the town's sea wall, can be hit by high waves.

Plymouth Moor View Labour MP Alison Seabeck said a tunnel under Haldon Hill would lower risks to the line from any climate change and speed up journeys.

Network Rail said the line in Dawlish was resilient to adverse weather.

Similar plans for a tunnel were first unveiled in the 1930s, but were abandoned after the outbreak of World War II.

'Trade-off'
Ms Seabeck said: "What's the comparison between putting a tunnel under Haldon Hill or trying to make the railway line along Dawlish waterfront viable.

"There will be a trade-off, but it could be that a tunnel is a cost-effective solution.

"Mainline trains go straight through Dawlish. The question is as to whether it makes sense to have the Intercity trains going on a different route."

Independent rail consultant Neil Mitchell added such a tunnel could be important for business in Devon and Cornwall.

He said: "There is a tendency in London to think that Plymouth is a pretty little seaside fishing port.

"There is very little comprehension that it's a major industrial city, as well as very little comprehension to the extent that Cornwall and the hinterlands of Devon have some very sophisticated industries in them.

"We have to send a message to government that it matters that we have connectivity down here."

Network Rail, which owns the infrastructure, said the Dawlish sea wall was resilient to adverse weather.

However, it added that work was under way to safeguard its future and manage any impact from a changing climate.

It said that a study carried out in 2009 proposed that "improvement work be carried out by the next decade to enhance the sea walls to maintain the coastal route".
 
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John Webb

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There was once an alternative route from Exeter to Newton Abbot that went inland via Ide, Longdown, Christow, Trusham, Chudleigh and to the still extant branch line at Heathfield. Information on this line can be found at http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/c/chudleigh/index.shtml for example. It was closed following Beeching. The A38 now obliterates part of the former line so restoration as an alternative route would be difficult.
 

DownSouth

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A cut-off route would be ideal for working around an obstacle to electrification beyond Exeter, and in turn reducing the number of diesel trains needed to replace the HST.
 

YorkshireBear

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It would be quite interesting to see the expresses dissapear from the coast, could you the increase the coast routes local service. Think is i still think in the summer dawlish needs a good amount of long distance trains. Would opening a diversion for the wealthier london trains leave the coastal route under invested ultimately leaving starcross, dawlish and teignmouth without a train service.
 

Zoe

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There was once an alternative route from Exeter to Newton Abbot that went inland via Ide, Longdown, Christow, Trusham, Chudleigh and to the still extant branch line at Heathfield. Information on this line can be found at http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/c/chudleigh/index.shtml for example. It was closed following Beeching. The A38 now obliterates part of the former line so restoration as an alternative route would be difficult.
Forget that route, it wasn't built to main line standards and even the GWR were going to build an alternative inland route in the 1930s.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
A cut-off route would be ideal for working around an obstacle to electrification beyond Exeter, and in turn reducing the number of diesel trains needed to replace the HST.
Electrification via Dawlish is not impossibe although there are currently no plans to even electrify to Exeter.
 
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Temple Meads

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This is a matter which seems to get discussed very regularly down here, nothing concrete ever seems to happen sadly :(

Something certainly needs to be done, although I can see the NIMBY's being quite vocal about a new line somehow.
 

charlee

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This is a matter which seems to get discussed very regularly down here, nothing concrete ever seems to happen sadly :(

Something certainly needs to be done, although I can see the NIMBY's being quite vocal about a new line somehow.
Yes devon and cornwall is filled with apathetic NIMBY's.
 

asylumxl

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I don't think there is a light at the end of the tunnel for this proposal..

I'll get my coat.

(In all seriousness it won't happen, Newton Abbot and Totnes would be cut off and they get a fair amount of traffic to Plymouth.)
 

Greenback

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(In all seriousness it won't happen, Newton Abbot and Totnes would be cut off and they get a fair amount of traffic to Plymouth.)
Agreed. Although in a fantasy world an entirely new high speed line would be driven through the hills, leaving the coast line served by a better local service between Plymouth/Paignton and Exeter plus the occasional through long distance train.
 

Zoe

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In all seriousness it won't happen, Newton Abbot and Totnes would be cut off and they get a fair amount of traffic to Plymouth.
I'm not convinced this is what is proposed. All the article talks about is a tunnel under Haldon to bypass Dawlish. It's still possible it could rejoin the existing GWML at Newton Abbot.
 

Ivo

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Send Plymouth/Penzance services via the new route (that won't happen any time soon) and have the coastal route exclusively run by Paignton stoppers? It would be a good excuse to route all Exmouth trains to Paignton, giving Torbay a half-hourly service, and then Barnstaple could run independently from St David's.
 

Zoe

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Send Plymouth/Penzance services via the new route (that won't happen any time soon) and have the coastal route exclusively run by Paignton stoppers? It would be a good excuse to route all Exmouth trains to Paignton, giving Torbay a half-hourly service, and then Barnstaple could run independently from St David's.
I'd still rejoin the existing GWML at Newton Abbot though. I don't think packing everyone onto a stopping DMU from Torbay all the way to Exeter St Davids is going to be a good idea. Then you have the issue of Newton Abbot/Torbay to Plymouth journeys.
 

341o2

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or just reopen the route via okehampton and tavistock properly and use that.
That's exactly what I was going to post. When the Bere Alston - Okehampton section was closed, it was opposed for that very reason, that if the sea breached the line in the Dawlish vicinity, Plymouth and Cornwall would be cut off by rail. WR crews used to work the SR line for this very reason

Seems a fairly serious proposal to reopen the former SR route to Tavistock on another thread in this forum, there are suggestions of reopening the Tavistock - Okehampton section, but so many proposals to reopen closed lines seem to be little more than talk
 

Ivo

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I'd still rejoin the existing GWML at Newton Abbot though. I don't think packing everyone onto a stopping DMU from Torbay all the way to Exeter St Davids is going to be a good idea.
That was the intention. Newton Abbot would still hold its current importance as an interchange. And HSTs/Voyagers that serve Paignton could run via the new route, albeit at the cost of the Dawlish/Teignmouth calls.

Again though, it just won't happen. Certainly not any time soon.
 

asylumxl

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That's exactly what I was going to post. When the Bere Alston - Okehampton section was closed, it was opposed for that very reason, that if the sea breached the line in the Dawlish vicinity, Plymouth and Cornwall would be cut off by rail. WR crews used to work the SR line for this very reason

Seems a fairly serious proposal to reopen the former SR route to Tavistock on another thread in this forum, there are suggestions of reopening the Tavistock - Okehampton section, but so many proposals to reopen closed lines seem to be little more than talk
There are, I believe, quite a few things built over the old alignment which would require significant cost to remove.

When coupled with the fact that it's a pretty circuitous route reduce the likelyhood further.

It may still happen though!
 

341o2

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Plus the viaduct at Meldon would need strengthening (IIRC it was singled prior to closure)
when was the line singled?, what I remember from the early 60's was that two trains were not permitted to be on the viaduct at the same time. Okehampton used to be where the Bude & Padstow sections of the ACE separated from the Plymouth section, so the viaduct could be quite a bottleneck. The cost of maintaining it was cited as one of the reasons for closing the Okehampton - Bere Alston section which was closed post Beeching 1968
 

Zoe

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at the cost of the Dawlish/Teignmouth calls.
Not sure about that one, they are both popular tourist destinations and if people end up having to change at Exeter they may well decide to go by road instead.
 

341o2

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There are, I believe, quite a few things built over the old alignment which would require significant cost to remove.

When coupled with the fact that it's a pretty circuitous route reduce the likelyhood further.

It may still happen though!
The WR route is not exactly straight, and has Dainton, Rattery etc as well, although if the SR route became a serious alternative to the WR route again, presumably double track would have to be restored St Beaudeux - Bere Alston and Crediton - Okehampton as well, in addition trains would have to reverse at Exeter St Davids
 
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paul1609

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I dont believe the Oakhampton route could ever be an alternative to the main line. As well as reversing at Exeter, Penzance trains would have a 4 mile double back at Plymouth. The SR route from St Budeau to Plymouth has long since been lost under suburbia, Im not sure the WR route which is in itself very slow could take all the current traffic.
 

mister-sparky

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even with the associated costs with re-instating okehampton to plymouth via tavistoke, surely that would be lower than a new tunnel round dawlish?
 

lancastrian

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or just reopen the route via okehampton and tavistock properly and use that.
You beat me to that comment. As you say there was a perfectly good and double track line alternate line to Plymouth. It was typical of the former 'GWR' men to close all the ex L&SWR lines and save the ex GWR lines. Not that all of them should have been kept open, but to be honest the logic of closing the lines to Plymouth, and Barnstaple to Torrington & Ilfracombe still completely escapes me.
 

John55

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There was once an alternative route from Exeter to Newton Abbot that went inland via Ide, Longdown, Christow, Trusham, Chudleigh and to the still extant branch line at Heathfield. Information on this line can be found at http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/c/chudleigh/index.shtml for example. It was closed following Beeching. The A38 now obliterates part of the former line so restoration as an alternative route would be difficult.
Quick question. The route seems to have closed in 1958 to passengers. How did a man who didn't work for the railways until June 1961 have anything to do with its closure?
 

Zoe

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Quick question. The route seems to have closed in 1958 to passengers. How did a man who didn't work for the railways until June 1961 have anything to do with its closure?
As I said, it wasn't a main line and would not have been suitable as the primary intercity route between Exeter and Newton Abbot. Had the GWR's inland main line route been built then it's possible the Dawlish route would have ended up closed under Beaching.
 
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Woody

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In 1937 an Act of Parliament was approved for the Great Western railways revised “Dawlish Avoiding Line” from Exminster to Hackney (Newton Abbot) and due for completion in 1941.The necessary land was bought and "pegged" out prior to construction starting but the outbreak of war stopped everything of course.It involved quadruple tracking and a two mile mile tunnel through the Halden hills.Incidentally at the same time another new line onward from Newton Abbot bypassing Totnes as well as Dainton and Rattery banks and rejoining the present rail route near the twin bore Marley tunnel was also surveyed with hopes of eventually pushing on towards Plymouth at a later date.Also both schemes were to be engineered to a minimum 1 mile radius curvature for high speed.The fact that the Dawlish avoiding line was given the go ahead at all when there was already the alternative Southern route available via Okhampton at the time speaks volumes that even then in 1937 the alternative routes available were not really considered suitable.Another issue with the present route via dawlish is that it is very indirect as far as destinations from Newton Abbot westwards are concerned.Exeter St Davids to Dawlish Warren is 10 rail miles but only actually moves you 1.3 miles closer to Plymouth,that nearly 9 dead miles before you start even.(When a west bound train passes under the M5 at Exminster road traffic heading west is almost moving in the opposite direction to the train).So you can see why this scheme was given the go-ahead in 1937 and why it is again being seen as a long term solution to a historical problem.
 

Chris125

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I was once in favour of this, but as someone rightly pointed out you'll still need to maintain the sea wall and serve the stations along the coast. The electrification argument doesnt wash either, as similarly exposed locations are wired elsewhere. Nice idea, but the cost:benefit is never going to be good enough.

Chris
 

Woody

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I was once in favour of this, but as someone rightly pointed out you'll still need to maintain the sea wall and serve the stations along the coast. The electrification argument doesnt wash either, as similarly exposed locations are wired elsewhere. Nice idea, but the cost:benefit is never going to be good enough.

Chris
It was not just a nice idea in 1937 but a real project.As for cost/benefit analysis well HS2 has shown the politicians can drive a coach and horses through that one if they want for the greater good.The slow and sinuous rail route west of Exeter is now starting to become an embarrassment in the 21st century and ultimately the railways and the wider south west economy will pay a heavy price if nothing is done about .
 

HSTEd

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More benefit to journey times by extending the Great Western Route Modernisation to Plymouth via the Bristol-to-Plymouth Line.

Electrification and ETCS for 140mph the entire way.
 
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