Suggestions for Dawlish avoiding route(s)

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by John S2, 5 Feb 2014.

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  1. ianhr

    ianhr Member

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    Well, it has now almost been officially acknowledged that dismantling Okehampton-Bere Alston was a mistake (R4 Today programme this morning). There is currently a plan to re-open Bere Alston-Tavistock, although it seems to be taking forever to get anywhere. So there you have a start. With Tavistock re-connected there may be a better case for Okehampton-Tavistock to provide a regional, local + suburban service Exeter-Crediton-Okehampton-Tavistock-Plymouth, which could also be an emergency diversionary route, timings would be slow but better than no link at all as we have now! There could then be bus links Okehampton-Bude and Tavistock-Launceston with the possibility of re-opening to Launceston using the more direct GWR route from a point north of Tavistock allowing a Plymouth-Tavistock-Launceston service.
    Bodmin, Wadebridge & Padstow are really quite close to Bodmin Road but given the steeply graded and tightly curved route of the Bodmin & Wenford it is difficult to see how any train could achieve a better timing than a bus.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I think this is probably the most likely eventual outcome if the money/political pressure can summoned.
     
    Last edited: 6 Feb 2014
  2. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    It would take longer than it would to run a replacement coach up the A38. So whats the point?
     
  3. JB_B

    JB_B Member

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    Who knows?

    With the existing infrastructure, last year's Summer Sunday-only services from Exeter St Davids to Okehampton were managing 40 minutes (with one stop at Sampford Courtenay) so 37-ish mph over the 25 miles or so. Not exactly speedy but better than I'd imagined. I went that way in 2012 - a really beautiful, if somewhat overgrown, route.

    Exeter St Davids to Plymouth is currently (or was before this week) maybe around 50mph average on the mainline with two stops.

    [This isn't really a serious point - I know the two are really incommensurable : little things like distance, capacity, Meldon viaduct's fragility, the reverse(s), the current absence of a railway in parts (for now, at least) ]
     
  4. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Well, it's not just about diversions (see the above post), but I suspect the majority of passengers would rather stay on a train and take longer than have to get on and off of buses
     
  5. Zoe

    Zoe Established Member

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    The A38 is fast but considering the location of St Davids station and how congeseted Exeter can get at certain times of the day, I'm sure how significant the time saved by using the coach would be.
     
    Last edited: 6 Feb 2014
  6. ianhr

    ianhr Member

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    YES!....and the Okehampton route was/is very pretty.
     
  7. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    Which is where Tiverton Parkway comes in. Right next to the M5. Job done.

    I think the calls for an alternative route are a massive over-reaction. This is the first time since 1855 that the track has fallen into the sea.
     
  8. Zoidberg

    Zoidberg Established Member

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    But, but, the track into the sea did not fall - suspended, it was. :)
     
  9. shaun

    shaun Member

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    Its a bit silly that Plymouth is probably the only city with a regular IC service which doesn't have a diversionary route (i think?), especially given the section of track concerned. Ideally there needs to be a permanent alternative fairly high-speed route avoiding Dawlish which the XC and FGW IC services can use, with the odd one using the original route to serve Paignton and peak hour /summer through trains. I know this isn't easy given the terrain...but rail needs to compete at least to Plymouth with the A38 and provide faster journey times. Exeter-Plymouth and especially Penzance is normally quicker via road.

    This was going to happen someday, i remember an edition of Modern Railways around 1998/99 highlighting the risks of mainline trains continuing to rely on this route.

    Out of interest, how close does the ECML come to the sea at Berwick and are there similar risks? At least it has the WCML to support it mind.
     
  10. gshevlin

    gshevlin Member

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    The route from Crediton over and up to Okehampton and Meldon Quarry, which is a single line, used to be a well-maintained line. I traveled it in 1980 on a railtour, and at the time it had a 60 mph speed limit all the way up to Okehampton. For a long period of time in the 80's and 90's there were 2-3 stone trains a day during the week down from Meldon and the balancing empties going back up. A lot of the track was CWR.
    Since then, from pictures that I have looked at, I think that the condition of the line has deteriorated, and I would guess that it has a lower speed limit today. There is not much revenue-generating traffic on the line since Meldon Quarry is currently mothballed, just occasional special services from Exeter and on the Dartmoor Railway.
     
    Last edited: 6 Feb 2014
  11. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    It is not a massive over reaction. All over the country (including the Eastern section of the GWML route to Cornwall) diversionary routes prove their utility regularly. I can't think of anywhere else in the country where you have not only a whole county, but an urban area of the size and importance of Plymouth left out on a limb in this way.
     
  12. backontrack

    backontrack Established Member

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    Of course there is also the Far North line north of Brora. Not exactly Intercity, but still I don't remember it getting closed.
     
  13. Oscar

    Oscar Established Member Fares Advisor

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    The problem is that this is likely to happen increasingly often due to climate change and introducing two changes is not very satisfactory for passengers.

    A new route via Okehampton and Tavistock would have to be built as a main line to eventually replace the Dawlish route. To achieve reasonable journey times it would presumably have to bypass Exeter to the north. The 70 000 people living in Newton Abbot and Paignton would be isolated from the core network. Do Tavistock and Okehampton (combined population of around 18 000) justify the expense of rebuilding long sections of new railway? Would they not be better served by frequent bus services? Would an inland route from Exeter to Newton Abbot not be much cheaper to build?
     
    Last edited: 6 Feb 2014
  14. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    Yes I agree it could get every London - Plymouth train down to under 3 hours without abandoning stops at Newton Abbot and Totnes or implementing horrible skip stop patterns that destroy local service patterns. If the existing line was retained as well in a simple partially singled form it could host an improved and largely independent local service from Paignton to Exeter. Steep gradients that may be neccessary on the new route could be bypassed by freight also using the existing route as far as Newton Abbot. Whilst the existing line retained as a local facility would still be vulnerable, its temporary closure would never again have the massive region wide impact of the current closure as the majority of longer distance trains could continue to run unimpeded and temporary shuttles could be implemented to Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth from Exeter and Newton Abbot respectively. Even freight (and engineering traffic) might be handled over the new line's possibly steep grades in an emergency using additional locomotives drafted in and positioned accordingly.
     
  15. Tobbes

    Tobbes Member

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    I'm in the middle of moving house, so my 1962 WTT copies are in a box somewhere. Does anyone have timings to hand of Exeter-Plymouth (via Okehampton) non-stop and all stations? If after say 1965, these would presumably have been tightened up to diesel timings by Paddington?*

    As the old route was twisty, it would also be interesting to think about what timings would be like (i) HST differentials and (ii) 221s with EPS.

    Thanks,

    Tobbes

    *Yes, I know that when the WR took over, they went in and ran the LSWR lines down deliberately to keep Brunel's seaside route, then Beeching blah blah etc etc.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Any new line is likely to be vastly more expensive than reopening Meldon - Tavistock, so you'd have to show that the additional costs would deliver an attractive BCR. Can't see it, somehow.

    (Or if you want a new alignment, how about a pair of TBMs straight under Dartmoor - can't be more than about 40km in a straight line WSW from Exeter.... (it's only about twice the length of Crossrail) But at 200km/h - IIRC the maximum in the HS1 tunnels, Exeter to Plymouth would only be about 13-15 mins! ;))
     
  16. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    But would it have to eventually replace the Dawlish route.

    Severe weather is going to become more frequent, but at the same time you will never be able to completely design out the risk of severe weather. Rebuild Dawlish with modern sea defences, but accept that it will always be more at risk and rebuild the route via Okehampton as a regional railway providing better links to North Devon, but one which can allow for diversions as necessary. This will allow us to manage and respond to climate risk.
     
  17. po8crg

    po8crg Member

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    Have to say that's awful tempting.

    What kind of state are the Crossrail TBMs in? ;)
     
  18. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    I think its mostly solid granite under the moors isn't it - a bit more difficult than London Clay, more like the new transalpine base tunnels. I know my route would need some tunnels too, the longest beneath Haldon forest, but it would be an order of magnitude less total boring distance :)
     
  19. Goatboy

    Goatboy Established Member

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    But thats down to the geography - the South West itself is quite literally out on a limb from the rest of the country. Which is why unlike Scotland there isn't two main line routes to it!
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    It's more than that, the population of Torbay (not including Newton Abbot) is 131,000 alone.

    Bypassing this area would be politically very unpopular. Especially in favour of, as you identify, two very sparsely populated areas comparatively speaking.
     
  20. gshevlin

    gshevlin Member

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    Boring into a granite batholith would be very expensive and time consuming. That is part of the reason that the latter half of the LSWR route from Meldon down to Bere Alston has a lot of twists and turns in it...the hard strata made digging cuttings and tunnels very expensive, so they moved the line all over the place to keep the cost down.
     
  21. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    But the only reason there aren't two main lines in the area are down to bad policy and extremely poor planning, not geography at all.
     
  22. Baxenden Bank

    Baxenden Bank Member

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    Lots of talk about the Bere Alston - Tavistock re-opening, and how this might form part of a replacement / diversionary route.

    My understanding is that this rebuilding, should it ever actually happen, is very much low cost / minimal specification with no additional capacity available between Bere Alston and Plymouth - merely a robbing of Gunnislake paths. so no room for GW and XC expresses on top.

    Perhaps its time to get realistic and send the Tavistock proposals back to the drawing board for replacement by a decent double track scheme, with signalling and sufficient capcity?
     
  23. Xavi

    Xavi Member

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    Couldn't be more incorrect as far as Exeter goes - no city in the UK has two entirely independent routes of greater length with regular services to London.

    Problem is, of course, west thereof. Okehampton to Bere Alston should be reinstated, just goes to show how pointless cost benefit analysis is when the West Devon and Cornwall economy will lose more in the time it will take to restore the wall at Dawlish than it would cost to reinstate the Southern route, and besides this there's the economic benefit from the investment spend and construction - they're on about the equivalent in
    London from Crossrail construction activity everyday. Why should Devon be any different?

    Everyone knows the route wouldn't have the heaviest usage, but it would bring widespread benefits to the region and avoid the full economic impact of any future sea wall breaches.

    Both routes can have a future. Too many commentators just don't understand that railways are the lifeblood of local economies, just like they are for London. Just because the passenger numbers don't look so grand, doesn't mean the railways aren't vital for a local community. Exeter was worse for traffic today than any day I can remember due to lines to the north and South being closed. It would not be sustainable to carry on without these vital links. There's probably the greatest chance ever that Westminster may finally realise this.
     
  24. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham Established Member

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    But they didn't all have 20:20 hindsight vision back then, did they?
     
  25. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    There were plenty of voices raised against the closure programme and the way it was carried out at the time. The Establishment chose not to listen.
     
  26. gshevlin

    gshevlin Member

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    The Establishment (if that was the right word for it) , paved the way for closure by ceasing investment, changing timetables and connections to be as uselessly inconvenient as possible, slowing down schedules etc. It was mendacity of a high order, made possible by the lack of a regulatory body with any power.
     
  27. brad465

    brad465 Member

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    Back in 1855 though Climate change and potentially rising sea levels weren't so much of an issue, so everyone is saying more will likely happen in the future, thus backing up the need for an alternative link.
     
  28. DT611

    DT611 Member

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    i would be such a passenger, infact i don't travel if i'm aware theirs a bus transfer, but thats just me
     
  29. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Me too. I've been known to go quite out of my way to avoid them !
     
  30. LateThanNever

    LateThanNever Established Member

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    Hear hear! London gets all the investment without any real examination but the rest of the country gets little investment - and then only with pseudo financial benefit examination!
     
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