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1  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Okehampton-Tavistock. Discussion on reopening and potential use as a diversionary route on: September 10, 2021, 02:12:16 pm
Hi folks,

It's been a while since I posted on here, but having set up the Northern Route Working Group with Mat Taylor of Cornwall-based CNNCT Consultancy, I thought I'd say hello and try when I have time to answer any questions on the full reopening.

If you've read the public bid (, a lot of questions will be answered. When we started this work, I think the expert team (which includes former Thameslink MD and Plymouth and Cornwall Railways manager Jim Collins, Jim Steer of Greengauge 21, Professor Jon Shaw of Plymouth Uni, and others offering informal input such as Richard Burningham) all believed diversions would be the main benefit.

What we're confident we can demonstrate with funding for a Strategic Outline Business Case is that there may very well be a wide-ranging (in number as well as geographically) set of social, economic and environmental benefits which make a worthwhile case in its own right, and of course, providing there's enough speed and capacity, that enables our friends at Network Rail to entertain blockades on the main line to undertake resilience work and bring completion forward from the 2070s as well as saving very significant sums.

We have the full support of ALL of Devon and Cornwall's MPs (Member of Parliament) (which we never quite had with the Save Our Sleeper campaign), and when we briefed the Rail Minister a while ago, he acknowledged the RYR (Restoring Your Railway) bid was much improved.

Crucially, Devon County Council is calling Bere Alston to Tavistock Phase 2 of full reopening.

With everyone's efforts in the NRWG team and the wider community supporting it, we must have a good chance of establishing the case for full reopening as a secondary (but damn quick over quite a lot of it) main line to radically improved transport connectivity in Mid, West and North Devon and Cornwall, open our region to more railfreight by virtue of the easier gradients compared to the main line, and keep the region connected to the wider network during disruption, whether planned or otherwise.

We're expecting an announcement later this year - please, please continue to bang the drum folks. If the vast railway operating, management, engineering and consultancy expertise in the team thought this work was misty-eyed wishful thinking they wouldn't have given their expensive time freely and for so long. The case looks good: we now need funding to put some numbers on the potential benefits and costs.

I'll do my best to answer any questions you have when I log in.

Andy Roden
Northern Route Working Group
2  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Dawlish Avoiding Line - ongoing discussion, merged topic on: July 15, 2014, 05:23:01 pm
This is a really, really good study into the various options - from a railway point of view. The possibilities and limitations are highlighted, the myth of 15-minute journey time savings for new routes well and truly busted, and a comprehensive plan to make the existing railway more robust outlined. Make no mistake, Network Rail has done a VERY good job here.

But you have to look beyond the headline figures. Every cost stated includes a 66% contingency for the unexpected. For Okehampton-Tavistock-Bere Alston and improvements to the existing railways at either end that brings the figure down to something like ^300m - in line with the ^350m or so informed experts and I came up with on the back of an envelope when I wrote the piece for RAIL a while ago. None of the options are likely to cost nearly as much as the headline figures in the report.

The crucial thing to bear in mind though is that by Network Rail's own admission, its analysis can't take into account the wider socio-economic benefits, or the benefit to the region had an alternative been in place earlier this year. Neither does it look at future population changes, or future travel patterns. That's fair enough - it isn't, I would suggest, Network Rail's remit to do so.

So, in pure railway terms and on current traffic patterns, none of the alternatives stack up. But - and this is really, really important - the picture could change radically if those socio-economic benefits and the gain to the region had a given option been in place this year are considered. It's now up to the South West to make a compelling case that looks at plans for the expansion of towns such as Tavistock, and the benefits of opening rail travel to a wider market. This, as is being acknowledged, isn't the end of the debate about a backup route to the main line: it's an informed starting point in my view...

3  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Dawlish Avoiding Line - ongoing discussion, merged topic on: July 02, 2014, 09:32:06 pm
Well, it's game on as far as I'm concerned. The arguments are complex, and the costs and socio-economic benefits uncertain. What is certain though is that the closure of the main line earlier this year hurt most of Devon and all of Cornwall a lot, and perhaps more than expected. So, I'm willing to run a campaign to open some sort of alternative to Dawlish that means trains can keep running. Crucial question - is anyone prepared to back it?

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