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Author Topic: Dawlish Avoiding Line - ongoing discussion, merged topic  (Read 152376 times)
chaulender
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« Reply #300 on: July 04, 2014, 01:43:21 pm »

Not true - still accessible via Plymouth, just not a very direct route, but certainly not "cut off" in the way experienced this year.  Whilst not ideal, it is only during very occasional periods of closure.
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« Reply #301 on: July 04, 2014, 02:34:52 pm »

A new build modern engineered inland route could also provide for faster journeys to Plymouth and Cornwall. The Okehampton route can't and won't provide for this.

Exeter to Torquay is 26 miles currently. A diversion via Okehampton, Bere and Plymouth onto Newton Abbot for a change/reversal would add somewhere in the region of 100 miles and 2 hours plus to the journey time. With that choice on the table I've no doubt passengers for Torbay will chose a replacement bus if one is available.

I don't think the people (some 225,000 of them) in the Torbay and South Hams areas would be appreciative of a slow winding journey through Okehampton, Bere, Plymouth and then back up the main line to Totnes or on to Newton Abbot for a change or another reversal to continue to Torbay.

An inland new route between Exeter and Newton Abbot is a win win for nearly all. Torbay and South Hams keeps its direct trains, Plymouth and Cornwall get improved journey times, operators don't have to reverse trains twice, and passengers are kept on rail with only the small populations of Starcross, Dawlish and Teignmouth affected by a sea wall closure.

Okehampton merits study for an improved rail service in its own right, but not on the back of a diversionary route when the sea wall is impassible.
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« Reply #302 on: July 04, 2014, 04:23:10 pm »

Whilst I see where you are coming from Bnm, I believe that  while we are waiting for a new line to built there is a good chance that the seawall will be breached again.

Therefore, it seems to me that by going for Tavistock Okehampton there would be a good chance that it could be finished before the seawall goes again. Whilst I agree that it doesn't serve Torbay it does give the oportunity to run through trains to Plymouth and Cornwall and rotate the stock and keep the trains running West of the breach.

Also it seems to be agreed that both Tavistock and Okehampton need better train services they might as well be relinked.

Thus it kills two birds with one stone providing a diversionary route and a rail link for a large area of north Devon and Cornwall curently without rail.

I think that waiting for a new line will be a bit like waiting for Godot
 
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JayMac
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« Reply #303 on: July 04, 2014, 04:38:48 pm »

Why should a new line take any longer to build than reinstating a long abandoned one.? All the same surveys, studies, inquiries, land purchases etc need to be carried out. Similar amounts of heavy engineering will be required.

The expense of a new line may well be the deciding factor, I agree. But a half-baked solution, that continues to leave a large area of the populace with a fair weather railway just because it may be the cheaper option, just seems to me to be short sighted.

If we have the Okehampton route with its vastly increased journey times to Plymouth and Cornwall I predict it won't be long before rail users in the far South West are complaining about their roundabout journey whenever the sea wall route is closed. Give them a new faster route and keep the sea wall for the local traffic and occasional longer distance service.

You won't make Torbay, the South Hams and the far South West feel any less isolated if their alternative rail route is a slow meander up the Tamar Valley and a sedate journey around the edge of Dartmoor.

There appears to be too much focus here on what's best for North Devon, rather than the communities directly affected whenever the sea wall route is subject to disruption.
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« Reply #304 on: July 04, 2014, 09:47:58 pm »

Clearly Network Rail are against anything other than strengthening the existing sea wall route. The ^700million plus seems rather excessive, as stated already, especially when compared to other reopening a elsewhere. If Meldon viaduct was strong enough for stone trains in the 80s then is it really unfit today?

Instead we can look forward to heavy seas, land slips and a breach elsewhere severing the line yet again this coming winter.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #305 on: July 04, 2014, 09:59:36 pm »

If the BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page) are to be believed (which appears to be a big 'if') then ^700M is the cheapest option; other options are allegedly way more expensive.

Meldon Viaduct had not carried a train since 1990. The ^650,000 that was spent on it in 1996 was about preserving it (it's a scheduled monument) rather than beefing it up to a standard where it could carry anything heavier or faster than a bicycle. It would plainly need significant work to bring it up to main line standard, but we can surely assume that's in the ^700M.

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« Reply #306 on: July 04, 2014, 10:04:26 pm »

If Meldon viaduct was strong enough for stone trains in the 80s then is it really unfit today?

That's 30 years ago, so yes quite possibly.
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #307 on: July 04, 2014, 10:18:17 pm »

If the BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page) are to be believed (which appears to be a big 'if') ...

At the most recent TravelWatch SouthWest meeting, one of the guest speakers, Patrick Hallgate of Network Rail, raised some laughter in his comments over the way the BBC had just published what were apparently his 'already made decisions' over the additional route(s).  Roll Eyes Tongue Grin

However, I'm wary of trying to quote what Patrick actually said: I've got it rather wrong in the past.  Lips sealed
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« Reply #308 on: July 05, 2014, 09:32:00 am »

Why should a new line take any longer to build than reinstating a long abandoned one.? All the same surveys, studies, inquiries, land purchases etc need to be carried out. Similar amounts of heavy engineering will be required.

The expense of a new line may well be the deciding factor, I agree. But a half-baked solution, that continues to leave a large area of the populace with a fair weather railway just because it may be the cheaper option, just seems to me to be short sighted.

If we have the Okehampton route with its vastly increased journey times to Plymouth and Cornwall I predict it won't be long before rail users in the far South West are complaining about their roundabout journey whenever the sea wall route is closed. Give them a new faster route and keep the sea wall for the local traffic and occasional longer distance service.

You won't make Torbay, the South Hams and the far South West feel any less isolated if their alternative rail route is a slow meander up the Tamar Valley and a sedate journey around the edge of Dartmoor.

There appears to be too much focus here on what's best for North Devon, rather than the communities directly affected whenever the sea wall route is subject to disruption.

If you're going to make a case against the Okehampton route,then it would have much more credibility if you didn't use Hallgate type nonsense such as this.
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« Reply #309 on: July 05, 2014, 12:20:22 pm »

With the seawall route in better shape than for quite some time, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the NR» (Network Rail - home page) "army" this Spring, my vote goes to the creation of a "Devon orbital" rail route via the reinstatement of the Meldon-Tavistock section.
   
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trainbuff
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« Reply #310 on: July 07, 2014, 12:18:13 am »

I have to answer BNM here. I believe that, as a member, Railfuture support the Okehampton re-opening on balance. There was quite a piece in the centre pages of the Railwatch magazine within the last month. Whilst I agree it much reduces Torbays direct route, at times of disruption they would still be at least rail connected and I am sure replacement road transport between Newton Abbot and Exeter would still be provided as now. Additionally I believe this nonsense of 'vastly increased jorney times' needs to be put to bed.

In a meeting in April at Exeter County Hall. Mike Gallop of Network Rail used the 1965 timetable. He quoted times of around 90 minutes for the journey. 1 hour 45 minutes including the reversal times with HST (High Speed Train)'s of 10-12 minutes.(Using 2 reversal times from Penzance). These times for the Okehampton route.

The same 1965 timetable also shows the time of trains to travel from Plymouth to Exeter via Dawlish was at its fastest 88 minutes. Is anyone really suggesting that those times are relevant to that line now? It was the same Diesel Haulage at the time for both routes. I note that Crosscountry operate HST's and their DIAGRAMMED reversal times are 7 minutes. Why should this be any different for FGW (First Great Western) other than an extra coach length. Voyagers, 153's etc would reverse quicker than this.

Speed between Bridestowe and Ford (Devon) was historically 40mph. This is true. However this was largely for economy reasons. The most curvy portion is still used. With speeds of 55mph now! The line is capable of higher speed generally. Using the curvature profile for the Okehampton route,and the formula for speed around a curve, without ANY easing of curves would give a journey time of around 58 minutes end to end. Just easing a few points the theoretical time end to end is under 52 minutes. With 1 reversal times of 65 or 58 minutes. 2 reversals that gives a time Plymouth to Exeter of 72 minutes or 65 minutes. Pretty good when you consider going via Yeovil adds an hour or Taunton to Bristol via Westbury adding 40 minutes to journey times. This makes any additional time compare very favourably as an alternative route. I don't think anyone is suggesting anything else than the main line stays in the South of Devon. But as an additional route that can be used at ANY time when the 52 miles between Plymouth and Exeter via Totnes is closed. It is NOT always about Dawlish Sea Wall or Teignmouth cliff landslides.If the Scots vote for independence where will our Nuclear Deterrent be birthed? The biggest Naval Port in Europe. Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth is the only suitable place. This cannot be left without a rail line for fuels etc.That is a matter of National and Strategic Importance.

Also I have spoken to someone 'in the know' on the Meldon Viaduct Company. I understand that a full survey would cost between ^40-50k. With estimates of the cost to reinstate trains between ^15-20million. Not a small figure but in terms of railways relatively affordable.

As a complimentary/additional route Okehampton has many positives. Not least that it will help regenerate many economies but also bring many people closer to the railway. It is possible to get a bus add on to a ticket to both Okehampton and Bude. To Okehampton takes an hour by this bus from Exeter, instead of 40 minutes by train on the Dartmoor Rover. Bude takes much longer. A Parkway station could be opened at Sourton.

In a perfect world the answer would be a HS57 or wherever we are up to by the time money finally gets spent in large enough sums in the far West. Of course while the 'extra' ^146 million for improvements in Cornwall and up to Totnes is welcome, there will be NO speed increase. Just more trains will be able to travel at the Same speed as now. This HS57, or whatever,  would be a new line linking Devon's 2 cities by following the A38. Based on costs of new build now around ^100million per mile would give a cost of ^4billion! (This cost obtained from HS2 (The next High Speed line(s)) stating that conventional railways are only moderately cheaper than High Speed lines. Cost of HS2 around ^122million per mile without contingency). Even a direct line under Haldon would cost over ^1billion. The Okehampton routes represents a much cheaper and cost effective way of solving the problem......at least until more money becomes available and time can be taken to plan this new route. It also generates wealth by linking areas not currently connected and increases business oportunities.

There is already a group campaigning for the Okehampton route. It can be found along with much more information here:-

http://prg.2day.ws/

It is at least worth a look
« Last Edit: July 07, 2014, 12:29:34 am by trainbuff » Logged

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« Reply #311 on: July 07, 2014, 10:10:18 am »

Thank you for putting to bed some of the more absurd claims by some on here re journey times (you know who you are!) and the sum to bring Meldon viaduct back into the fold is a pittance when compared to other rail or road projects.

It does however cast real doubt on the estimated costs quoted of ^700m plus. If Meldon viaduct is ^20m, and reaching Tavistock less, what is the additional ^300-^400m being spent on?

My guess us that rolling stock has been factored in, despite the forthcoming post-electrification cascade. Would be typical smoke-and-mirrors. Anyone?
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« Reply #312 on: July 07, 2014, 12:27:58 pm »

I'll concede that to Cornwall, the journey times may not be too unacceptable, although the double reversal presents some capacity and scheduling headaches. However, a wholly by rail journey to Totnes, Newton Abbbot and Torbay, will certainly be much longer when the main line is unavailable. 26 miles to Torquay from Exeter currently. Via Okehampton and Plymouth that will be around 90 miles added to the journey.

Many of those coaches that the Peninsula Rail Group have so carefully costed are still going to be needed for the Torbay and South Hams passengers. Why have they not included the costs of providing that alternative transport? Conveniently, in making the case for Okehampton-Tavistock, there's no mention whatsoever of what happens to Torbay and South Hams passengers when trains are being diverted.

225,000 people will remain with a fair weather railway if Okehampton-Tavistock is to be the designated alternative route during times of disruption.
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« Reply #313 on: July 07, 2014, 01:39:29 pm »

It bemuses that people are poles apart on this issue, but as I've said elsewhere it depends on whether you see it as a zero-sum game.

The Dawlish route is far from being a 'fair-weather railway'; it is actually pretty robust. The real problem is that there is no alternative route if the line is closed anywhere between Exeter and Plymouth. The southern route options cater for Dawlish closures, but what about an embankment slip at Bittaford? What diversions could be used during electrification from Exeter-Plymouth?

 
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trainbuff
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« Reply #314 on: July 07, 2014, 03:10:50 pm »

I'll concede that to Cornwall, the journey times may not be too unacceptable, although the double reversal presents some capacity and scheduling headaches. However, a wholly by rail journey to Totnes, Newton Abbbot and Torbay, will certainly be much longer when the main line is unavailable. 26 miles to Torquay from Exeter currently. Via Okehampton and Plymouth that will be around 90 miles added to the journey.

Many of those coaches that the Peninsula Rail Group have so carefully costed are still going to be needed for the Torbay and South Hams passengers. Why have they not included the costs of providing that alternative transport? Conveniently, in making the case for Okehampton-Tavistock, there's no mention whatsoever of what happens to Torbay and South Hams passengers when trains are being diverted.

225,000 people will remain with a fair weather railway if Okehampton-Tavistock is to be the designated alternative route during times of disruption.


Capacity and scheduling can be sorted. At present there are some 4 or 5 sections on the line between Plymouth and St Budeaux and enough capacity between Cowley Bridge and Exeter St Davids. Capacity is there. Though of course you are correct that careful scheduling will provide the highest number of trains per hour. For instance it takes 4-5 minutes for trains to cross the single line between Saltash, over Brunels' wonderful Royal Albert Bridge, and to the Section Signal at the end of St Budeaux Ferry Road Platform. This is plenty of time to cross a service over St Budeaux Junction and onto the Okehampton Line.

Yes BNM I concede about the coaches. Some would still be needed but none of them from Plymouth to Tiverton at over ^9 per mile per coach. However I believe that looking at the amount of coaches costed that PRG have actually underestimated the number used! An awful lot have to be used to equal the capacity of a HST (High Speed Train). Maybe 8 or 9? And 3 lots of these for timing reasons for GW (Great Western) alone. I agree that The Okehampton route does not improve matters for the people in Torbay, all 225,000. The status quo would be the case for them. But it would help 3 times as many people in Plymouth and Cornwall, as an inland diversion would if the line were closed between Newton Abbot and Plymouth. It will be expensive to build and will create NO extra revenue. Though I agree if money was no object a High Speed line linking the cities solves all the problems. But as the BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page) put it that really would be an 'eye watering' amount.

But as Red Squirrel points out what about when the line is closed elsewhere? The line has been blocked at various times for fatalities, cars on the line, the 'slipperyness' of Rattery and Dainton banks, etc. Incidentally the ruling gradients on the Okehampton line are much less severe than these banks so would cause less problems in leaf fall season. 6 years ago work on Marley Tunnel caused massive , albeit, planned delays with Single Line Working. That could have been eased by the Okehampton Route.

I remember a fatality at the end of 2009 on an early morning train from Plymouth that closed the line for several hours whilst the Police quite rightly investigated. This trapped much stock west of Ivybridge which meant trains were cancelled elsewhere across the entire network, as well as the trains from Cornwall and Plymouth.

A proper double track route via Okehampton adds capacity, adds resilience, adds only a little time from Cornwall and none from Plymouth and if done properly, for maybe ^550million. The shortest 1935 GWR (Great Western Railway) cut off is 7 miles or ^700million. It adds no extra passengers. And will save at most 3 minutes. This will increase the number of trains from Plymouth to London in under 3 hours by exactly ZERO. The other schemes are more costly, but they still do not pick up extra passengers and unless tunnelled 13 miles directly under Haldon will again produce zero extra trains under 3 hours. Even under Haldon (13 miles) would only add another 3 trains per day sub 3 hours.

I am not against a serious new inland route that improves journey times from Plymouth and Cornwall but this would be best served by a 40 mile HS (High Speed (short for HSS (High Speed Services) High Speed Services)) line. After all the 35 miles from Plymouth to Newton Abbot, with a few small exceptions (Hemerdon Bank for instance), is done at 60mph. This is where a new line would gain the most time. An HS line would need time to gain finance, Parliamentary consent, survey and construct and would cost in todays' money 8 times more than the Okehampton route. At a time when additional funding is paying for GW Electrification and other major projects this finance is scarce. Okehampton seems to be the most obvious solution.

None of the Options really answers all the questions. But as Railfuture have stated, on balance they support Okehampton Route. I believe them That is why I joined them. I personally believe that The North Dartmoor Route is the answer, though not a perfect one.
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