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Author Topic: Heathfield Branch Line - freight use and campaign to restore passenger services  (Read 9594 times)
Devon Big Bird
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« on: December 07, 2011, 08:11:48 PM »

Apologies if this is old news, but good to see that the Heathfield branch is coming back to life (and it even appears the 142 didn't chew the line up too badly  Cheesy)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-16069387

Note the quote - "The branch has not seen a train for many years and needed to be capable of taking freight trains again," I could be cruel here!

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Umberleigh
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2011, 12:54:01 PM »

Good news indeed. Always thought that this branch would be a good candidate for a steam heritage railway; mainline connection and a charming route, much of it through a Devon Wildlife Trust site. However, would much rather see it continue as a revenue earning freight line - the wider area is not short of steam!

Credit where due to the relevant local authorities for including this branch in their transport plan(s), even when there were no freight traffic flows.

Shame that the sidings were lifted at Lapford, as this station used to handle timber from Eggesford forest up until the 80's (amongst other freight) and thus might have attracted similar freight traffic today.

If you google "Heathfield timber freight" there are a number of sites with photos and operational info.


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Devon Big Bird
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2011, 08:10:44 PM »

Or another option, I know that the Trading Estate in Heathfield is currently in full recession mode however longer term, what about an option for light rail, pushing towards Bovey Tracey (and it's catchment of commuters to Exeter and Plymouth). Stops at Stover (and even a branch to 'Devon Disneyland' a.k.a. Trago Mills?)

One step further (light blue touchpaper), run from Bovey / Heathfield to Paignton (or Churston for Brixham). I know it would mean sacrificing mainline services to my local branch but if it meant a more regular service with light rail?

There would be the problem of crossing the Main at NTA but...

« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 08:43:09 PM by Devon Big Bird » Logged
grahame
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2014, 11:22:55 PM »

Quote
The weekly freight train, consisting of 14 wagons, will carry about 600 tonnes of timber.

Patrick Hallgate from Network Rail said rail freight could offer businesses a cheaper, quicker and more practical alternative to moving goods by road.

"Without the railway, the anticipated growth in freight traffic over the next 30 years would mean an extra 1.5m lorry journeys on Britain's roads each year," he said.

"Each freight train can take about 60 lorries off the roads and by shifting traffic from already congested roads to rail will bring greater future benefits."

We've talked a great deal about passengers along the seawall ... how much freight uses the line in a typical week, and what's happening with that for the next couple of months?
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ReWind
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2014, 11:31:51 AM »

Quote
The weekly freight train, consisting of 14 wagons, will carry about 600 tonnes of timber.

Patrick Hallgate from Network Rail said rail freight could offer businesses a cheaper, quicker and more practical alternative to moving goods by road.

"Without the railway, the anticipated growth in freight traffic over the next 30 years would mean an extra 1.5m lorry journeys on Britain's roads each year," he said.

"Each freight train can take about 60 lorries off the roads and by shifting traffic from already congested roads to rail will bring greater future benefits."

We've talked a great deal about passengers along the seawall ... how much freight uses the line in a typical week, and what's happening with that for the next couple of months?

As a regular visitor to Dawlish (in particular, Gays Creamery), I rarely see any freight traffic along the sea wall.  The little I do see tends to be short China Clay trains or engineers trains.

A bit of speculation now admittedly, but I would presume freight from Cornwall is being transported by road to Exeter Riverside whereby a possible return to rail for the remainder of the journey is possible?
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trainbuff
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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2014, 03:47:16 PM »

I certainly have not seen any freight being transferred from road to rail at Exeter Riverside or Taunton either. I think once the logs are place on lorries they will stay on them. Sad to say but this could be another reason we need an alternative. I fear freight from Devon AND Cornwall......and I know there is not much.....will be lost to the roads.

That may also be a reason why little freight is carried in Devon and Cornwall. It is not reliable to do so. Either due to Cowley Bridge (2012-2013) and Dawlish Sea Wall this year.

I sincerely hope I am wrong with my pessimism
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des5564
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2014, 08:22:33 PM »

I work in the road haulage industry and know local hauliers are being paid well over the going rate to take clay from St Austell to Stoke.
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Cynthia
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2014, 09:30:41 PM »

Quote
The weekly freight train, consisting of 14 wagons, will carry about 600 tonnes of timber.

Patrick Hallgate from Network Rail said rail freight could offer businesses a cheaper, quicker and more practical alternative to moving goods by road.

"Without the railway, the anticipated growth in freight traffic over the next 30 years would mean an extra 1.5m lorry journeys on Britain's roads each year," he said.

"Each freight train can take about 60 lorries off the roads and by shifting traffic from already congested roads to rail will bring greater future benefits."

We've talked a great deal about passengers along the seawall ... how much freight uses the line in a typical week, and what's happening with that for the next couple of months?

I love the last paragraph of the quote, it got me wondering what percentage of freight is carried by rail nationwide.  Anyone got any figures?

Mod Note:  Edited to fix quotes
« Last Edit: February 21, 2014, 11:16:16 PM by bobm » Logged

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Umberleigh
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« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2014, 11:08:58 AM »

Sadly, freight traffic in Devon & Cornwall has been decimated in recent years:

Meldon stone
Moorswater cement
Bitumen from Plymouth
The Fawley tanks
The china clay (?) from Tavistock Junction
Scrap metal from Plymouth

Some lost to road transport, some due to closures of plants.

What remains is the clay traffic in Cornwall, some limited clay traffic into Devon and beyond, aggregates to Newton Abbot and Exeter, and limited MoD traffic on the Gunnislake line, and possibly Alphington scrap metal. Oh, and nuclear flasks from Devonport.

Heathfield has now ceased as all timber has been moved, although reasonable to assume this might re-commence in the future.

A sorry tale compared with much of  the rest of the country, where rail freight operators are investing in new 66's and those 'Bulldog' electric locos.

Rumours include Co-op and Tesco looking to run containers in the future, although 'South-West' could literally mean anywhere from Bristol to Penzance (!)
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Cynthia
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« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2014, 09:44:00 PM »

Depressing reading.  As an active Co-op member I rattle their cage every now and then on the subject of transport.  Any other Co-op members out there might have had a mail from the Co-op asking them to complete a survey, about the future of the Co-op.  If you haven't already completed it, now's your chance to  mention transport, specifically rail.  I noticed a while back a thread mentioning 'Go-op', but there doesn't seem to be a lot of action from the embryonic transport Co-op.  We need more investors/members!
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johnneyw
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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2017, 11:14:14 PM »

http://m.devonlive.com/railway-group-want-to-reopen-the-heathfield-branch-line/story-30394003-detail/story.html
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Pb_devon
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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2017, 12:06:01 PM »

Not at all understanding the "and connect to Buckfastleigh" bit.
This idea has been discussed at length on another forum (RMweb) with large dollops of informed sceptisism.
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johnneyw
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2017, 12:44:57 PM »

Seems to be that the Buckfastliegh bit was reporting error by the local press.
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Andy
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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2017, 02:01:06 PM »

Thanks for clarifying that Buckfastleigh was a reporting error. It made no sense. If there was to be a hook-up with any 'heritage' line, It'd be more sensible to run through from Heathfield to Kingswear via Newton Abbot and Paignton, I'd have thought. With the South Devon and Paignton-Dartmouth lines so close by, a separate heritage operation at Heathfield operation would struggle.

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grahame
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« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2017, 04:43:31 PM »

Thanks for clarifying that Buckfastleigh was a reporting error. It made no sense. If there was to be a hook-up with any 'heritage' line, It'd be more sensible to run through from Heathfield to Kingswear via Newton Abbot and Paignton, I'd have thought. With the South Devon and Paignton-Dartmouth lines so close by, a separate heritage operation at Heathfield operation would struggle.

A heritage operation needs some traffic "drivers" to being people and passengers (so does a regular public service railway, come to that) and I'm struggling to see the drivers for a Newton Abbott to Heathfield service at the moment.  Drivers might be scenery, provision of steam or heritage diesel in a part of the UK where there was none, access to an attraction or attractive area, especially if car parking at that attraction was limited. Alas, I've not seen any of those factors here in great enough quantity / clearly enough proposed to make it work. 

A park and ride station on the A38 with through trains to Torbay and Kingswear for Dartmouth might be worth a serious look - but what cost crossing the West of England main line?    I posted the "oddities and peculiarities" weekend from the Ffestiong yesterday - and one wonders about a similar standard gauge running an test track. You could look at covering over the Heathfield line bay / having 2 tracks in there and use it for heritage EMUs  - that would being a specialist EMU market and (?) the first electric trains in Devon.  Using MLVs (nearly all of which are preserved) with enhanced battery capacity perhaps, no need for catenary or third rail?
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