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Author Topic: Heathfield Branch Line - freight use and campaign to restore passenger services  (Read 11124 times)
Andy
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« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2017, 12:03:33 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. 


To be honest, neither have I.

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 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?

I can't see much (any?) enthusiasm for a heritage EMU set-up in South Devon. There's no local tradition/nostalgia to draw on and there's stiff competition in the form of the nearby South Devon and Paignton & Dartmouth lines. 
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johnneyw
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« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2017, 09:46:10 AM »

I'm not totally pessimistic about it's prospects. To start with, it runs parallel to the Stover canal for a good deal of it's route which is itself being restored. This, together with the lengths of stone tramway being unearthed there gives a fairly unique heritage appeal.

Additionally, I walked the stretch from the northern edge of Newton Abbot to Ventiford along the canal just before the reopening group appeared in the local press and it is quiet pleasantly scenic.

The other point to make is that the group interested in the reopening are not just looking at a heritage line but are looking at local transport options too. In fact, they appear to be pretty open minded about it thus far with the emphasis at this early stage of seeing if they can secure the line.
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Andy
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« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2017, 12:46:32 PM »

While the paralysis regarding the sea-wall issue persists (i.e. for as far into the future as I can see), I think the Heathfield line will be protected to a certain extent, even if it is mothballed. 
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johnneyw
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« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2017, 09:52:54 PM »

While the paralysis regarding the sea-wall issue persists (i.e. for as far into the future as I can see), I think the Heathfield line will be protected to a certain extent, even if it is mothballed. 

The Heathfield line formation rather peters out around Bovey Tracey, Mortonhempsted at best. The proposed fall back route goes from Exeter through Okehampton so the Heathfield line has little value to NR, apart from it's land value of course.
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Umberleigh
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« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2017, 07:44:11 PM »

The Stover Trail cycle path follows the route of the line for much of way, then diverts until Bovey Tracey. If the line does eventually get lifted, then perhaps a 15" railway with seating and cycle wagons along the old standard gauge formation, then extended into Bovey Tracey? Would be significantly cheaper than a new standard gauge formation. 

That way families could cycle one way then chuck the bikes on the train for the journey back (especially useful for families with small kids).

Whatever operates will need to be a simple set-up as I can't see there being many volunteers, what with the two nearby steam railways. Diesel or electric (as in electric car engine) locos and wagons, very seasonal timetable.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2017, 08:12:38 PM by Umberleigh » Logged
johnneyw
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« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2017, 11:14:20 PM »

There is a second public meeting being held by the group looking to reopen the line on 2nd Sept at 7pm in the Newton Abbot Royal British Legion according to their Facebook page.
It could be interesting to see what they are looking to use the line for.
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grahame
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« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2017, 08:08:10 PM »

Update article from Devon Live

Quote
A feasibility study into whether a plan to reopen a disused railway line would be possible is to be carried out. Passenger trains have not travelled on the Teign Valley line between Newton Abbot to Heathfield since 1959, and in recent years, use of the line has dwindled to just the occasional freight train.

But Michael Cooke, chairman of the Newton Abbot to Heathfield Railway Revival Group, wants to see the line reopened as a way of easing transport pressures in the region, to give the tourist industry a boost, and as a commercial line.

Mr Cooke says that a feasibility study into the line is set to be carried out and that they have had a lot of backing from the public since they announced their plans.

He said: “We have also heard back from Network Rail that the line is classed as being mothballed, which is good news for us, because it means that they have no plans to use the line. We have a lot of support from the public and we will be carrying out a feasibility study into the future of the line.

“We want to work with train operators to be able to run a train service from Heathfield to Newton Abbot and we are forming a committee to have a look at our next move.”

He said that anyone interested should come along to a meeting on Saturday, September 2, at 7pm, at the Royal British Legion in Newton Abbot.

A Network Rail spokesman said that although it would be possible to reopen the line for passenger services, significant investment would be needed.

He added: “There has been interest in the line by local stakeholders, including the operator of the People Parry Mover.

“The line has previously been a freight only line and it would require significant investment to bring it up to standard for passenger services, although it is possible.

“Additionally, there is a level crossing at Teigngrace which would need upgrading or closed to allow any services to operate.”

[article continues

Anyone got any reports from that 2nd September meeting?
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johnneyw
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« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2017, 09:31:44 AM »

My "man on the ground" couldn't make the meeting but there's a bit of commentary on their Facepack page although not a massive amount more than mentioned above. One of the attendees seems to know Pete Waterman quite well so there may be some publicity mileage in that.
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johnneyw
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« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2017, 02:41:01 PM »

For those who would like to see something being down with the line there is an online petition currently on:

https://www.change.org/p/local-councils-rail-operaters-and-network-rail-to-work-together-to-re-open-the-newton-abbot-to-heathfield-railway-line
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johnneyw
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« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2017, 06:34:56 PM »

Looks like Network Rail may have something to say about the Heathfield Line shortly:

http://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/network-rail-consider-plans-reopen-612775

With plans announced to build more homes in Bovey Tracey it looks like the case is growing.
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bradshaw
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« Reply #25 on: November 07, 2017, 06:37:44 PM »

Possible reopening of the Heathfield branch has just featured on BBC Spotlight this evening about 4 minutes in, after piece on breakup of GWR.
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #26 on: November 07, 2017, 11:36:09 PM »

What??  They've been reading our forum again!  Shocked Grin

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johnneyw
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« Reply #27 on: Yesterday at 09:51:23 PM »

Possible reopening of the Heathfield branch has just featured on BBC Spotlight this evening about 4 minutes in, after piece on breakup of GWR.


Facebook recording of it here, sound quality not great though:
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10214030915667759&id=1257325527&ref=m_notif&notif_t=group_activity
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