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Okehampton Railway in Administration


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On 28/11/2020 at 20:12, Gwiwer said:

1. SWR already runs Salisbury - Bristol services which are for the most part lightly loaded and merely duplicate the GWR services which are on the non-Covid timetable now mostly 5-car and so less crowded than they once were.  

On the occasions I've used the SWR services to Bristol and Bath, they've been fairly well loaded, especially East of Bath (and lots of people coming and going at stops like Warminster).

 

I look forward to these extensions to the SWR network when I'm back to daily commuting.  With my Annual Gold Card I'll be able to use my remaining and still valid all-SWR Weekend Day Rovers on some new routes.  

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12 hours ago, Northmoor said:

On the occasions I've used the SWR services to Bristol and Bath, they've been fairly well loaded, especially East of Bath (and lots of people coming and going at stops like Warminster).

It's only anecdotal, but my experience on those trains was that they were standing room only, at least from Salisbury to Bath.

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The whole Solent to South Wales corridor is one that, as a free-pass holder, I try to avoid, especially Fridays and Mondays, when students are typically numerous and have each paid through the nose for their travel. Sherry and I did travel Westbury to Southampton a couple of years ago - it was unavoidable - but the train was very full. We returned a week later, and time no longer being of the essence, went via Reading. 

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2 hours ago, Oldddudders said:

The whole Solent to South Wales corridor is one that, as a free-pass holder, I try to avoid, especially Fridays and Mondays, when students are typically numerous and have each paid through the nose for their travel. Sherry and I did travel Westbury to Southampton a couple of years ago - it was unavoidable - but the train was very full. We returned a week later, and time no longer being of the essence, went via Reading. 

It is a positive sign of the times, the loading on these routes.  Just like the services from Crewe - Cardiff; where once (early 1980s) they were about six per day and half-full, they are now hourly and nearly full.  

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  • 3 months later...

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<Devon County Council has submitted two further bids as part of the Restoring Your Railway Fund to the section between Bere Alston and Tavistock, and the section between Tavistock and Okehampton.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

Even better news!:)

      Brian.

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Posted (edited)

Yes I thought that, but realistically unlikely in the near term for Bere-Tavi and very unsure for Oke-Tavi. At least the Oke-Exeter services are getting closer

Edited by Ramblin Rich
timings
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Allegorically the two biggest issues with Tavistock re-opening are the siting of a station there in a location suitably convenient for the town centre and the apparent negative level of interest shown by the now-unitary Plymouth City.  The latter once bowed to Devon CC but now calls its own shots and isn't too interested, it would seem, in anything beyond its own boundaries.  

 

I still have a feeling that a way will be found to restore trains to Tavistock but not in the shorter term.  It would require at least a completely new arrangement at Bere Alston and possibly a couple of dynamic (i.e. "long") loops farther south.  The issue then is how to run the Gunnislake service effectively.  Perhaps the answer is that Gunnislake remains roughly every 2 - 3 hours serving the smaller stations and Tavistock runs hourly but fast between Plymouth and Bere Alston crossing the Gunny around Tamerton Foliot on a new loop.  That way major alterations at Bere Alston are not needed i.e. it could remain a single-platform basic junction.  

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1 hour ago, Ramblin Rich said:

but realistically unlikely in the near term for Bere-Tavi and very unsure for Oke-Tavi. At least the Oke-Exeter services are getting closer

 

These come as a pair!  One without the other certainly wouldn't work.  It remains to be seen whether Exeter, SD or C will work out; NR must think so with all the track components on site already.  Also it may be  worthwhile to restore the station siding back to a loop while they're at it - may encourage more tours.  Dartmoor is quite an attraction!

      Brian.

Edited by brianusa
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On 19/03/2021 at 14:31, Ramblin Rich said:

'Milestone moment'

Now investigations are complete, and the green light received, Network Rail engineers will undertake a range of works – including drainage, fencing and earthworks. They will lay more than 11 miles of track, replace 24,000 concrete sleepers and install nearly 29,000 tonnes of ballast.

They will also upgrade several level crossings as well as installing new global system for mobile communications (GSM-R) masts – allowing train drivers to securely communicate with signallers.

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On 19/03/2021 at 16:44, brianusa said:

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<Devon County Council has submitted two further bids as part of the Restoring Your Railway Fund to the section between Bere Alston and Tavistock, and the section between Tavistock and Okehampton.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

If the restoration of service to Okehampton - which already has track in place and thus needs minimal work compared to laying entirely new track - costs £40m does anyone really think either of those other 2 bids will happen given how much they will thus apparently cost?

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On 19/03/2021 at 18:23, brianusa said:

These come as a pair!  One without the other certainly wouldn't work. 

 

Why do they come as a pair?

 

Expanding to Tavistock is about dealing with road congestion issues between the Tavistock area and Plymouth, and thus could potentially be viable on it's own while the Tavistock - Okehampton remains unviable.

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7 hours ago, mdvle said:

 

Why do they come as a pair?

 

Expanding to Tavistock is about dealing with road congestion issues between the Tavistock area and Plymouth, and thus could potentially be viable on it's own while the Tavistock - Okehampton remains unviable.

Yeoford to Bere Alston could be regarded as a very large and expensive elephant. But one bite is about to be taken. If Bere Alston to Tavistock were to succeed also, and Poseidon carries on doing his worst at Dawlish, the cost of the final section might not be too far from the money needed to divert the GWR in that area, were that to become necessary. As we know, that doesn't fit well with serving Newton Abbot and Torbay, but it nevertheless moves the LSWR route up the options table a bit. 

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8 hours ago, Oldddudders said:

Yeoford to Bere Alston could be regarded as a very large and expensive elephant. But one bite is about to be taken. If Bere Alston to Tavistock were to succeed also, and Poseidon carries on doing his worst at Dawlish, the cost of the final section might not be too far from the money needed to divert the GWR in that area, were that to become necessary. As we know, that doesn't fit well with serving Newton Abbot and Torbay, but it nevertheless moves the LSWR route up the options table a bit. 

 

But that is different than saying they come as a pair and that Tavistock doesn't work without the complete restoration of the entire route.

 

But with the last estimate I can quickly find - from a year and a half ago - pricing Tavistock at £93m I think that will be a difficult sell to the government.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/reopening-bere-alston-tavistock-railway-3311504

 

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8 hours ago, Oldddudders said:

Yeoford to Bere Alston could be regarded as a very large and expensive elephant. But one bite is about to be taken. If Bere Alston to Tavistock were to succeed also, and Poseidon carries on doing his worst at Dawlish, the cost of the final section might not be too far from the money needed to divert the GWR in that area, were that to become necessary. As we know, that doesn't fit well with serving Newton Abbot and Torbay, but it nevertheless moves the LSWR route up the options table a bit. 

That's a good reason for making sure the corridor remains available but I don't see how it influences a Plymouth - Tavistock link (a route that was very busy and congested by road once you hit the outskirts of Plymouth when I was going to school that way in the early 90s, heaven knows what it's like now).

Edited by Reorte
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I've always been a little surprised that both Bideford and Ilfracombe were allowed to drop off the network, despite track remaining beyond Bideford into the 80s

 

Those who know the area can perhaps comment as to whether extensions beyond Barnstaple would have any merit. There seems to be more population to be served than across Dartmoor

 

The success of Dales Rail and the Settle & Carlisle in general shows that the traffic potential of access to a National Park may be higher than we assume, but given the huge cost of a replacement for Meldon viaduct I'm a little surprised the LSWR Plymouth route gets all the attention, and extension beyond Barnstaple none at all

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5 minutes ago, Ravenser said:

Those who know the area can perhaps comment as to whether extensions beyond Barnstaple would have any merit.

There is some credibility in local moves to restore trains to Bideford though probably not as far as Torrington which is much smaller.  That link should arguably never have been closed.  The Ilfracombe line is gone unless very fancy amounts of money can be found for an all-new river bridge in Barnstaple.  Onward to Braunton it would effectively close the popular Tarka Trail if rail were restored as indeed would be the case between Barnstaple and Bideford unless a shared-use solution could be found.  

 

Looking at pre-Covid traffic levels there is probably more potential in going to Bideford which in turn would act as railhead for Appledore, Westward Ho! and Torrington.  There is significant local traffic into Barnstaple from the Braunton direction but onwards to Ilfracombe is much quieter and highly seasonal.  The existing bus links are well-planned for integrated journeys even if it is well-established knowledge that rail users dislike buses and dislike changing as well.  

 

 

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One major cost on the Ilfracombe line when it was running, was the large number of manned level crossings - surprisingly it was originally opened as a light railway, with the crossings being cheaper than bridges, then upgraded to 2 running lines. I would think the need for those level crossings to be opened or re-routed would be a major factor against reopening - level crossings seem to be frowned on at the moment.

There's also arguments over rail versus cycle track uses. The width of the formation might allow shared rail and bike use as is the case from Okehampton to Meldon, but would require loops which then reduce the flexibility of the rail route.

Always now is the question about post Covid traffic levels.

Maybe light rail/tramway might be an option.

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17 minutes ago, Ramblin Rich said:

One major cost on the Ilfracombe line when it was running, was the large number of manned level crossings - surprisingly it was originally opened as a light railway, with the crossings being cheaper than bridges, then upgraded to 2 running lines. I would think the need for those level crossings to be opened or re-routed would be a major factor against reopening - level crossings seem to be frowned on at the moment.

 

There is a good bus service from Barnstaple to both Ilfracombe and Bideford. 

I would agree that Barnstaple - Bideford might just have some merit at some point if finance was available,

but I would agree with Rich that the Ilfracombe route is just not on.

 

We have stayed in Barnstaple a number of times in recent years, and then driven through Braunton to get to various beaches, the traffic was pretty busy even well outside the main holiday season. Just imagine re-instating the rail link with a level crossing at each end of Braunton station and the chaos that would cause in the summer!

 

cheers

 

cheers

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36 minutes ago, Rivercider said:

Just imagine re-instating the rail link with a level crossing at each end of Braunton station and the chaos that would cause in the summer!

 

Just like the good old days!:lol:

      Brian.

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3 hours ago, mdvle said:

 

But that is different than saying they come as a pair and that Tavistock doesn't work without the complete restoration of the entire route.

 

 

3 hours ago, Reorte said:
12 hours ago, Oldddudders said:

If Bere Alston to Tavistock were to succeed also, and Poseidon carries on doing his worst at Dawlish, the cost of the final section might not be too far from the money needed to divert the GWR in that area, were that to become necessary. As we know, that doesn't fit well with serving Newton Abbot and Torbay, but it nevertheless moves the LSWR route up the options table a bit. 

That's a good reason for making sure the corridor remains available

 

Semantics! If any of this ever comes to fruition,' the pair', Bere - Tavi, Oke - Tavi, obviously are the missing links and would have to be included somehow in the process in the long run.  The government seems keen on spending money at restoring missing links right now..... :)

      Brian. 

 

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The biggest problem we have is lack of foresight. If you think about it the logical thing to do is rebuild the line through out ok using dynamic loops not double tracked. However until Dawlish gets breached again then nothing will happen. Now if the project got sold as giving employment and bolstering the economy during a recession and being of strategic use........

But again it needs logic.

 

Keith

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24 minutes ago, KeithHC said:

The biggest problem we have is lack of foresight. If you think about it the logical thing to do is rebuild the line through out ok using dynamic loops not double tracked. However until Dawlish gets breached again then nothing will happen. Now if the project got sold as giving employment and bolstering the economy during a recession and being of strategic use........

But again it needs logic.

 

Keith

I don't think there is anything logical about spending a nine-figure sum to rebuild a stretch of railway that is only really needed for perhaps a week every five years and quite possibly less than that.  It's not that I think Oke-Tav reopening isn't necessary at all, but there are many, many higher priorities for rail transport expenditure in the UK.

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1 hour ago, Northmoor said:

I don't think there is anything logical about spending a nine-figure sum to rebuild a stretch of railway that is only really needed for perhaps a week every five years and quite possibly less than that.  It's not that I think Oke-Tav reopening isn't necessary at all, but there are many, many higher priorities for rail transport expenditure in the UK.

Agreed, building an expensive stretch of railway "just in case" hardly sounds like a good use of resources. It has to have a good case for use all the time. If the complete Okephampton route still existed (even in a reduced form from its heyday) it would maybe be a good reason to keep it open if it was threatened with closure but we're past that unfortuantely.

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It does seem strange that Ilfracombe lost its railway, but was the station not poorly located for the town ? Also, like some other much-lamented routes (eg S&D), how busy was it outside the summer holiday season ? And nowadays of course there would not be freight traffic to help justify the line. 

 

Our family holiday in 2007 was in Ilfracombe, and we used the car; However, even if the railway was still there, despite having staff rail travel, we would still have driven, because the car gave us the freedom to explore the area and visit places such as Tintagel and the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, which would have been difficult if not impossible by public transport. 

 

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