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Current relaying on the Okehampton Branch


24grange
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Hi,

 

I've seen a picture in one of the magazines of a rail replacement train at Crediton  heading towards the Okehampton Branch. I've also seen a youtube clip of replacement rails alongside long sections of the branch ready to be replaced.

 

Now I appreciate that the branch is due to open " in 2021" and there have been rumours of stone trains running from the quarry in connection with HS2.- I thought all the equipment at the quarry had been removed and it was abandoned ?

 

Now from Coleford Junction to the quarry used to be private property ( aggregates?) -  so what are network rail doing relaying track on a branch they do not own? It would be like Network rail deciding to relay the great central?

 

Very nice of them and all - but  it isn't network rail property ? Or has it now been transferred from Aggregates to Network rail ready for the grand reopening in 2021?

 

Confused as usual!!

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As I understand it the equipment has been removed from the quarry, but I think there might be a stockpile of processed stone that has not been transported away.

I believe planning permission for more extraction already exists.

 

cheers

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2 hours ago, Rivercider said:

As I understand it the equipment has been removed from the quarry, but I think there might be a stockpile of processed stone that has not been transported away.

I believe planning permission for more extraction already exists.

 

cheers

Planning permission for more extraction definitely exists as the quarry was offered for sale with that planning permission.

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I guess that's the end of the heritage set up . Network Rail won't let any stock that's not been "safety cased" to death near their railway?- New yellow " Keep back" line on Okehampton's platform? I doubt any of the spec on Okehampton platforms ( or the station itself) is up to Network rail safety spec ? - Do they do "grandfathers" rights on anything - like the footbridge for example?

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14 minutes ago, 24grange said:

I guess that's the end of the heritage set up . Network Rail won't let any stock that's not been "safety cased" to death near their railway?- New yellow " Keep back" line on Okehampton's platform? I doubt any of the spec on Okehampton platforms ( or the station itself) is up to Network rail safety spec ? - Do they do "grandfathers" rights on anything - like the footbridge for example?

 

Unless they can continue to run Okehampton-Meldon. Or is the plan for the Network Rail line to reopen through to Plymouth? The DRSA website doesn’t seem to say much about what it directly means for them.

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But if Aggregates have sold the whole line ( presumably for HS2 traffic) to access the quarry  at some point- that means its all "Network Rail" and that means no heritage stuff ( although they have the  extended siding on the former down platform maybe)? Its not clear - but I can't find an example of heritage stock running on Network Rail without a ton of safety stuff? which the heritage won't be able/afford to do. The 08, I'm sure isn't main line certified for a start.

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1 minute ago, 24grange said:

But if Aggregates have sold the whole line ( presumably for HS2 traffic) to access the quarry  at some point- that means its all "Network Rail" and that means no heritage stuff ( although they have the  extended siding on the former down platform maybe)? Its not clear - but I can't find an example of heritage stock running on Network Rail without a ton of safety stuff? which the heritage won't be able/afford to do. The 08, I'm sure isn't main line certified for a start.

 

Originally, I was thinking of a situation with the heritage operation locked into the Meldon to Okehampton section and only operating on that bit, with freight services let in from the main line when required. Obviously this might be more difficult if NR own the track to Meldon as well. Doesn’t seem very likely to work though.

 

I think they had a reasonable amount of mainline-registered stock to run the Exeter trains - some of this belongs to BARS though so may not be available to them any more.

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There are all sorts of compromises possible to retain a heritage style operation at Okehampton station.  The station is very nicely restored to early BR condition and I would hope this can be retained in some form, with the shop and cafe.  The goods shed is in use as a Youth Hostel, and the goods yard is presumably out of the loop for any future running of trains.  NR will only need one road through Okehampton station to run the HS2 ballast traffic to and from Meldon, and my view is that heritage railway running at Okehampton is a dead duck anyway sadly.  I do not know what stock is at the site at present or if it is capable of running (in the actual as well as the legitimate sense), but some of it could remain at the site on track not used by NR. 

 

Obviously, a regular passenger service to Exeter from Okehampton is a desirable outcome as is the Meldon traffic.  Okehampton station has plenty of parking and one could, I suppose, open a new platform to the east of the existing station on the loco depot site, and sever the connection into the heritage platform altogether.  We'll have to wait and see...

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Just be great to see trains using the metals from Yeoford to Crediton again.  Everytime I've travelled from Umberleigh to Exeter recently, the rust on the railheads of the Okehampton route has made me a bit sad.  

 

Shame we wont see D800s, Hymeks, 31s, 33s, 37s, 47s, 46s, 45s or 50s.....even first gen DMUs, but you can't have everything.  Just be good to see it in use.

 

Matt W

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1 hour ago, The Johnster said:

There are all sorts of compromises possible to retain a heritage style operation at Okehampton station.  The station is very nicely restored to early BR condition and I would hope this can be retained in some form, with the shop and cafe.

 

Based on what I remember from my visit a few years ago (going on the train once but cycling over to the station café on multiple occasions as well) the restoration work on Okehampton station is the best bit (and the café is nice too of course). The green Thumper (in my opinion) completes the early BR effect nicely, although I’m not sure DMU operation would be appropriate if running only on a demonstration line at Okehampton or even over the two miles to Meldon - once you reduce the line length and take away the public transport focus, I suspect lots of people would want to see loco and possibly steam haulage.

 

I can’t see a particular reason why the station couldn’t stay (mostly) in its current condition, and heritage restorations of stations (paint schemes, original fittings etc.) seem to be becoming more popular around the UK. If I remember correctly, the platforms at Okehampton already have tactile paving, and modern DMUs have run through to Okehampton in the past, which suggests that the platforms themselves would be suitable for Network Rail operation.

 

Out of interest, are Sampford Courtenay and other intermediate stations planned to be reopened?

Edited by 009 micro modeller
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38 minutes ago, 009 micro modeller said:

 

 

 

Out of interest, are Sampford Courtenay and other intermediate stations planned to be reopened?

 

Listening to conversations when I have travelled on the route on the Sunday services Sampford Courtenay is in the plan, but not Bow or North Tawton. Okehampton (East) would be a new station.

 

cheers

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2 minutes ago, 009 micro modeller said:

 

Is this as a park and ride type thing, in addition to the current Okehampton station?

Yes, that is my understanding. I thought that the car park area has already been prepared,

 

cheers

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4 hours ago, 24grange said:

I guess that's the end of the heritage set up . Network Rail won't let any stock that's not been "safety cased" to death near their railway?

Not necessarily the case. The Wensleydale branch is owned by Network Rail and leased to the Wensleydale Railway plc. 

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1 hour ago, Rivercider said:

 

Listening to conversations when I have travelled on the route on the Sunday services Sampford Courtenay is in the plan, but not Bow or North Tawton. Okehampton (East) would be a new station.

 

cheers

There's probably limited passenger potential from the intermediate stations, they're all some distance from the actual villages they serve; all the traffic studies were/are based on Okehampton being the main source. In addition, the trackbed at North Tawton was raised to improve the headroom for the road under bridge, so the tracks are now somewhat higher than the old platforms.

I'm sure I read a while ago that any work at Meldon would use portable crushing/grading machinery, rather than reinstate fixed equipment.

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I have been following this thread with interest and I'm currently adding pictures of the line through Okehampton to my Flickr pictures just in case anyone's interested. See link at the bottom of my posts or ‘click’ on the picture.

Lines through Okehampton.

 

Edited by bubbles2
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Lovely news indeed, Rich. Going into Exeter by train from Oke is a pleasant experience, with Central/Queen St being close to shops and cafés etc. - assuming any will be left! It will be interesting to see how the timetablers dovetail it with Paignton & Barnstaple services to Exmouth. 

 

The Tavistock proposal is hugely expensive, will not be up and running in my lifetime, if ever, but your post gives it more of a chance. 

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Just watched it on BBC Spotlight, if all goes to plan I am hoping to take my mountain bike from the local station ( same line ) and get onto Dartmoor after a few years ! YEY !!!

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21 hours ago, Oldddudders said:

Lovely news indeed, Rich. Going into Exeter by train from Oke is a pleasant experience, with Central/Queen St being close to shops and cafés etc. - assuming any will be left! It will be interesting to see how the timetablers dovetail it with Paignton & Barnstaple services to Exmouth. 

 

The Tavistock proposal is hugely expensive, will not be up and running in my lifetime, if ever, but your post gives it more of a chance. 

The money mentioned (£40Million) equates to more than £2million per mile to bring an existing railway up to the right standard for passenger train operation although the total no doubt includes the cost of the new station at Okehampton East.  The figure doesn't surprise me in view of the amount of work needed on the stretch being taken over by NR.

 

But that sort of cost per mile will shrink into insignificance compared with the cost per mile of reopening c.6 miles to Tavistock from Bere Alston at the western end of the route let alone the c.18 miles between Okehampton and Tavistock.   As I've remarked previously around 30 years ago I was looking at signalling plans and estimates for the work involved for reopening Bere Alston - Tavistock and even then the idea of that reopening  was far from new.  Thus far it has taken well over 30 years to get nowhere with the Tavistock reopening and no doubt simply preparing the necessary plans and estimates will now have to be done from scratch and the cost of that work will run well into the hundreds of thousands of £s with bridgeworks involved and the reacquistuion of land which has passed into agricultural use plus finding a suitable site for a station at the Tavistock end.

 

So like Ian I seriously wonder if I will see it in my lifetime and I really doubt that I will ever again be able to travel by train between Plymouth and Tavistock.

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