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Old September 20th, 2017, 07:36 PM   #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyril sneer View Post
Electrification of the line to Devon & Cornwall was never going to happen even with the best of intentions. They can't even find the money to electrify the route to South Wales. I very much doubt if they will even get round to this spot electrification programme. We will get these Hitachi trains and be made to feel grateful for even that.
I am sure these Hitachi trains will be very nice, but that still does'nt solve the poor railway problem. It will be interesting to (as I famously say!) - wait and see...over a period and through the winter storms/ leaves on the line. Apart for Cowley Bridge, Exeter does'nt have these problems as the line eastwards is fairly good with 100 MPH running, well within the capability of HST's and the Hitachi's.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 09:51 PM   #62
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Not quite true. The Great Western mainline through the Somerset levels presents regular problems during flooding. The Waterloo line also suffers from flooding too in places, but yes I gather what you are saying. That the may achellise heel of the Great Western mainline lie to the West of Exeter. As Dronkula points out, there is no easy or cheap option for a) resolving the Dawlish seawall issue or b) increasing tracks speeds. For all the vast money that theoretically would need to be spent on Dawlish I think its highly unlikely any additional money will be found for improving track speeds along the route. The Government don't even seem to be in any apparent urgency to fund a long term solution to the Dawlish seawall issue. The most realistic cost/benefit method to decrease journey times would be increasing speed between Exeter and Bristol.
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Old September 20th, 2017, 11:45 PM   #63
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There's 2 slightly different, although very much linked, issues at Dawlish though.

Firstly - there's the big 'tracks been washed away' potential. Yes - climate change is now leading to rougher weather so the track is going to get a much heavier battering but before 2014, looking through Wikipedia, the previous time it was heavily damaged in a storm was in 1929. So, this isn't actually (even now) that regular an issue.

The other, more regular problem is that if there are heavy seas breaking over the wall, the Cross Country voyagers have to be cancelled as they can't cope with that. The old GWR trains seem to cope better and are cancelled less.,

Hitachi are claiming that they've strenously tested and engineered their new trains specifically to cope with Dawlish storm conditions so it'll be interested to see how they do actually manage in 'live' conditions.

They're predicting that this autumn is going to be particular stormy - so lets see by Jan if the track has survived. If it is damaged this year, I would think the case for an inland mainline route would be much more appealing.
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Old September 21st, 2017, 01:46 AM   #64
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You may be interested in this news, if you hav'nt already seen it.

https://okerail.2day.uk/
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Old September 21st, 2017, 10:23 AM   #65
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It sounds positive for the Okehampton line potentially reopening. They will need to find a way of creating a timetable that fits in with the present signal patterns at St Davids and the Tarka Line. Ideally they would just extend the South West Trains service from London Waterloo to Okehampton but I'm not certain it would be possible to run an hourly service to Okehampton due to the Okehampton line being single line. It may have to be two hourly.
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Old September 21st, 2017, 11:52 AM   #66
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If they were thinking of extending the SWR (not SWT anymore!) service to Okehampton, shouldn't they have included that in the new franchise agreement though?

All the talk seems to be of a new GWR service instead. Which probably means they'll reduce the Barnstaple service to a 2 hourly timetable and have it alternating with Okehampton. So, have the through line to Exmouth with three alternative destinations - Barnstaple, Okehampton and Paignton.

That'll be the 'quick and dirty' way of getting the service running with minimal impact on the present services (for everywhere else other than Barnstaple) and that damn level crossing outside the station!
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Old September 21st, 2017, 01:58 PM   #67
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Good point, I didn't think of the SWR franchise not including any potential Okehampton service. Thats a shame really. I can't see the political powers of North Devon being happy with their rail service being cut by 50%. I think there is enough capacity on the Tarka Line for both an Okehampton and Barnstaple service. The problems are a) single line from Yeoford Junction-Okehampton, and b) lack of capacity on the Exeter-Exmouth line. They could perhaps fit in a Okehampton service on the Tarka line that runs ahead of the Barnstaple service, signals permitting obviously, and terminate it at Exeter Central and reversing at Mount Pleasant sidings.
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Old September 21st, 2017, 02:10 PM   #68
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Another thing is, there are continuing aspirations for an half hourly stopping service from Torbay to Exeter. They were suggesting perhaps a Torbay-Axminster service. I'm not sure if there is sufficient capacity between Exeter-Axminster with the single line. Exeter finds itself in an enviable position of perhaps too many commuter services demanding to come into Exeter. Long term solution would be to re-duel the Exeter-Exmouth line and/or Exeter-Honiton to provide additional capacity.
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Old September 21st, 2017, 02:34 PM   #69
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Re: Flooding on the Somerset levels and on the Salisbury line. I am not aware of the flooding on the latter, but I expect it does. I do not have a problem with this...that is just one of those things and an inconvenience at times, not just for the railway, but for the whole area. Generally the line is good, straight and fast. I know it is much easier to build a railway on level ground. But the south Devon railway is 'not fit for purpose'. In 1850 the old steam engines would only do about 60 MPH at most, with more local stations, such as at South Brent and Cornwood, so it served its purpose then, but not really now.
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Old September 21st, 2017, 05:26 PM   #70
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I totally agree. The line West of Exeter is in all effects and purposes a branch line. Its a shame WWII broke out because they were literally pegging out the route of a Dawlish avoiding line including a tunnel through Haldon Hill. The rest is history I guess. It all comes down to geography and politics at the end of the day. There simply isn't the business case to spend such vast sums for such an engineering project as a Haldon Hill tunnel + straightening of the line between Newton Abbot and Plymouth or even the political clout in Plymouth to demand this issue is considered at properly. It will always be a patch repair job and token improvements I suspect.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 12:47 AM   #71
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It's NOT a branch line it is a MAIN line.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 09:11 AM   #72
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Yeah I know its a main line but its characteristics are that of a branch line; i.e. the slow speeds, lots of stations.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 07:41 PM   #73
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Funnily enough - on the local news apparently Jeremy Corbyn was in the area and gave an interview to the local BBC Politics guy where he pledged both to upgrade the Plymouth to Exeter line AND build the inland diversion away from Dawlish.

He'd recently travelled between Plymouth and Exeter on the train and got to sit in the drivers cab on the trip and so the driver explained to him exactly what all the problems were.

The full interview will be shown on Sunday during the Sunday Politics.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 09:04 PM   #74
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See below.

Last edited by RickLW; September 22nd, 2017 at 10:02 PM.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 09:09 PM   #75
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Well done Dronkula thats the sort of news to benefit the whole area. I believe in positivity. If improvements do'nt come about because of cost etc, I understand that - it's just the willingness. If a plan is drawn up and rolled out every time there is an issue, things (could) get done, even if it is just a part. But when there are just 'ideas' floating about, then nothing will get done....Exeter does not have much of a problem (except rare flooding) because it has good 100 MPH connections to London, Bristol & the north. - And except for the level crossing, which could be part of the plan...maybe with a bridge like you showed before?

Last edited by RickLW; September 22nd, 2017 at 10:10 PM.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 10:06 PM   #76
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I really wish I could share the same optimism but to the cynic in me this pledge just comes across as your typical opposition leader soundbite funded by the magical money tree. It wasn't long ago Cameron was down at Dawlish promising something similar then conviently sweeped the talk under the carpet when the storm had passed and the story was out of the national spotlight. It will be interesting to see what Corbyn has to say on the matter over the weekend however particularly on his idea of the route for the Dawlish avoiding line.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 10:37 PM   #77
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As they say...It's easy to make promises when you are not in power.
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Old September 25th, 2017, 10:55 AM   #78
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I missed The Sunday Politics show. Did anyone grasp what Corbyn had to say about Dawlish?
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Old September 25th, 2017, 02:02 PM   #79
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I missed it myself - but at the Labour conference John McDonell has just said:

"We’ll build Crossrail for the north, connecting our great northern cities from west coast to east, and extend HS2 into Scotland. We’ll deliver the funding for Midlands Connect, overhauling transport across the Midlands. And we’ll overturn decades of neglect and lack of investment in the South-West. We’ll electrify railway lines from Cornwall right through to London."
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Old September 25th, 2017, 04:12 PM   #80
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I still have a problem with the railways west of Exeter. The sea wall for one. can you imagine electrifying that? Even worse are the bends. They keep train speeds down to about 50 in places. This week a driver (unusually right on the limit and quicker in and out of stations) had people flying across the corridor at Dainton. I cannot see any benefit in electrification unless the railway was greatly improved. I appreciate the cost and the revenue benefit...in that case a make do and mend attitude may be the best! The Cornish line is 60MPH at best...with lots of stops.
Unless of course, you want to make promises just for vote - winners.
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