Railwatch

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Railwatch 074 - December 1997

South West

By Gerard Duddridge

Okehampton The Okehampton line closed on 21 September at the end of the first summer season of special Sunday services and then reopened again for one final Sunday of operation on 5 October. It is reported that during the main 18 Sundays of operation 15,000 journeys were made on the line. The Western Morning News described the train service as a runaway success and one pub owner is quoted as saying that the trains have brought in a lot of trade. The desirability of reopening the entire line beyond Okehampton to Plymouth never seems to diminish. The year 1997 has seen little or no disruption from the sea, but nevertheless the following service disruptions have taken place:

  • disruption from a broken rail at Hemerdon on 8 February with consequent cancellations and delays. For example the 07:00 from Plymouth arrived 2hr 20min late at Paddington
  • a train was derailed at Newton Abbot on 6 March and closed the main line until 10 March
  • the main line was closed for replacement of the River Exe Bridge at Exeter from the evening of 10 October until the following Monday morning. This prevented operation of the sleeper services
  • the main line was similarly closed the next weekend for the second stage of the bridge replacement works,
  • replacement of trains by buses between Exeter and Plymouth is scheduled from 5 October to 9 November on Sundays.

Information Services Times of bus links from Bodmin Parkway to Padstow, Totnes to Kingsbridge, Exeter to Bude and Honiton to Sidmouth are now available on the computerised Railtrack timetable on the Internet, and also on the RailPlanner personal computer version of the program. This step was urged by us just two years ago at a meeting held in Truro and reported in Railwatch No. 66. Other towns such as Helston, Fowey and Launceston are not yet on the internet, but through rail/bus fares are available. None of the bus links appear in the Great Britain Passenger Railway Timetable. Once again the branch has produced a local timetable for the St. Ives and Newquay branches to show not just the branch line service, but all the places beyond that can easily be reached by connection. These were available before the local Wales and West's rail timetable leaflets, which were still not available three weeks after the start of winter services.

Yet more houses! If the new A30 road crossing and houses at Tipton St John on the trackbed of the Sidmouth line were not enough, an Exeter company has applied to build yet more houses. This time it is at Ottery St Mary and the proposal would take the development to the edge or centre line of the former railway. More significantly it would block a possible deviation of a reinstated railway around the edge of the industrial estate at the old station site. The branch has once again written to East Devon District Council.

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