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Railwatch 080 - July 1999

South West

By Gerard Duddridge

Park and ride The new A30 dual carriageway road, reported in Railwatch 79 as blocking the Sidmouth line trackbed, also involves new motorway junction arrangements at Exeter. These give southbound motorists a short-cut into Exeter and lead drivers away from the Digby and Sowton rail and bus park and ride sites. A new bus park and ride opens at the end of May at Honiton Road in Exeter and funding for this scheme has pushed financial support for a new Cullompton station into the future.

North Devon Plans for the £31million Barnstaple Western bypass become ever more alarming. A map printed earlier this year in the North Devon Journal shows that access from the south side of Barnstaple will be relegated to a narrow pedestrian/bus underpass beneath the single carriageway road embankment. Access to the Tarka Trail will be extended by over a quarter mile by being diverted around three sides of the large roundabout to be built west of the station. It is this part of the road which will obliterate about 250 yards of the Bideford line trackbed. The North Devon Rail Users Group are fighting vigorously for the trackbed to be retained and are supported by RDS South West.

Rail cuts The summer timetable saw the reduction from 11 to nine trains each way on the North Devon line between Exeter and Barnstaple and the Newton St Cyres commuter service into Exeter is now timed to arrive after 09.00. Without support from Devon County Council the service would have dropped to the PSR level of seven trains each way. On the main line in Cornwall, Lostwithiel has lost its last up evening service. Commuters who cannot leave work in time for the last train (Penzance 16.30 and Truro 17.08) must travel via Bodmin Parkway. One train each way has been lost from the Falmouth and Looe branches and due to a combination of main line retimings and non-stop running through St Erth connections have deteriorated to and from St Ives. In particular commuter connections from Truro have been hit with there now being no suitable service between 16.06 and 18.09. Three trains have been lost from the summer Sunday St Ives line timetable to leave some gaps of up to two hours. This will hit the park and ride business and Penwith District Council maintain they have not been consulted about these changes. Only the Newquay line escapes cuts as it already runs at the PSR level for most of the year with four trains each way.

Okehampton summer services The Sunday summer service from Exeter to Okehampton restarted on 30 May and is advertised to run until 3 October 1999. The ticket price (the Sunday bus and rail rover) will again be £5. The much talked about Saturday service has regrettably still not appeared.

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