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‘Dawlish will not fail’

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Network Rail Dawlish Denial, C4 NewsNetwork Rail is only considering the Okehampton — Tavistock — Plymouth route as a candidate to improve rail resilience for Cornwall and west Devon, according to the BBC. In other words, re-routeing the Great Western route off the seafront in South Devon is off the agenda.

But people might need to think hard, before deciding to take Network Rail’s advice on matters like this. Or putting them in charge of bunting at a village fete. A November 2010 Devon county council committee report noted

Network Rail are confident that the railway sea defences around Dawlish will not fail in the foreseeable future.

Network Rail later denied that it had a favoured solution. It said ‘no firm decision had been made’ and a further study would be conducted ‘to look at the pros and cons of alternative routes’.


Written by beleben

February 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Planning, Railways

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. Here is my unpublished letter to the Times:

    The Headline “Storm force closure of the West’s lifeline” 6th Feb, is somewhat overdone. Here is the reality:

    Penzance to Paddington provides one train an hour (11 all day). The journey takes five and a half hours. The open retun costs over £120. The typical passenger load on South Western Trains is a 140 people. (1)

    Torquay to Exeter (through Dawlish) offers three trains per hour. However, a recent picture on TV showed a train with only two carriages on the affected stretch.

    Instead of this railway being a “lifeline” it is instead an extraordinarily expensive, fully working, modernised, transport museum.

    Further, it is amusing to note that the money now earmarked for the flood defences in the area, amounts to perhaps £130 million or nearly 400 times less than the £50bn required for HS2, a scheme which, far from being transformational, will increase the nation’s passenger journeys by a vanishingly small 0.05%. (2)

    The flood defences may very well be very much more transformational than that.
    (1)ORR Data shows South Western Trans averaging 140 passengers

    (2) HS2 is now said to generates some 76,000 passengers per day, (FoI request), corresponding to roughly 22.8 million per year. It is only those which can be “transformational”, since all the rest exist already. In contrast there are currently 1.5 billion passenger journeys per year by surface rail, and 43.5bn passenger journeys by all modes. Hence, HS2’s supposed generated traffic amounts to 1.5% of all surface rail journeys and to 0.05%, or one in 2,000, of all passenger journeys. Transformational? HA, HA.

    • Actually, the average loading on trains in Devon is likely to be rather less than the 140 you mentioned. South West Trains, despite its name, does not operate west of Exeter; passenger services in the peninsula are provided by First Great Western, and Cross Country.

      It is probably just as well that the Great Western is not a ‘lifeline’ to the South West. A lifeline that is blocked for days or weeks on end is not something to be depended on.

      But if the government decides that the regions should be connected by rail, that provision should be reliable and cost-effective. Clearly, spending £50 billion on HS2 is not compatible with maintaining worthwhile rail connections to regions like the South West, and East Anglia.


      February 14, 2014 at 11:28 am

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