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Ministers' report on Dawlish rail route alternatives due to be published

By Herald Express  |  Posted: July 13, 2014

Storm damaged Dawlish

Storm damaged Dawlish

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A report into proposed additional rail routes to the vulnerable Dawlish railway line is due to be published by Ministers this week.

The analysis by track managers Network Rail detailing how best to avoid the route collapsing as it did this February - causing chaos and hitting South Devon's economy - is expected to be made public by the Department for Transport (DfT).

Early drafts of the report appeared to rule out reinstating the line between Plymouth and Exeter, via Okehampton, which was closed in 1967, it has been reported.

Creating a new line connecting existing freight lines from near Exeter and close to Newton Abbot had also been dropped.

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Instead, the quango identified five 'new' route options – all starting on the outskirts of Exeter before looping at various degrees inland from the coast before connecting to the mainline again near Kingsteignton.

Even these more modest proposals would come with a hefty price tag, with one report claiming it could cost as much as £3billion, though Network Rail sources suggested they did not recognise the figure.

One suggestion is that ministers will agree to shore up the existing line immediately to avoid a repeat of this year’s carnage, and then complete a consultation on whether to carry out a much bigger upgrade before next April’s election - meaning the key decision will be for the next Government.

Mel Stride, Conservative MP for Central Devon, said: “I will continue to push for the Okehampton route – not as an alternative to a route to the west of Dartmoor but as a vital addition to support the economy of West Devon and ensure rail resilience for the peninsula.”

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3 comments

  • Tauntonhobbit  |  July 14 2014, 7:00PM

    Oh dear, as usual, what I said is taken out of context - I actually said 'come the election'. I have no vested interests, nor do I wish to make cheap political points.......... If Cornwall is to have a space port at Newquay (really?), one of the first requirements is a reliable rail link, which is capable of very heavy loads, to the outside world. I am not anti-Cameron, I am anti putting the world on hold for political purposes - I am anti Teresa May refusing to answer direct questions - I am anti Cameron (and others) giving answers that can be manipulated later to suit. I am a fervent supporter of change in the UK (no, I didn't vote UKIP). The idea that a solution to Dawlish might take decades fills me with horror - Cornwall really can't afford this sort of idiocy, otherwise it lands up as a similar mess to the Kingskerswell Bypass problem, which took fifty years (and on a very much smaller scale) to sort. I do get the feeling that UK plc is currently on hold until after the election, which really will not do. I mentioned Somerset because it is germane to the whole situation of delay & prevarication which is pervading the UK at present. The West Country is an undervalued asset, period. Whitehall is disinterested & does not understand regional matters at any depth - it's the old issue that 'there is life outside Islington' (& that was a failing of Blair & Co as well)

  • Dave123Cook  |  July 14 2014, 2:58PM

    It's hardy "walking away from the problem". Ask 20 different people to come up with a solution, and you will get 20 different answers, all depending on where they live (proven by the instant need of the Mid Devon MP to want the old, slow, unreliable Okehampton route re-instated. If a new route costing billions is to be funded by central government, there is no way a decision can be rushed as it will take years to get the route of a new line agreed upon, certainly not before the next election. I suspect the ideal option will end up with a high speed single line tunnel signalled for bi-directional running, it will cost less than twin bore, and it will speed up the quickest services between Plymouth/Torbay, and Exeter-London. All the slower trains would still use the sea wall, which has to be maintained anyway. It would be easier to make a case for this, than re-instating the old Okehampton route (although personally, I would enjoy the trip round there, the last train I was on recently to Okehampton a couple of Sundays ago, it was virtually empty). The fact that it was slow, and I have memories of the line being impassable from snow back in the 60's when it was used regularly, means that the route is not as resilient as people might like. I'll be watching this with great interest, as a regular local rail user, and as someone who really has no personal vested interest in trying to gain cheap political points..........

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  • Tauntonhobbit  |  July 14 2014, 9:09AM

    Absolutely no surprises here, come the election Cameron walks away from the Dawlish problem and the full dredging of the Somerset levels both - not 'his' problem any more - very convenient, I only hope that, come the Election voters remember this cynical behaviour and vote accordingly.

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