The biggest investment for 100 years to improve the Tarka line

Posted: 19 October 2012 | | No comments yet

Network Rail are delivering more improvements to the line linking Barnstaple and Exeter…

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Network Rail are delivering more improvements to the line linking Barnstaple and Exeter, to make the train ride smoother and help pave the way for faster journey times.

Network Rail are starting work at the beginning of November 2012 renewing track at Lapford and also between Eggesford and Portsmouth Arms with further track renewal improvements planned between Crediton and Yeoford, and in the Umberleigh and Chapelton areas next March 2013.

The latest programme of improvements includes renewing old jointed rail with modern continuously welded rail – giving an immediate benefit in train ride quality and brings the total investment on the line to £9.3m to date in the current financial year (April 2012 – March 2013).

Temporary closure

As part of the programme, the line will be closed for major track renewal work from Saturday 17 November 2012 to the morning of Monday 3 December 2012. The work in March 2013 is expected to take an additional seven days.

In both November 2012 and March 2013, the railway will remain open for trains as far as Crediton, with replacement road transport being provided between Crediton and stations to Barnstaple.

More information can be found on Tarka Rail Association’s web site.

Fact file*

  • £304,500 (equivalent to £4.6m today) was spent in 1965 replacing the bridges at Cowley Bridge
  • Prior to 1965, investment in what is now the Tarka Line was effectively stopped in 1910 with the Traffic Pooling Agreement between the London and South Western Railway (the line’s then owners) and the Great Western Railway, who owned the Taunton – Barnstaple line
  • Under the Traffic Pooling Agreement , the two railway companies decided to end competition and share their receipts on the basis of the traffic carried – this removed any incentive to improve either line and, indeed, the London and South Western Railway promptly cancelled plans to double the line between Copplestone and Umberleigh
  • On completion, Network Rail will have renewed nearly nine miles of track, just under a quarter of the line’s 39 miles, replacing track which had an average age of 55 years, with some of the earliest components dating back to 1942
  • Over the last 10 years, the number of trains on the line has increased, reflecting a significant increase in passenger use
  • The number of journeys made on the line was more than 500,000 in a single year for the first time in 2011, and has increased by more than two-thirds between 2006 and 2011, from 306,169 journeys then to 512,091 in 2011

*Historical details provided by Richard Burningham, Manager of the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership with thanks to John Nicholas’ history of the line ‘The North Devon Line’.

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