BBC News Online has a page up about the alternatives to the Dawlish route, for the railways in Cornwall and Devon.
Now, I’ve posted about this before, both on my radio show’s Facebook page, and here on the Viewpoint blog. And I’ll be honest with you, this matters a lot to me. After the closure of Plymouth City Airport, the loss of the helicopter link to the Isles of Scilly, and the continued situation at Newquay airport, which could close if subsidy isn’t made available, the fact that our only rail link to Exeter, Bristol, London, Birmingham, Scotland, and Wales is shut for 2 months, is a situation I want us to avoid in the future, AT ALL COSTS.
Let me say that again, at all costs.
With that said, let’s look at the routes proposed.
The first three I’ll mention here, are new routes, which require a lot of work. They basically by-pass Dawlish to rejoin the main line, either at Dawlish Warren, Powderham or Exminster. These are not pre-existing lines, and would require a lot more work than any of the other routes. In my view, these would only be any good if there had been no other alternatives.
The next route I’ll mention here is the old Teign Valley line, which connects Newton Abbot to Exeter, via Chudleigh and Christow. It needs a little rebuilding, but it is a workable solution for when the Dawlish line is disrupted as it has been this winter. I do have to agree with what the experts say though, it is of limited benefit really, but after the disruption we’ve had, I’ll happily take a limited benefit route over the messy situation that we as travellers have had to put up with. This route should be put in place.
The last route is my personal favourite and should be running all the time, even alongside the main Dawlish route. This is the over Dartmoor route that runs from Plymouth, up the current Gunnislake branch line to Bere Alston, then up an already committed line to Tavistock, then along a rebuilt stretch to Okehampton before joining up with an existing line that is currently used for freight, and Sunday passenger service during the summer, to Exeter. This route should never have closed in the first place, and frankly, it shouldn’t be just an emergency route, it should be in operation all day, every day.
Unfortunately some people near the Tavistock route, seem to have very distorted priorities in this affair…
“…Colin Rogers, who owns the old Tavistock station - a mixture of holiday cottages and private homes - said property owners were concerned about how much compensation they would get…”
Perhaps those property owners should consider compensating the business in their own area and everywhere westward for the loss of income that has resulted from the line closure at Dawlish. If they invested in property without having a substantial cushion of liquid capital, then they’re playing in a class that they have no right to be in. If they can’t handle the risk, they shouldn’t be playing the high risk, high rent district of property.