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Lynton and Barnstaple - Operations and Development

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by 50044 Exeter, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Hi Howard,
    I must say that I'm unable to comprehend the idea of constructing a separate line, out of sequence from Blackmoor to Wistlandpound. It makes no apparent sense financially, operationally, or logistically. It certainly isn't needed to secure any permissions, and that's quite apart from there being no space for any servicing and maintenance facility. Add to that, Blackmoor is still in private ownership. Any construction plant and materials would have to be brought in from the south end, next to the Calvert Trust, as there is no other means of access. It just doesn't make any logical sense, unless it is, at a stretch, to rebuild that section and then leave it until it is needed. Even then, it would be a financial drain at a time when all resources need to be focused northwards. As I've said, I cannot see any logic to it, and I really have tried.
    The loop, if not necessarily the second platform, would be needed at Parracombe for a balanced 2-train operation, but then again, the Bluebell managed perfectly well until 1994 with their 5 mile section until Horsted became a proper crossing point.
    Incidentally, the L&B will have a tunnel, albeit a short one!;) but it's a valid point you make. I guess it would be ENPAs decision about how long final cosmetic finishing could be deferred for civil engineering. My guess, given their remit, is "not long".
     
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  2. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    1. Although the original planning application - and the plan with the Sec 73 application - does show a tunnel at BR, AIUI that was merely an initial indication for the general concept. Equally, the original plan showed the depot connected only into the up loop - in fact, there was not even a connection drawn between the two loops at the northern end anyway ! Since then, things have moved on with the design process.

    The main depot access has been moved to the single-line north of the loops, to enable easy access to/from either loop and a second access added at the Lynton end, mainly as a 'fall back' in the event of the main depot access getting blocked, but also useful potentially for Engineering trains to work down the line without the SB at BR being manned. Given the proximity of the depot access crossover to the throat of the fan of sidings, a short-ish head-shunt has been added at the station end so that at least engines can shunt about without needing to occupy the single-line. There is scope within the signalling design for that head-shunt to connected to the Up loop if so desired, but that is more of a 'nice to have' than an operational necessity and merely adds to the complication.

    AIUI it was decided at an early stage by those looking at the civil engineering that it would easier/better, instead of a tunnel, to have two separate under-bridges, one for the main road and one for the station access road. If that decision has been reversed, then I've not heard about it (yet). The 2-bridges arrangement is much better from an operational/signalling viewpoint - and certainly eliminated a lot of head-scratching! - as it makes it much easier to plan the layout and signal locations without having to try to avoid placing anything inside a tunnel.

    On paper at least it does seem that the signalman at BR will have limited visibility of the layout under his control north of the main road, but simply adding a liberal amount of track-circuiting to circumvent that problem simply adds to the ongoing costs of installation and maintenance. Like many things, TCs are prone to failure (hopefully right-sided !), usually at the most inconvenient times, which is why I've cautioned about having any designs which require more than might be absolutely essential/desirable. After all, will the L&BR always have a local S&T technician on-hand to fix such things?

    2. As regards PE, initial informal work on train schedules suggested that for about 75% of the time there would be no need for a loop or block-post there, and even perhaps for about 90-95% of the time the timetable could be designed to avoid that need. The main benefits would seem to be just (a) Gala and other 'high density traffic' days and (b) berthing PW trains. Most of the latter could probably be accommodated anyway outside of normal service hours, so that leaves merely Galas as a 'driver'. Don't forget also that IIRC the original proposals for a loop at PE described it as temporary for Phase 2A only. A quick look at the Construction Stage Plan 7 will show that, even with the eventual availability of the trackbed south of PE, it will be very difficult - if not impossible - to squeeze in a loop for an 'engine+5 coaches' trains with all coaches at a useable platform face without needing to acquire more land to one side. Also, I have been told - but I can't verify this - that the topology of the site would require extensive (and hence expensive and possibly controversial) excavation on the Up side of the line to provide for the extra track and platform. There is also the question of how would passengers get to/from the new Up platform other than by means of either a foot-bridge (not likely to find favour locally) or a board-crossing (likely to fall foul of ORR dislike of new 'level crossings').

    My personal view is that initially nothing more than the basic 'original' layout should be considered for PE and that a long and careful evaluation of the supposed benefits should be conducted before anything more extensive is planned, let alone built. The railway equivalent of not trying to run before one can walk. I'm sure there will be those who may disagree :)
     
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  3. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Whilst possibly of distant future relevance, the 'tunnel thing' is (like any crazy talk of a new bridge over the Taw) most definitely one for some other time! ;)

    According to Catchpole, the original L&B mileages (from Barnataple) were:
    Blackmoor 11m62c
    Parracombe 14m33c (2m51c from Blackmoor)
    Woody Bay 15m77c (1m44c from Parracombe : 4m15c from Blackmoor)

    For those who've grown up with a marginally less illogical system of measurements, that puts Parracombe closer to 1/3 than 1/2 or the distance from Woody Bay. For the full length of the current extention, add the extra distance to Wistlandpound (which looks a bit shy of a mile ... I'm guessing around 60c) and Parracombe becomes even further short of the half way mark (closer to Rowley Moor House than Parracombe). Add in the likely effect of souring neighbourly relations in and around the village, and surely the wisdom of doing more than reinstating the previous halt in Parracombe has to be questioned.
     
  4. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    If it is feasible to reconstruct Parracombe in it's original form, without needing it as a crossing point, then that's marvelous. Apart from mitigating local antagonism, it also appeals to my "purist" side!
    RW, many thanks for your very detailed overview regarding Blackmoor- I've learned a fair bit from that, and how challenging the layout and S/T requirements are. Quite a bit of crystal ball work involved, whilst all the time, as you say, balancing anticipated needs against over-complication. Incidentally, regarding signalman's visibility north of the road bridge, I'm guessing that CCTV, however undesirable, has been considered and dismissed?
    Regarding the bridge, or "brunnel", I always understood it as you described, 2 parallel cut and cover sections for trains and pedestrians rather than a tunnel, per se. although it seems a long time since I last looked at the plans. Presumably a similar cut and cover will one day, (though possibly not in my lifetime), be required at Martinhoe Cross for Lynton- bound trains.
    And thanks for reminding me that the passing loop at PE was only intended to remain until 2B was operational, I'd completely forgotten that point, but as I said above, so much the better if it's never required at all!
     
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  5. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    I don't understand your comment about 'pedestrians' at BR, as the 2 bridges to which I referred are simply to take the two roads over the railway. No need to get pedestrians (other than railway staff trackside) from the station to the Depot or vice-versa. AIUI the pedestrian underpass would be further to the east, to get the public to/from the station and the new car-park. Actually, I can't recall if CCTV has been considered or not, but it could be useful if feasible.

    I'm not a civil engineer, but I see no obvious obstacle to reinstating PE in its original form, given that you would be simply be putting back what was there previously, although it might be that you would need to extend the length of the platform. However, when it comes to the matter of a loop - whether as a passing-loop or as a run-round loop for a terminus - there is another problem that has been brought to my attention recently. Quite clearly the presence of the Churchtown bridge is a physical constraint as to how far the loop can extend towards KL, but it's worse than I thought of just having the toe of the point by the bridge. Apparently the clearances under the bridge are less than modern tolerances, so a train could pass thru' OK on dead straight track, but as soon as you have a bogie coach starting to curve to one side or the other into a loop then the increased overhang/swing could foul the abutments (if I understand it correctly!). So the toe of the north end point has to be at least one coach length south of the bridge, which of course reduces the potential length of the loop and even more so in the 'temporary terminus' form.

    It would be feasible of course to have PE in its original form as regards layout, but also capable of acting as a block-post as required, so that you could send two trains in one direction or the other between WB and BR, kept apart by PE. I did do some preliminary work on this last year for various reasons, but like many other design matters it then went into abeyance waiting for any decision as to whether it was worth pursuing. Still waiting....
     
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  6. Mark Thompson

    Mark Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I'd have to go back and look at the original plans submitted, but all I can recall is the A399 road over, and two parallel box section subways, one for rail, one for pedestrians crossing under the A399 from the car park, and divided by a wall. Sounds like it's been superseded. I'm going to have to look again, aren't I? Anyway, it's still a way in the future yet.
    Edit- just looked, and yes, as I thought, it's me going gagga. Just ignore me!
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2022
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  7. Kanonkopdrinker

    Kanonkopdrinker New Member

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    New maps just added to Exmoor Associates’ website ‘News’ section, showing who owns what between Wistlandpound and Barnstaple …..
     
  8. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    Very interesting - Quite a lot left to secure. There are some quite short lengths shown.
     
  9. Ploughman

    Ploughman Part of the furniture

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  10. Meiriongwril

    Meiriongwril Member

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    Would be nice if they completed the map into the northern sections, even if these are technically part of the Trust's territory...
     
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  11. H Cloutt

    H Cloutt Member

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    Maybe the trust could be 'encouraged' to do this.
     
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  12. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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  13. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    No, it still belongs to the BRB's successor. No point in the L&BR taking it on - and hence potentially horrendous maintenance costs - until such time as they need to run trains across it.
     
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  14. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Cheers for that. Makes sense. Last I heard was when it was tarted up and the parapets reinstated a few years back.

    I suspect, as landmark assets go, Chelfham Viaduct will be right up there with Sharpthorne Tunnel, beloved by all .... barring civil engineers and finance directors! :)
     
  15. ilvaporista

    ilvaporista Part of the furniture

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    You could be forgiven for thinking what a lovely section Snapper to Chelfham would make with much of it already within the family! Totally impractical from the access point of view though.
     
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  16. RailWest

    RailWest Part of the furniture

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    Ironically, my thoughts also when I looked at the map.
     
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  17. SpudUk

    SpudUk Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this, I hadn't quite realised just how much of the route from Barnstaple to Chelfham was secured
     
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  18. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    It’s when you have Sharpthorne Tunnel and Imberhorne Viaduct that you really have to worry!

    Tom
     
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  19. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Dunno how I forgot to mention Imberhome. Very impressive chunk of masonry seen from below, although it doesn't quite make it's presence felt to window hangers in quite the same way as the waterfall at the north end of the tunnel. :)
     
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  20. SpudUk

    SpudUk Well-Known Member

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    Even Chelfham to a new, larger terminus on the outskirts of Barnstaple seems more practical.

    I'm slightly concerned about the Parracombe project. Whilst it's a good idea in principle (not least for planning reasons), it can be incredibly difficult to regain public good will when it's lost
     
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