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Lynton and Barnstaple - Operations and Development

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Railways' started by Old Kent Biker, Jan 26, 2016.

  1. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Alas, more W.I.B.N. I fear. Romanticism about tourist railways fulfilling some form of transport function just leads to excessive route mileage. A revived L. & B. will prosper or otherwise according to its performance as a tourist attraction. As a public transport provider, the original line was defeated by road commercial vehicles 1930 style.

    PH
     
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  2. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    I half agree with you Paul. In this instance however, I'd point out that there's a real desire on the part of authorities to reduce the road traffic burden on the tourist honeypots of Lynton & Lynmouth. This is a major factor which simply didn't exist to any significant degree on the original line.

    Of course, whether or not some 'park and ride' function becomes a reality will depend on how economically realistic it can be. I'd fully accept that heritage style operations would find it difficult (if not impossible) to make some such a practical proposition. We can all cite cases where something similar has been proposed and (even with diesel services) subsequently died a quiet death (West Someset, Paignton, Wensleydale), but the twin villages share more in common with Clovelly (and arguably with Swanage) than any of those locations.

    I suspect that in any event, the idea of running regular tourist services over even half the length of the original line with purely compartment stock (with no bogs!) may prove challenging. The IMR & VoR can justifiably point to the historic nature of their locos and carriages, though even there, modifications have been made to IMR saloon stock, and the VoR seems to be indulging even the lower orders with the luxury of padded seats! Whilst beautifuly re-created L&B stock is an extremely welcome sight, and will always have a place on the line, will it be suitable for front-line 21st century tourist requirements?

    Whether other than die-hard gricers and photographers prefer the 'authentic experience', or merely wish to have a scenic train ride behind a steam loco remains to be seen. We all well know that this issue has led to a differnet ethos for 'commercial heritage' operations on the FR/WHR, even so, note that it shares with the definitely authentic VoR a very practical approach to timetabling, according to market conditions. A resuscitated L&B couldn't be expected to do differently.

    Whether talking Blackmoor Gate to Lynton, or whole line, whilst lessons can and should be learned from precedent, the L&B is in a unique situation, and knowledge gained elsewhere will need to be adapted in equally unique ways.

    Note that I'm emphatically NOT suggesting the L&B can perform the sort of everyday transport function that has eluded the rest of the heritage sector, but to dismiss out of hand the opportunities presented by ENPA policy regarding road traffic really would be looking a gift horse in the mouth. I see less WIBN in that than in the suggestion, just a couple of decades ago, that there was any prospect of even a mile of restored L&B.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
  3. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Swanage works as a park and ride because the terminus is right in the middle of town whereas at Lynton/Lynmouth it most certainly is not! Public authorities can be as afflicted by W.I.B.N. wishful thinking as any gricer and I fear an example of this is, alas, the main line connection proposed for Wareham. Locals wanting to shop at Wareham used the bus rather than the train because of the distance and the change in levels between the station and the town.

    A reasonably authentic reconstruction of part of the L &B is possible if the route and journey time are kept to a sensible length.

    PH
     
  4. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Well-Known Member

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    The whole of the steam preservation movement has its roots deeply set in and is in fact an abject lesson in W.I.B.N. Certainly two steps forward, one step back at times, but that's most things in life hey? We would all be reading about steam trains in books but thanks to W.I.B.N you can go and smell them. W.I.B.N is the spark that sets the fire a blaze.

    Stop stealing the sunshine!

    (Strapping myself in for yet another ride on the footplate with captain negative pants).
     
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  5. G41

    G41 New Member

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    Now back to can they find the staff to run the thing Hitch, I did a bit of research last week and from Bishops Waltham to Blackmoor Gate and we found that the journey time was not bad not quite 3 hours, quite acceptable at the hours that loco crew etc would be on the road. I for one feel the prospect of having a proper narrow gauge in the south coast rather exciting better than just going around in circles!
     
  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I'm sure @paulhitch will agree with that!

    Tom
     
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  7. G41

    G41 New Member

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    Now then copper capped, I don't think "captain negative pants" is any way to refer to an active member of the preservation moment who has always had a point of discussion on the footplate or in the mess room many years!!!!! He might be as mad as the rest of us for liking chuff chuff trains but is one hell of a good egg who has but in many a hard hour looking after locos and beer drinking and just happens to have at times a realistic and pragmatic view on things
     
  8. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Yes indeed! Thems my sentiments exactly.

    Paul H
     
  9. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    Let's be blunt. If you were an active preservationist you would know exactly how much work and expense were involved. Things as basic as cutting back undergrowth and painting station benches. This is apart from the labour and expense of keeping historic equipment going without the cost frightening off the customers.

    Recently, a railway I am associated imported a relic from your part of the world. A colleague experienced in import/export investigated the bona fides of the object and the vendor (both fine) whilst the hat was passed round the rest of us. So you see, even obtaining a single museum exhibit takes time and money.

    W.I.B.N. was excusable when the Talyllyn Railway was formed and we knew no better. Nowadays we are (or should be) more aware.

    PH
     
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  10. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Well-Known Member

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    Paul, I fully understand there are many many hoops that need to be jumped through to get things off the ground - cost being one such easy example as well as all the red tape the modern world brings with it.

    What grips my swede is the way W.I.B.N seems to get used as a dirty word to ridicule ideas. Without it, and not just confined to this thread, or even this forum, or indeed life itself we would all still be sitting in caves throwing rocks at the wall for amusement! In many ways the preservation movement never had it so good. The Internet for one is an amazing tool for awareness and fundraising that was not available when preservation was in its infancy. Government grants are also now on the table in Oz as I think lottery funding is your equivalent. (Correct me if I'm wrong). Thanks to modern engineering, preservation is able to go further and has now even morfed into the realms of new builds - personally I think it would be nice if all that cash could go into restoration works, (I'm a sucker for old rusty things!), but somebody with a dream must have crunched the numbers!

    I apologise for the personal "captain negative pants" comment. It was a bit "knee jerk" as I read through the last bit of this thread the red mist came down. It definitely in no way alluded to any of your achievements in preservation, (as was proffered above by someone coming to your defence), or your (undoubted) passion, however I stand by the sentiment of my first post regarding the "W"word.

    Thanks.
     
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  11. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    So far as the original station site at Lynton is concerned, Paul's point is clearly an unanswerable one (Goodness knows how many lines closed due to poorly sited & inacessible stations - and, if listing 'em in alphabetical order, you don't even need to cite Ventnor once to be sure of hitting double figures!!).

    Note though, the new L&B have plans to extend the line in order to provide a more favourable terminal location, although it's safe to assume that any new site will still be fairly high above that part of Lynton which attracts tourists. Unless the funicular is extended somewhat (calm down....I jest!), the location of the terminus could be as severely limiting a factor today as for the old line. I'd be as interested as anyone in learning how the revivalists propose to approach this vital issue.

    The matter of an acceptable journey time (more especially should the enterprise succeed in reaching Barnstaple) is intimately linked to the type of rolling stock provided. I believe my own views on expecting Joe Public (especially Joe Jr) to remain in a compartment for 90mins without the most basic of 'facilities' are already clear.

    The factors which ensured the downfall of the old L&B remain inherent in it's route. Clearly no-one (in their right mind) is going to market the line as 'the quickest and best way to reach Lynton', let alone Lynmouth, but equally clearly, in terms of passegers per mile, the current operation is one of the most efficient in the heritage sector. If some workable solution to access issues at the Lynton end can be found (and just because neither Paul nor I can think of any right now doesn't mean some bright spark won't come up with something practical), then the potential for P&R traffic can be realised.

    Regarding Paul's point about the viability of longer heritage operations, IMO there's no simple single answer. A line from somewhere to somewhere isn't enough to guarantee success if those 'somewheres' are too far apart. Let's say a P&R from Blackmoor Gate to Lynton can be successfully operated in peak season, for arguments sake on an hourly basis (yes - it's an extremely optimistic number!). It doesn't therefore follow that this would mean services onwards from BG to the fleshpots of metropolitan Barnstaple would be at anything like that level. It's well worth noting that the WHR (probably the closest in terms of distance & target market) hardly requires an even vaguely intensive service.

    The point Paul makes concerning Wareham is likewise perfectly valid, with respect to it's potential as a source of local traffic. The principal purpose of that link surely is to provide access to/from the big railway? Any resultant local traffic would be nice, and great for publicity purposes, but I share the suspicion that it would be negligible from the income point of view. The L&B may well, one day, be in a similar situation at Barnstaple.

    Given the potential future situation in Barnstaple and Paul's noted affiliation with the W&L, I'd ask what his opinion is of any future extension from Raven Square to the main station at Welshpool. Since the matter was raised a couple of years ago (albeit IIRC by politicians), and leaving aside for a moment those four letters (!), could some reasonable route be found, would such a scheme have sufficient positive impact to merit serious consideration? I believe the paralells between Barnstaple and Welshpool make this question worthy of inclusion.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
  12. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    I've always been somewhat suspicious of the L&B extension project until, that is, I visited last year. The area is packed full of visitors and the railways is already operating very full trains on a quite limited run from nowhere to nowhere. Whether a full rebuilding could ever be justified remains to be seen, but a significant extension would seem highly likely to be successful in terms of driving growth. What did you think when you visited Paul?
     
  13. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    There will be challenges aplenty at the Barnstaple end if the L&B get there.

    My sense, based on slight local knowledge, is of goodwill towards a nice idea, but wary concern about the viability of the L&B alignment within town limits far as Pilton and complete disbelief about the possibility of going further towards Town given the traffic in Barnstaple.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  14. ghost

    ghost Part of the furniture

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    As I understand it, the plan is to stop at Pilton. This avoids not only the problems of new developments blocking the trackbed, but also removes a level crossing across a busy road. Pilton seems to be reasonably central to Barnstaple anyway (I stand to be corrected) so it's not the end of the world to terminate there.
    As far as Lynton is concerned, I believe a site has been identified for a new station, although I don't think it has been purchased yet. I seem to recall a plan to run a vintage bus from the new station into Lynton and/or the cliff railway station.

    Regarding carriages, I think the plan is to eventually have a set (or 2) of modern carriages with a bit of a heritage feel to their design, which will have toilets, possibly corridor connections and refreshment facilities, these will be in Southern livery while the original carriages will be maintained in L&B livery and used for less intensive services.

    I would think that Blackmoor Gate will be marketed as the starting point for journeys and the customer would then decide in which direction to travel. As mentioned above it's probable that there will be greater demand in the Lynton direction than in the Barnstaple direction.

    All the above is my understanding from years of following the L&B reconstruction and from various statements on their Yahoo group, none of it should be taken as official policy!


    Keith
     
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  15. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    On my last visit WHR & Ffestiniog trains seemed to consist of a mix of modern & 'heritage' stock so there was something for everyone
     
  16. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    You have been more recently than I. It was fine although. prior to the return of the original passenger vehicles, it did not particularly "zing my strings"

    PH
     
  17. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    Like Keith, I've included the unfolding L&B story (and that of Exmoor Associates) on my regular website trawls. Post 514 pretty much sums up my undertanding of things, though any proposal for a second modern carriage set is news to me. The lack of any mention of motive power doesn't surprise me. Do I recall a comment that NGG16s definitely weren't on the shopping list for whatever reason?

    Although quite optimistic about the Blackmoor Gate - Lynton section, I rather feel that, unless I'm missing something significant, the Barnstaple end presents some real challenges. The business case for extension to Pilton only, I confess concerns me. The only reason for the extra mileage looks to me to lie in achieving a mainline connection, which as has been pointed out, presents a very high set hurdles to be overcome. Short of inclusion in some future road (or possibly even river) improvement scheme to gain acess to the big railway, I see little prospect of making any case beyond the obvious sentimental one. Without such a link, does Barnstaple stack up as a proposition?

    Please don't get me wrong, I'd dearly love to be proved totally incorrect on this, but the points made in several earlier posts regarding pricing, staffing, route maintenance & operational costs are very real.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
  18. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    A rather enormous thread drift but you specifically asked so here goes.
    Raven Square to the main line is the W.I.B.N. to end all of its sort. There is a snatch of film which shows a vehicle being loose shunted across the public road near to the transhipment shed. Always a bad idea but nowadays a "badder" one still even if the site were not completely covered by roads. Space was tight then and is worse now. The old route through the town is really the only option still and a terminus in the car park might be possible. However...........

    There are at least three level crossings over classified roads along the route. Very likely these would require automatic barriers at a cost of say £1m+ in total. (The railway has already had to provide such barriers at Castle Caereinion) Much of the route is at 1 in 30 of which inclination the railway has quite enough already. Parts of it run along a continuous trestle viaduct over a stream which would not be straightforward to maintain. Most visitors arrive by car or motor coach which is a general reality of tourist railways gricers are all too fond of ignoring. Begins to stack up doesn't it.

    Paul H
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2017
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  19. paulhitch

    paulhitch Guest

    It's that infernal word "nice" again. Redolent of hard work and financial sacrifice by others. Easy to say.

    PH
     
  20. 30854

    30854 Part of the furniture

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    Many thanks for the comprehensive reply Paul. I have to admit I thought I recalled a piece in a local paper two or three years back, suggesting an alternative route (IIRC via some industrial units?) The last road crossing, to the re-sited mainline station, was discounted in favour of a footbridge connection. I think it was a local (or county) councillor. Despite some positive rumblings, I don't think it got past a first mention in council.

    The former route, as your explaination makes abundantly clear, adds another defined reason not to attempt a particular restoration : Too much of a bl--dy liabilty to operate, however photogenic!!

    It's a shame that leisure travel by train (certainly in mid-Wales) seems to have atrophied to the point where a connection doesn't weigh more heavily in favour of achieving one. Even nowadays, not all of us have cars (frankly, here in Brighton & Hove, they're a liabilty!!), which is the main reason my "hit" of steam is supplied by the local ME mob up at Hove Park Miniature Railway.
     
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