Developing the Salisbury to Exeter Railway for two trains an hour
Comments arising from the recent announcement for the new loop at Axminster.
The Whimple Loop
Only the Axminster loop will be built under current plans for the Exeter to Waterloo line and not the Whimple loop as hoped for. The new hourly Waterloo-Exeter service, planned for December 2009, will pass up and down trains about 6 miles further west than Whimple on the existing double line at Pinhoe.
To achieve this stops at Pinhoe, Whimple and Feniton will be omitted from every other train. These few stations will not gain the hourly service to Waterloo, but long distance passengers will saves 7 or more minutes on alternate trains.
The new hourly service is planned to accommodate a new station to serve the new town of Cranbrook. This is unlikely to be built by December 2009, so in the meantime the time allocation for Cranbrook could be used to serve some of the missed out stations such as Pinhoe.
An Exeter to Axminster service could also be run every 2 hours, in addition to the hourly Exeter to Waterloo service. The shuttle service could be operated by one train unit. Pinhoe, Whimple and Feniton could be served as well as Cranbrook. However, spacing with the hourly service would be irregular, eg. 25 minutes, 1 hour 35 minutes, 25 minute gaps, etc between trains.
The Whimple area loop could be added later to make the shuttle service hourly.
Better Exeter to Waterloo Journey Times
Exeter to Waterloo trains currently take longer than the down trains from London, due to the need to stop in the Tisbury loop for around 8 minutes and also because an extra 7 minutes is allowed on the up Salisbury to Waterloo schedule. The extra minutes appear in the working timetable over the 7¼ miles between Wimbledon and Waterloo.
The Barry Doe timetable proposal perpetuated existing timings east of Yeovil Junction. This gave a 3 hour 39 minute up timing from Exeter to Waterloo and 3 hour 22 minute down timing. However, the proposed new timetable will see down trains waiting in the Tisbury loop instead. Up and down timings will therefore be similar.
Trains calling at Pinhoe, Whimple and Feniton will take 3 hours 26 minutes from Exeter to Waterloo and 3 hours 30 minutes return. The faster ones will be 3 hours 19 minutes eachway.
These timings should be welcomed.
Beyond Hourly East of Axminster and Diversionary paths for Paddington Trains
To project the shuttle service east of Axminster would require track doubling west of Yeovil Junction for some distance towards Crewkerne. Less new track would be needed if all passing was done closer to Chard Junction rather than Axminster, but to avoid increasing Exeter to Waterloo journey times this solution means finding new Salisbury to Waterloo paths.
However, non stop running of trains from Honiton (departing in the shuttle path) to Yeovil Junction and vice versa means that little more than 2 miles of new track is needed west of Yeovil Junction. This would allow the line to accommodate some diverted Paddington line trains when needed, while maintaining the standard hourly Exeter to Waterloo service.
The diverted services might best use the available paths by running in hourly flights e.g. a set of up hourly services from Exeter in the morning, a set of down trains late morning, up afternoon services and finally return down evening services from Paddington to Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance.
Conclusions and Campaign Objectives.