Friday, 5 June 2020

Bid to Open a Stretch of Devon Railway Line

Two Devon MPs are asking the Government to fund a study into reconnecting a stretch of railway to the main network half a century after it closed.

They want to find out if it would be possible to restore network services to Goodrington and Churston stations between Paignton and Brixham, which are on part of a line currently used by a heritage steam railway.

Torbay MP Kevin Foster and Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall joined forces to submit an expression of interest after Torbay Council decided not to go forward with the idea.

The Government invited bids for schemes to bring back services at stations which were closed during the Beeching era of cuts.

The former Great Western Railway branch line from Paignton to Kingswear through Goodrington and Churston was officially closed by British Rail in 1972.

It was sold to the Dart Valley Railway and the seven-mile line is now run by the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company.

It is popular with tourists and provides a link from Paignton to a ferry crossing from Kingswear over the River Dart to Dartmouth.

Goodrington Station is a stop on the heritage line and is near Goodrington Sands and Quay West water park, close to a large car park.

Mr Foster said he wanted to see if it would be feasible to create a parkway-style station at Goodrington as an alternative to the station in Paignton town centre.

He said it would allow commuters and leisure users easier access to the Riviera Line rail link to Torquay, Newton Abbot and Exeter.

It would also take passengers straight to the beach and leisure facilities at Goodrington, which would be an economic boost for the area.

Restoring network services to Churston would mean a rail link near Brixham after the closure of the branch line.

Mr Foster said he was disappointed that the council decided not to submit an expression of interest to the Government.

He said successful bids would get funding to cover the costs of a study, and it only took him and Mr Mangnall two hours to fill in the forms.

Mr Foster said: “The track is still there, but it would have to be brought up to Network Rail standards.

“I don’t doubt there are challenges, but this has been an aspiration talked about for years.

“The minister was really excited about some of the ideas put forward. Let’s at least get the funding for the study, and find out if it is viable.”

Mr Foster said he would like to see the year-round service restored as long as it fitted in with the heritage railway using the line.

In January the Government announced £500million for the reopening of closed rail links called the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

Councils and communities were invited by the Government to submit bids for a share of an initial £300,000 ideas fund to develop proposals.

The Beeching cuts in the 1960s, named after British Rail chief Dr Richard Beeching, ended passenger services on around a third of the rail network.

More than 2,300 stations were closed and up to 5,000 miles of track went out of use across the UK.

The Government has also announced a new round of its New Stations Fund.

Torbay Council is intending to put in a bid for a new station at Edginswell, on the main line between Newton Abbot and Torre.

A total of £20million is available under the scheme.