West of England line

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West of England line
Templecombe 159004.jpg
Templecombe station
Overview
Type Suburban rail, Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Termini Basingstoke
Exeter St David's
Stations 21 (Basingstoke to Exeter St David's)
Operation
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) South Western Railway
Depot(s) Salisbury TMD
Rolling stock Class 158 "Express Sprinter"
Class 159 "South Western Turbo"
Technical
Line length 120 mi 77 ch (194.67 km) [Basingstoke to Exeter St David's]
172 mi 12 ch (277.05 km) [London to Exeter St David's via SWML]
Number of tracks Two (Basingstoke to Salisbury and Pinhoe to Exeter St David's)
One* (Salisbury to Pinhoe) *Various passing loops
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Operating speed 90 mph maximum
West of England line
0 miles
London Waterloo
47¾
Basingstoke
Worting Junction
and Battledown Flyover
Oakley
55½
Overton
590
Whitchurch
Hurstbourne
66¼
Andover
72½
Grateley
Idmiston Halt
Porton
Salisbury Tunnel
83½
Salisbury
Wessex Main Line
to Bristol Temple Meads
Wilton South
Barford St Martin Viaduct
Dinton
96¼
Tisbury
Semley
105¼
Gillingham
Gillingham Viaduct
Buckhorn Weston Tunnel
1120
Templecombe
Milborne Port
1180
Sherborne
Yeovil Pen Mill
Yeovil Town
122½
Yeovil Junction
Sutton Bingham
131½
Crewkerne
Crewkerne Tunnel
Chard Junction
144½
Axminster
Seaton Junction
Honiton Tunnel
154¾
Honiton
Roundball Halt
River Otter viaduct
159¼
Feniton
1630
Whimple
166¼
Cranbrook
Broad Clyst
168½
Pinhoe
Whipton Bridge Halt
Mount Pleasant Road Halt
Blackboy Tunnel
1710
St James Park
171½
Exeter Central
St David's Tunnel
172¼
Exeter St Davids

The West of England line (also known as the West of England Main Line) is a British railway line from Basingstoke, Hampshire, to Exeter St David's in Devon, England. Passenger services run between London Waterloo station and Exeter. Despite its historic title, it is not today's principal route from London to the West of England: Exeter and everywhere further west is reached more quickly from London Paddington via the Reading–Taunton line. At Salisbury, the line intersects with the Wessex Main Line.

History

When all sections had been incorporated into the London and South Western Railway, they consisted of the following:

The line was downgraded by being singled for long sections west of Salisbury by British Rail. This restricts the number of trains on this section, but passing loops have been added to alleviate this problem.

Beyond Exeter, the line continued to Plymouth via Okehampton and Tavistock as the Exeter to Plymouth railway of the LSWR. This line is now partly closed, with the surviving sections downgraded to branch lines. The section from Exeter to Coleford Junction, near Yeoford, is still in existence as part of the Tarka Line (which continues to Barnstaple). The Dartmoor Railway still exists as a heritage line and industrial line from Coleford Junction to Okehampton, where the track breaks. Tavistock lacks a rail connection, and the final section of the original main line, from Bere Alston, continues to Plymouth as part of the Tamar Valley Line.

Route

Trains between London Waterloo and Exeter run on the South Western Main Line as far as Basingstoke. The West of England Line diverges from this line at Worting Junction, a short distance west of Basingstoke.

Network Rail splits the line into two sections: the first section from the line's start at Worting Junction (near Basingstoke) to Wilton Junction (near Salisbury) is classified as "London & SE commuter"; the section from Wilton Junction to Exeter is a "Secondary" route. The secondary route west of Salisbury is predominantly single track, but has three sections of double track and four passing loops.[1] The double track sections and passing loops are: a loop just outside Tisbury station,a loop at Gillingham station, double track from Templecombe to Yeovil Junction, a loop at the former Chard Junction station, 3 miles of double track centred on Axminster, a loop at Honiton station, and double track from Pinhoe to Exeter.

The line's speed limit is mainly 80–90 mph over its whole length from Basingstoke to Exeter.[2] Speed is further limited around the junctions. The first section to Wilton Junction has a listed line speed of 50–90 mph, and the secondary section to Exeter has a line speed of mainly 85 mph with parts at 70 mph.[1]

Current operations

Passenger services are currently operated by South Western Railway using Class 159 and Class 158 trains. They generally run half-hourly from London to Salisbury and hourly to Exeter, calling at Clapham Junction and/or Woking and then most stations between Basingstoke and Exeter St David's although some smaller stations east of Salisbury and near Exeter have a reduced service.[3][4]

The Network Rail South West Main Line Route Utilisation Strategy (March 2006) recommended building an extended section of double track from Chard Junction to Axminster, plus a passing loop at Whimple. However, Network Rail's Route Plan[5] is silent on the Whimple loop. The Axminster Loop is centred on Axminster station, and does not extend to Chard Junction as originally proposed. The line between Basingstoke, Salisbury and Exeter is not electrified.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Route Plan C Wessex" (PDF). Network Rail. March 2010. p. 29, figure 20. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Route Plan C Wessex" (PDF). Network Rail. March 2010. p. 9, figure 4. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Table 160: London to Salisbury and Exeter" (PDF). Electronic National Rail Timetable. Network Rail. May 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Timetable No. 20" (PDF). South West Trains.
  5. ^ "Route 4: Wessex Routes" (PDF). Route Plans. Network Rail. 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  • Network Rail Business Plan 2006: Route 3 – South West Main Line (PDF)
  • Network Rail Business Plan 2006: Route 4 – Wessex Routes (PDF)
  • Network Rail Business Plan 2006: Route 12 – Reading to Penzance (PDF)
  • Ordnance Survey [1]

Bibliography

Further reading

  • Johnston, Howard (22 April – 5 May 1998). "Unlocking the potential to Exeter". RAIL. No. 329. EMAP Apex Publications. pp. 20–24. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.
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