Line to the future
WITHIN five years, one million passengers will use Exmouth train station annually – and investment by rail bosses, says a rail user group, could hold the key to the town s revival as a resort.
WITHIN five years, one million passengers will use Exmouth train station annually - and investment by rail bosses, says a rail user group, could hold the key to the town's revival as a resort.
Committee Member of the Avocet Rail Users Group, Richard Giles, is calling for a 'concentrated effort' to improve the 'flagship station' on Devon's busiest commuter line.
Mr Giles, editor of the group's magazine, says that usage of this branch line - Devon's busiest - is increasing by ten per cent a year and, on current forecasts, could top a million by 2014.
And with the A376 approaching gridlock at peak times, more and more passengers are realising that the line is the 'quickest and most convenient way' of travelling to Exeter.
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The 35-year-old station was originally designed as a 'quiet' branch terminus; but Mr Giles says that with regeneration plans afoot nobody has considered how extra passengers will reach the stations, where they will park their cars, where they will wait for a train or get their tickets.
"A major concern is for those who already use our line and the 250,000 extra new passengers likely, on past evidence, to be using Exmouth station in the next five years as the A376 approaches gridlock," he says.
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The group has already successfully lobbied to get the subject of a second platform and a doubling of services at Exmouth discussed at the recent County Council-backed Devon and Exeter Rail Project Working Party.
But the project might not come to fruition for a further 20 years - and Clinton Devon Estates only recently began talking of doubling the size of Liverton Business Park.
This could free-up key sites on The Gut for tourists and in the town centre, which opens the door to a district council development brief which was rubber-stamped last week - they are looking at developing the London Inn car park and nearby gasworks.
While all this could bring in more visitors to the town, it would put the station under increasing strain, and he said: "We all share the hope that Exmouth will enjoy a revival as a holiday resort. But what first impressions of their destination do those who arrive by train gain as they walk off the station?
"Is the station welcoming? Are the taxis readily visible and accessible? Are there any signs pointing to the town centre or the beach? Does the station present an image of Exmouth of which we can all be proud?
"...perhaps the time has come when a concentrated effort is brought to bear on the flagship station on Devon's busiest commuter railway.