‘No’ to station beside The Exe

I’m astonished to learn of the return of plans to create an Exmouth North railway station. While supportive of any effort to encourage people to desert their cars and use the railway, I think creating another station, � la Tiverton Parkway, on protected land beside picturesque Exe Estuary is not the solution.

Efforts instead should be focused on improving the current service provided by First Great Western to encourage more people to use the railway instead of the beleaguered A376:

First of all, finally getting rid of the Class 142 pacers would greatly improve passenger comfort. Secondly, reduce peak fares to Exeter, so that they are competitive with the cost of making the journey in a car. Thirdly, increase the number of carriages on the early-morning services from Exmouth as well as the rush-hour services from Exeter – no more four-carriage trains at midday and packed two-carriage services departing Central shortly after the shops close.

Fourthly, ensure the ticket-office is manned at all times, not just before a train departs. Only last week I was queuing at the ticket office behind a couple booking advanced tickets and with the train about to leave and the ticket machine ‘out of order’ I was instructed to board the train by the conductor who then tried to charge me a penalty fare. Cutting costs, FGW will inevitably install a machine and leave any new station unstaffed, not even creating employment.

But then let us remember that the land in question is “quite far from where people live”, and was bequeathed to the National Trust to protect it from ‘urban development’ – now I’m pretty sure a big car park falls under that category. Your report says the idea was first mooted in 1980: thirty years on and nothing has happened – coincidence? Belting through the green fields alongside the Exe is a fantastic entrance for new (and old) visitors to our lovely town. Let us not now ruin that.

Nevertheless, it is nice to hear people championing the railway – especially since the only thing that saved the Exmouth-Exeter branch line from Beeching’s Axe in 1963 was the poor state of the A376.

Andrew Burgess

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