‘Old’ trains cause delays

PUBLISHED: 13:14 16 March 2015

Archant

Old 1980’s diesel trains breaking down is the cause of 40 per cent of delays on the Exmouth to Exeter Railine.

With more than one million journeys every year, the Avocet Line is the busiest branch railway in the region.

New figures, published in the Avocet Line Rail Users’ Group (ALRUG) latest newsletter, list 159 ‘service disruptions’ – train cancellations or delays – between April and December 2014.

And 64 of these were blamed on the line’s fleet of old diesel trains (DMUs).

In total, 34 disruptions were caused by track or signalling problems, and nine caused by HGVs hitting railway bridges.

And there were six delays attributed to trains hitting people.

Other causes include ‘passenger’ issues, staffing problems and animals on the line.

Just one per cent of the delays were caused by the weather.

Many of the problems – old rolling stock, points and signals – are linked to the lack of investment in the line’s infrastructure.

Whitehall transport bosses and First Great Western are currently negotiating a short-term franchise to run the service.

Chairman of ALRUG Tony Day said: “It would be wrong to blame First Great Western. The broken franchising system is denying them the incentive to put their hands in their shareholders’ pockets.

“They are managing the franchise competently, but any small improvements we see tend to be funded by others.”

He added: “The current, short franchise has yielded no investment in the Avocet Line – not even an additional ticket machine, sorely needed at a couple of our intermediate stations.

“The further short franchise, despite the current months of uncertainty, is likely to prove just another distraction from the need to provide a reliable railway with adequate capacity – and then to develop it to meet expanding local needs.

“There is talk of ‘jam tomorrow’.

“Our old and unsatisfactory rolling stock might one year soon be replaced by better trains.

“With a general election about to intervene, who knows if or when the complex chain of events on which we depend for these crumbs will unfold?”


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