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Train Simulator: Riviera Line in the Fifties: Exeter 💎

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Uploaded: 08.03.2020
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Train Simulator: Riviera Line in the Fifties: Exeter 💎 Train Simulator: Riviera Line in the Fifties: Exeter 💎 Train Simulator: Riviera Line in the Fifties: Exeter 💎 Train Simulator: Riviera Line in the Fifties: Exeter 💎

Train Simulator: Riviera Line in the Fifties: Exeter - Kingswear Route Add-On

Incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1835, the origins of the Great Western Railway lay with merchants from Bristol who felt threatened by the growing strength of Liverpool as a major trading port through its development of a railway connection to London. In order to maintain the importance of their own port, a railway to the west was most definitely needed!

Infamous for its use of the alternative ‘Broad Gauge’ 7ft infrastructure, the GWR was happy to wage war with other developing railway companies throughout the remainder of the 1900s, as lines extended across much of the country using mostly ‘Standard Gauge’ 4ft 8½in. Slowly though ‘Mixed Gauge’ began to eat its way south into GWR territory as the arrangements for transhipment from one mode to the other for onward travel became a major bugbear. Following further action from Parliament, the continuation of Broad Gauge was a lost cause. However, the required space for operating a Broad Gauge railway meant that on conversion to Standard Gauge, available land was extremely generous. Something which the GWR would not always learn to take advantage of as we shall see from one particular line on the south coast.

Construction of the line from Newton Abbot to Kingswear occurred in stages between 1852 and 1864 and, unlike other branch line additions, this one attracted higher than expected patronage from the very beginning. No later than the 1890s, the railway was the sole factor in establishing Torbay as one of the top holiday destinations of the era. By 1905 the line was doubled, although curiously only as far as Paignton, leaving the final six miles to Kingswear as single track. Given continued exceptional growth in traffic through to the 1930s, the GWR was forced to begin works to enlarge Paignton, though sadly this was interrupted by the onset of war, and ultimately the plans never became reality. Had any of the other ‘Big Four’ operated the route, no doubt Paignton would have developed into a major terminus, but continuing under the GWR the endless line of holiday trains had to be processed by a facility with no more than one platform for each direction. To suggest this was still just a ‘branch line’ was an understatement as it was not uncommon even on weekdays that more trains were bound for Torbay, than those to Plymouth or Penzance.

The line down from Exeter St David’s to Kingswear is defined by two constituent parts – the high speed coastal run, skirting the beaches and bays along the Dawlish Sea Wall; and the mountainous curvaceous crawl down to the seaside resorts. Operating the required trains and timetables therefore required crews of very broad experience and skills, especially given that to keep everything moving services frequently operated very early in the morning and usually late into the night. Add in the occasional channel storm and you have ingredients for some very weathered men and machines.

Both Exeter and Newton Abbot were well established locomotive depots by the peak of steam operation of the route in the 1950s, with full compliments of water, coal, turntables and extensive maintenance facilities, let alone vast stabling sidings for stock to cater for any and all requirements. Most engines would visit one of these locations during their time in the area, aside from those allocated to the depots permanently.

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