Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A Day on the Tamar Valley Line

Saturday saw a trip organised by Louis Rawlings on the Tamar Valley line, with the aim of covering every station to record and photograph the ‘Help Points’ before they get removed from the stations in the near future.

It was an early start to get them all in. I joined Louis at Devonport after he came off and 153 from Plymouth. So after a short stop at Devonport and one help point down we headed for Dockyard on foot.

We then located the Help Point, though it seemed that this one needed Help itself! With no luck at this one we photographed a HST passing and then got on another train to go down to Keyham. The train manager struggled to issue me a ticket in such a short journey though. And then on arrival at Keyham the Help Point there was also out of action! So it was a swift move onto the next stations at St Beaudeux travelling on FDC's service 3. This was aboard recently refurbished Volvo B6 W829 PFB which pulled well compared to many of the other B6s which have become fairly sluggish. 

Both of the Help Points were in action at Ferry Road and Victoria Road, so we soon pressed on to our next stop at Saltash aboard a Service 1. I can't really give any comment on the bus simply because its such a short trip! Saltash gave us the next tick in the box and it was then back onto the same bus for a run back into Plymouth. 

We then boarded the 10:46 to take us on our next leg. The train manager was the same as the previous journey so it was a "Right where this time..." to which we replied "Calstock please!" Remarkably I haven't done this part of the line for some 3/4 years now. In fact delving into the archives the last time I used the Tamar Valley line was a trip with Luke Farley in October 2006 after sampling the then new Mercedes Citaros in Plymouth. 

Calstock again is a village I have not been to in many years, but it is amazingly picturesque and on a gleaming day like Saturday was it really was an ideal place to be. But after only half an hour at our disposal it was soon back up to the station to meet the train once again to head back up to Plymouth. 

We then boarded the 12:55 to take us as far as Bere Ferres. I must admit Ferres is one of the best kept stations I've seen outside of the preservation world and its been kept superbly with many reminders of the past including old timetables. I must admit I did particularly like the display board showing all the places you used to be able to get, before the lines were cut back by Beeching. So after a quick look round and of course to see the Help Point it was a short walk into the village to catch FDC's service 87. Unfortunately this was not in the hands of the recently arrived Primo bus a more standard Dennis Dart. Though what was shocking was the fare! This was just 60p for my journey to Bere Alston - some 15 minutes. Where as a single to Millbrook from Cremyll on the bus would cost me £1.55 with FDC. 87 isn't exactly the most popular route so I did struggle to see why it was so cheap. All I could think of is that is must be heavily subsidised! 

It was quite tight between the bus at the train at Bere Alston so it was a quick snap of the Help Point and then onto the 14:06 yet again back up to Plymouth.  Though we got off a stop early on this leg to record some more sounds made by the help points. On many of the runs back up to Plymouth we either got off at Devonport or St Beaudeux so that this could be achieved and then caught a 1/81 back to Plymouth. 

It was then back down the line once again all the way to Gunnislake. And after a short stop there it was back on the train as far as St Beaudeux. Above/below/wherever it turns out to be when I press publish you will see a comparison in Gunnislake between the old Wessex Trains liveried 150 when I rode the line in 2006 along with the present day livery they now wear! Then a bus down to Saltash. And then a bus back up to Plymouth before signing off at approximately 16:50! 

Though the action didn't stop there! I nipped across the road for me 81C back down to Cawsand. The bus was running an understandable few minutes late at this point but the problem came when we reached Milehouse. Home Park was emptying from Saturday's defeat and swarms of people were crowding the roads and the bus stops. Indeed this delayed us enough to mean we missed out scheduled ferry we were supposed to get on, which then meant a wait before we could cross the Tamar. Our driver then thrashed K801 ORL really showing what these old Olympians could still do! It's in fact a shame that the batch now have electronic limiters fitted to them as even on the short run between Torpoint and Antony we were hitting it. We soon made up time and arrived only a few minutes late into Cawsand.

And if you were confused by that blog - think how I felt trying to follow that plan!   

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