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Reversing Beeching: Should Sidmouth have the railway line restored?

  • by JW

“If there is any way we could reopen the train line to Sidmouth we should”


Last year, the Department for Transport announced a £500 million fund to ‘restore’ lines lost by the Beeching cuts of the 1960s:

Restoring Your Railway Fund – GOV.UK


18 railway lines axed by Beeching could be reopened in West of England – Business Live

And “the weekend of 2nd and 3rd October 2021 will see a programme of local events to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of Okehampton station back in 1871”:

The Dartmoor Line – Reopening 2021

Dartmoor rail service reopens this year in reversal of Beeching cuts | News | The Times


The VGS has just been contacted by a correspondent:

Just wondered if you have ever done anything to look into rail links in East Devon? I know it’s a massive conundrum to solve but I just thought someone ought to be thinking about it…”


A couple of years ago, there was a petition to reopen the line:

Petition to restore Sidmouth’s railway link – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And there was a bit of a campaign too:

Futures Forum: Campaign to reopen Sidmouth railway

However, not much came of that.


Moreover, this old branch line has been assigned as a cycle path – and is supported by the Sid Valley’s County Councillor, who is also in charge of transport – as reiterated back in March of this year:

Two schemes dear to my heart are the Sidford to Sidbury phase of the Sid Valley Trail which I secured funding for to carry out a re-design/modified route and which is almost ready to be revealed.

The second scheme is the Sidmouth to Feniton (Otter Valley Trail) which is included in the cycling strategy and which both myself through my county locality budget and SUSTRANS put funds towards in 2017 to carry out a feasibility study and preferred route across the A3052 via a new bridge. However, while the trail has seen several sections completed at both Sidmouth along Long Park across the A375 Sidford Road via a toucan crossing and joining up to the Byes section of the Sid Valley Trail, and between Ottery St Mary and Feniton where work has already been carried out on sections of the disused railway line, further funding is required and is certainly within our grasp.

Mulit-use trail plans helps steer cycling strategy | Midweek Herald

With more here:

Otter Trail | Otter Shared Use Path

Fenton to Sidmouth (Otter Valley) Trail feasability Study


Interestingly, last year, the East Devon MP was calling for the line to be reopened:

East Devon MP Simon Jupp ahead of the General Election said that ‘if there is any way we could reopen the train line to Sidmouth we should’, although the site, on the outskirts of the town, has been completely redeveloped with a builders merchant built on the goods yard and an industrial estate on the passenger line and a housing development built on the trackbed to the north of the station.

Reopening the Sidmouth railway – Vision Group for Sidmouth


As the piece above says, the main problem for trains or bikes is that the land leading to the former railway yard (now Bradfords) is taken up by a new housing estate at Bulverton .

Nevertheless, it might be possible to fund a feasibility study.

As another commentator has said:

“After all, if we really want to get carbon emissions and traffic volumes down, then this would be ideal. There might not be much national political will for such projects, but if there was enough interest locally, then why not try and get some funding to look into this?”

And there are plenty of examples of such going on now:

Somerset: Plans for new railway station on Levels – BBC News

Fleetwood railway line – Reopening feasibility study – Lancashire County Council

Application submitted for feasibility study into reopening section of the Firsby to Louth railway line

Here’s “A complete guide to the process of re-opening a disused railway”:

Rail Re-opening Toolkit