Riviera Line

Riviera Line

Infobox generic
color = #efefef
name = Riviera Line|
img1 = Dawlish Shell Cove.jpg
cap1 = The Riviera Line near Dawlish|
lbl1 = Location
row1 = Devon, England
lbl2 = From
row2 = Exeter St Davids
lbl3 = To
row3 = Paignton
lbl4 = Distance
row4 = convert|28.25|mi|km|0
lbl6 = Owner
row6 = Network Rail
lbl7 = Principal operator
row7 = First Great Western
lbl8 = Other operators
row8 = CrossCountry
South West Trains
lbl9 = Freight operators
row9 = EWS, Freightliner UK|
hdr2 = Connecting routes|
lbl21 = At Exeter St Davids
row21 = Avocet Line
London to Penzance Line
Tarka Line
West of England Main Line
lbl22 = At Aller Junction
row22 = London to Penzance Line
lbl23 = At Paignton
row23 = Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Ry|
hdr3 = Infrastructure|
lbl31 = Line speed
row31 = convert|60|mph|km/h|abbr=on main line
convert|40|mph|km/h|abbr=on Paignton branch
lbl32 = Number of tracks
row32 = 2
lbl33 = Route Availability
row33 = 8, 6
lbl34 = Freight gauge
row34 = W7, W6A
lbl35 = Key features
row35 = South Devon Railway sea wall|
hdr4 = History|
lbl41 = Opened
row41 = 1846 - 1859
lbl42 = Built by
row42 = South Devon Railway
Dartmouth and Torbay Railway
lbl43 = Subsequent owner
row43 = Great Western Railway
British Railways

The Riviera Line is a local railway line that connects the city of Exeter to the "English Riviera" resorts of Torbay in Devon, England. It is closely linked with the London to Penzance Line with which it shares the route along the South Devon sea wall. It is part of the Network Rail Route 12 (Reading to Penzance).cite web| title =Network Rail Business Plan 2007: Route 12| url =http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/BusinessPlan2007/PDF/Route%2012%20Reading%20to%20Penzance.pdf| format =PDF]


The line from Exeter to Teignmouth was opened by the South Devon Railway on 30 May 1846 and was extended to Newton Abbot on 30 December 1846. After the company had completed its main line to Plymouth it opened a branch from Newton Abbot to Torquay (the present Torre railway station on 18 December 1848. Nine years later this was extended as the independent Dartmouth and Torbay Railway to Paignton on 2 August 1859. [cite book| last = Gregory| first = R H| title = The South Devon Railway| publisher = Oakwood Press| date = 1982| location = Salisbury| id = ISBN 0-853612-86-2]

These lines were built as single-track, RailGauge|84 broad gauge railways by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. They were designed for atmospheric power and although this was only used from 13 September 1847 until 9 September 1848;cite book| last = Kay| first = Peter | title = Exeter - Newton Abbot: A Railway History| publisher = Platform 5 Publishing| date = 1991| location = Sheffield| id = ISBN 1-872524-42-7 ] the remains of several of the engine houses used for the stationary engines can still be seen by the side of the line. The track was converted to standard gauge on May 21 1892. Double track was laid in sections over a period of several years, requiring the widening or removal of several tunnels near Teignmouth.

The Dartmouth and Torquay Railway was operated from the outset by the South Devon Railway and amalgamated with it in 1872. This company in turn amalgamated with the Great Western Railway on 1 February 1876 which lasted until 31 December 1947 after which it was nationalised as part of British Railways.


Local passenger services on the line are currently operated by First Great Western. Most days see an approximately hourly service calling at all stations, which runs beyond Exeter to and from Exmouth along the Avocet Line. On Sundays a more restricted service operates, most of which terminate at Exeter.cite web| title = National Rail Timetable 135 (Winter 2007)|url = http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/timetables/timetables/Table135.pdf|format=PDF]

Other services on the line include First Great Western express services from London Paddington, South West Trains from London Waterloo, [cite web| title = National Rail Timetable 160 (Winter 2007)|url = http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/timetables/timetables/Table160.pdf|format=PDF] and CrossCountry services from the Midlands and the North. [cite web| title = National Rail Timetable 51 (Winter 2007)|url = http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/timetables/timetables/Table51.pdf |format=PDF] These mostly call only at Exeter St Davids, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Torquay, and Paignton. Other long-distance services of the same operators call at Exeter, Dawlish, Teignmouth and Newton Abbot before continuing to Plymouth or even Penzance.


Trains going towards Paignton are described as travelling in the "down" direction; those towards Exeter in the "up". The line is double track throughout except for a long single-lead junction at Newton Abbot where trains are turned off the main line onto the Paignton branch. Loops at Dawlish Warren allow slow trains to be overtaken, as does the flexible layout at Newton Abbot where all three platforms can access the Paignton branch. At Exeter St Davids, Riviera Line trains generally use platforms 3 and 4 as these allow access to and from Exeter Central and the Avocet line; starting or terminating trains may also use platforms 5 and 6. At Paignton down trains may arrive in the up platform; if they arrive in the down platform they must shunt across to the up before departure, generally via the sidings at Goodrington.

Between Exeter and Newton Abbot the predominant speed limit is 60 mph, the route availability is RA8, and freight loading gauge is W7. On the Paignton branch the predominant speed limit is 40 mph, the route availability RA6, and the freight loading gauge W6A. Multiple aspect signals are controlled from the panel signal box at Exeter and allow a headway between trains of four minutes from there to Newton Abbot and seven minutes onwards to Paignton. The sea wall section is signalled for trains to run either way on the up (landward) line to allow for restricted working in the event of sea damage to the down line. [cite book| last = Oakley| first = Mike| title = Devon Railway Stations| publisher = The Dovecote Press| date = 2007| location = Wimbourne| id = ISBN 1-904349-55-6]

The Paignton branch has been identified as a "fragile route" "where the addition of any further loco hauled traffic would have a significant impact on the residual life of track and/or structures." The three stations on the branch are currently under consideration for the provision of improved facilities but this is dependent on third-party funding being made available.

Route description

The route is described from Exeter to Paignton for a passenger facing the direction of travel, which will put the sea on their left.

Exeter to Newton Abbot

"Communities served: Exeter – Starcross (and Exmouth via a seasonal ferry service) – Dawlish Warren – Dawlish – Teignmouth – Newton Abbot"

On leaving Exeter St Davids, the line crosses the River Exe and a parallel flood relief channel, then passes above the suburbs of Exeter along a stone viaduct on which is situated Exeter St Thomas railway station. The church of St David with its spire, and the older Exeter Cathedral, can be seen on the hill above the river. Beyond this is an industrial area where two lines used to branch out. On the left a short line went down to the Exeter Canal at City Basin; on the right a longer branch ran to Heathfield on the Newton Abbot to Moretonhampstead branch. [cite book| last = MacDermot| first = E T| title = History of the Great Western Railway, volume II 1863-1921| publisher = Great Western Railway| date = 1931| location = London]

Once out in the countryside our line crosses marshes as it runs alongside the canal and river. What looks like a level crossing in the fields near Countess Wear is actually a lifting bridge across the canal. After passing the site of Exminster railway station the canal comes more clearly into view on the left and joins the River Exe, as does the railway, at Turf. The square pond next to the line is the site of Turf engine house. This stretch of the line used to have long water troughs between the rails from which steam locomotives could refill their water tanks without stopping.From Powderham Castle the railway is right alongside the river; on the right of the line is the castle's deer park, while on the left, across the river, trains on the Avocet Line may be seen near Lympstone Commando railway station. Our train now enters the village of Starcross; beyond Starcross railway station is the pier for the Exmouth to Starcross Ferry and the old Starcross engine house.

A little further along the river the railway crosses the mouth of Cockwood harbour. Near the shipwreck here was the convert|1285|ft|m long Exe Bight Pier, in use from 1869 for about ten years. Dawlish Warren now comes into sight; the sand dunes are home to a nature reserve where many wading and sea birds can be seen. The railway line opens out into four lines at Dawlish Warren railway station, where the platforms are alongside loop lines that allow fast trains to overtake stopping services.

On the left is the beach and seaside amusements; on the right are some camping coaches in the old goods yard. The railway now comes onto the Sea Wall which it shares with a footpath, although it quickly enters the short and deep cutting at Langstone Rock. Emerging above the beach, views can be had across the sea towards Torbay.

Approaching Dawlish railway station, Coastguard's Cottage is on the right. Although now a cafe, this building was used by the railway during its construction and then sold to the coastguard. Their boat house is below the footbridge. The town can be seen off to the right from Colonnade Viaduct at the other end of the station.

The line now enters its first tunnel, the convert|265|yd|m Kennaway Tunnel [cite book| last = Cooke| first = RA| title = Track Layout Diagrams of the GWR and BR WR, Section 14: South Devon| publisher = RA Cooke| date = 1984| location = Harwell] beneath Lea Mount, beyond which is Coryton beach where the footpath along the Sea Wall ends, and then convert|227|yd|m Coryton tunnel. The next beach is the private Shell Cove and then the railway passes through convert|49|yd|m Phillot Tunnel and convert|58|yd|m Clerk's Tunnel, emerging onto a section of sea wall at Breeches Rock before diving into convert|513|yd|m Parson's Tunnel beneath Hole Head. The last two tunnels are named after the Parson and Clerk Rocks, two stacks in the sea off Hole Head. When the tunnel was dug the workers cut into a smugglers tunnel which ran from a hidden entrance above the cliff down to a secluded cove.

Beyond Parson's Tunnel is a short viaduct across Smugglers Lane and then the footpath resumes alongside the line for the final stretch of the Sea Wall past Sprey Point to the cutting at Teignmouth Eastcliff. On the right side of the railway near Sprey Point can be seen the remains of a lime kiln used during the construction of the line.

The railway passes through to Teignmouth railway station then continues through a cutting to emerge behind the busy Teignmouth Harbour, after which the railway resumes its course alongside the water, the River Teign. The cuttings on both sides of the station were originally tunnels and were opened out between 1879 and 1884. The railway passes under the Shaldon Bridge and then follows the river past the small promontories at Flow Point, Red Rock, and Summer House, opposite which can be seen the waterside inn at Coombe Cellars.

After leaving the riverside the line crosses Hackney Marshes and passes between the railway sidings at Hackney Yard (left), and the race course and former Moretonhampstead branch (right). The industrial area to the left of Newton Abbot railway station is the site of the South Devon Railway locomotive workshops – the older stone buildings are the only surviving railway buildings.

Newton Abbot to Paignton

"Communities served: Newton Abbot – Torre – Torquay – Paignton"

Leaving Newton Abbot the railway widens out to four tracks; the two for Penzance diverge to the right at Aller Junction while the Riviera Line trains climb and then slowly descend towards the sea at Torquay. First though, they pass through the remains of the former Kingskerswell railway station.cite book| last = Potts| first = C R| title = The Newton Abbot to Kingswear Railway (1844 - 1988)| publisher = Oakwood Press| date = 1998| location = Oxford| id = ISBN 0-853613-87-7]

Just before Torre railway station the line curves through a cutting; the Torquay engine house still stands on the top of the cutting on the right. The stone building on the left is the old goods shed, while sidings for coal traffic were situated on the opposite side of the line. The disused signal box on the eastbound platform was unusually tall to allow the signalman to look over the footbridge to see trains approaching up the steep gradient.

Our train now drops down this to reach Torquay railway station opened in 1859, although today's large stone buildings and old signal box date from 1878. Unlike the original Torquay station (now Torre), this one is right by the beach at Abbey Sands and a level promenade links it with the harbour and town centre.

On leaving the station the line passes beneath an ornamental cast iron bridge, through a small cutting, and then climbs alongside Livermead Beach to the site of Torquay Gas Works, now a park on the right of the line. It then passes a headland at Preston before dropping down again into Paignton, with more views of the beaches and sea. Immediately outside Paignton railway station is a busy level crossing right in the town centre. The ticket office is now situated in the 1859 goods shed; the bus station is right outside the front door while the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway is situated alongside on the other side of the station.

The railway line continues beyond the station to reach carriage sidings at Goodrington Sands and to provide a connection that allows special trains to run through to Kingswear over the heritage railway.

Passenger volume

Apart from Exeter and Newton Abbot, the busiest station on the line is Paignton, however traffic growth in recent years has been mainly on the main line section at Dawlish and Teignmouth. [cite web|title =Station Usage|work =Rail Statistics|publisher =Office of Rail Regulation| url=http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1529|accessdate = 2008-06-30] The statistics are for passengers arriving and departing from each station and cover twelve month periods that start in April.

outh West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path is the longest national trail in the United Kingdom [ [http://www.southwestcoastpath.com/ South West Coast Path website] ] and the Riviera Line runs alongside it for much of its length. The Path crosses the River Exe on the ferry to Starcross station and then follows the road to Dawlish Warren where it joins the Sea Wall to Dawlish. It then climbs up onto the cliffs above Kennaway Tunnel before rejoining the Sea Wall at Parsons Tunnel to follow the line to Eastcliffe at Teignmouth.

It again follows closely from Abbey Sands (by Torquay station) to Preston Sands at Paignton. It also follows alongside the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway from Goodrington to Broadsands, the beach near Churston railway station.

The Path thus gives opportunities to observe trains at close hand, and also provides links for linear walks between stations, including Kingswear.


Further reading

*cite book| last = Beck| first = Keith| coauthor = Copsey, John| title = The Great Western in South Devon| publisher = Wild Swan Publication| date = 1990| location = Didcot| id = ISBN 0-906867-90-8
*cite book| last = Great Western Railway| title = Through the Window. Number 1 – Paddington to Penzance| publisher = Great Western Railway| date = 1924| location = London
*cite web| last =Hesp| first =Martin| title =My magnificent rail journey| work =Western Morning News| publisher =Western Morning News|url=http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/news/magnificent-rail-journey/article-209062-detail/article.html| date =2008| accessdate = 2008-07-14
*cite book| last = St John Thomas| first = David| title = West Country Railway History| publisher = David and Charles| date = 1973| location = Newton Abbot| id = ISBN 0-715363-63-8

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Riviera Trains — Limited is a railway spot hire company, based at Crewe in Cheshire. It owns a large fleet of Class 47 locomotives, which have been hired to both passenger and charter train operators. One of their main customers was Arriva Trains Wales, which… …   Wikipedia

  • Riviera Beach, Florida — Infobox Settlement official name = Riviera Beach, Florida settlement type = City nickname = motto = A Harbor City imagesize = image caption = image imagesize = image caption = image mapsize = 250x200px map caption = Location of Riviera Beach in… …   Wikipedia

  • Riviera (company) — Infobox Company company name = Riviera company company type = Private foundation = 1980 location = flagicon|AUS Gold Coast, Australia key people = num employees = 1,200 industry = Pleasure craft products = Flybridge Convertibles, Sport Cruisers,… …   Wikipedia

  • Riviera Beach, Maryland — Infobox Settlement official name = Riviera Beach, Maryland settlement type = CDP nickname = motto = imagesize = image caption = image imagesize = image caption = image mapsize = 250x200px map caption = Location of Riviera Beach, Maryland mapsize1 …   Wikipedia

  • Riviera LRT Station — Infobox Station name=Riviera LRT Station 里维拉轻轨列车站 றிவியாரா type=Light rail image size=300 image caption= address=40 Punggol East Singapore 828852 coordinates= coord|1.233998|103.550038 line=Punggol other=Bus, Taxi structure=Elevated… …   Wikipedia

  • Reading to Plymouth Line — The Reading Plymouth line is the central part of the trunk railway line between London Paddington and Penzance railway stations in the southern United Kingdom. It is a major branch of the Great Western Main Line and diverges at Reading, running… …   Wikipedia

  • Cotswold Line — Overview Type Rural, Heavy rail System National Rail …   Wikipedia

  • Atlantic Coast Line, Cornwall — This article is about the Atlantic Coast Line in Cornwall, UK. For the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, USA, see Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Atlantic Coast Line The line at St Blazey Bridge alongside the remains of the Par Canal Overvie …   Wikipedia

  • Maritime Line — 280px This mosaic at Falmouth Docks depicts the links between the railway and the area s maritime heritage Overview Type Heavy rail System National Rail …   Wikipedia

  • Cornish Main Line — The Royal Albert Bridge Overview Type Heavy rail System National …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.