||It has been suggested that Exmouth branch railway be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since March 2015.|
|Termini||Exeter St Davids
|Operator(s)||Great Western Railway|
|Rolling stock||Classes 143, 150 and 153|
|Line length||11.25 miles (18 km)|
|Number of tracks||1 or 2|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Loading gauge||RA6 / W6A|
|Operating speed||70 mph (110 km/h)|
The Avocet Line is the railway line in England connecting Exeter with Exmouth. It was originally built by the London and South Western Railway, and was historically known as the Exmouth branch railway. The line follows the Exe Estuary for most of its route, giving views of the estuary. The line is named after the pied avocet, which lives in the estuary.
The towns and cities served are:
The route follows the West of England Main Line in the suburbs of Exeter before diverging to the south.
For many years the passenger services on the line have been provided by Wessex Trains, and since 2006 by Great Western Railway, using Class 150 or Class 153 diesel multiple units (DMUs) either singly or in multiple. However, from December 2007 First Great Western introduced Class 142 'Pacers' and more recently, Class 143 'Pacers' to release other DMUs for refurbishment. Since December 2011, the Class 142 units have returned to Northern Rail.
The section in Exeter is shared with South West Trains West of England services to London Waterloo as far as Exmouth Junction (between St James Park and Polsloe Bridge). The daytime frequency is a train every 30 mins, although trains only stop once an hour at Polsloe Bridge, St James Park, Exton and Lympstone Commando. The latter two stations are request stops.
The line is double track from Exeter Central to Exmouth Junction, but is single thereafter except for a passing loop at Topsham, where many trains are scheduled to cross each other. All movements on the line are under the control of the signal box at Exmouth Junction, which remotely operates the level crossing at Topsham as well as the loop there.
The busiest station on the branch is Exmouth, which is the fifth busiest in Devon. The numbers of passengers using the line each year have shown an increase in particular Digby & Sowton and St James Park. Comparing all stations on the year beginning April 2002 to the Year beginning April 2010 there are a variety of trends. The biggest increases have been at Digby & Sowton by 157% and St James Park with 105%. The increases in descending order from there are Topsham by 89%, Polsloe Bridge by 82%, Exton by 60%, Lympstone Village by 31% and the smallest with Exmouth by 6%. Meanwhile, Lympstone Commando has declined by 33%.
|St James Park||27,233||27,477||27,428||31,716||36,354||43,348||46,754||55,910|
|Digby & Sowton||120,505||134,804||155,822||201,954||247,452||275,978||271,316||310,216|
|The annual passenger usage is based on sales of tickets in stated financial years from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. The statistics are for passengers arriving and departing from each station and cover twelve month periods that start in April. Please note that methodology may vary year on year.|
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