Avocet Line

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Avocet Line
Lympstone Commando - FGW 150233 down train.JPG
Alongside the River Exe near Lympstone
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Open
Locale Devon
Termini Exeter St Davids
50°43′44″N 3°32′37″W / 50.7290°N 3.5436°W / 50.7290; -3.5436 (Exeter St Davids station)
50°37′18″N 3°24′54″W / 50.6216°N 3.4150°W / 50.6216; -3.4150 (Exmouth station)
Stations 10
Opened 1862
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Great Western Railway
Character Commuter
Depot(s) Exeter
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 12 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.

There is a ferry service from Exmouth harbour to Starcross railway station on the opposite shore of the River Exe.


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.

Passenger volume[edit]

Avocet Line
Tarka Line
to Barnstaple
Bristol to Exeter Line
to Bristol Temple Meads
Cowley Bridge Junction
Red Cow LC
Exeter St Davids
0 mi 00 ch
0 km
Exeter St Davids Junction
Riviera Line
to Paignton
Exeter to Plymouth Line
to Plymouth
St Davids Tunnel (
184 yd
168 m
Exeter Central
0 mi 78 ch
1.57 km
St James Park
1 mi 25 ch
2.11 km
Blackboy Tunnel (
262 yd
240 m
Mount Pleasant Road Halt
Exmouth Junction
1 mi 89 ch
3.4 km
West of England Main Line
to Salisbury
Polsloe Bridge
2 mi 31 ch
3.84 km
Clyst St Mary and Digby Halt
Digby and Sowton
4 mi 14 ch
6.72 km
UK road A379.PNG
Topsham LC
6 mi 21 ch
10.08 km
River Clyst (
114 yd
104 m
7 mi 73 ch
12.73 km
Lympstone Commando
8 mi 18 ch
13.24 km
Lympstone Village
9 mi 24 ch
14.97 km
River Exe
Budleigh Salterton Railway
to Sidmouth Junction
11 mi 29 ch
18.29 km

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%.[1]


  1. ^ "Station Usage". Rail Statistics. Office of Rail Regulation. Archived from the original on 6 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 

Coordinates: 50°40′46″N 3°27′08″W / 50.6795°N 3.4521°W / 50.6795; -3.4521