TEIGN VALLEY RAILWAY
THE LINE NOW AND THEN
Company was given Royal Assent in 1863 and opened on 9 October 1882, branching from the Moretonhampstead and South Devon Railway's station at Heathfield, to Christow. In 1903 the line was extended to Exeter. It served mineral quarries in the valley and had a passenger service. For a brief time there was an engine shed at Ashton.
The mineral traffic that had provided much of the line's revenues was also its downfall, as the quarries provided roadstone for Devon's expanding and improving road network. In the 1920s and 1930s, the new motor bus services meant that passenger traffic dwindled. The mineral traffic soon followed. Meanwhile, the Great Western Railway placed camp coaches in some of the stations providing holiday accommodation. A small station was opened at Chudleigh Knighton Halt on 9 June 1924.
The line saw a resurgence of traffic during the restrictions and petrol rationing after the Second World War however passenger trains were withdrawn in June 1958. This was five years before the publication of The Reshaping of British Railways which led to the closure of many similar routes. Flooding caused the line to be closed entirely between Christow and Exeter in 1961, following which the gradual withdrawal of freight saw the line finally close in 1967.
The line followed a sinuous course from Heathfield to Exeter, which was the Up direction. From Ashton the line climbs considerably to Longdown, with a long stretch at 1 in 64. From Longdown the line falls at 1 in 58 for several miles.
There were two tunnels at Longdown; Culver Tunnel (248 yards, 227 m) to the west and Perridge Tunnel (836 yards, 764 m) to the east of Longdown. One now a mushroom farm the other partially colapsed.
At first the Teign Valley line ran to a bay platform only, with a shunting move the only means of connecting to the other route. This was altered to a running junction on 2 October 1916. It was made a full double junction from May 1943; the intention was to make the line a diversionary route if the Dawlish route should become blocked by enemy action.
Chudleigh Knighton Halt. Opened 9 June 1924.
Trusham. There was a short passing loop, and this was much extended in 1943 in connection with the diversionary arrangement referred to above. There was a considerable quarry here, and also at Whetcombe, a short distance towards Exeter.
Ashton. Originally the northern terminus of the line until 1903.
Dunsford Halt. Opened 16 January 1928. It was almost two miles (three km) from the village.
Longdown. Reduced to Longdown Halt on 1 October 1923.
Ide . Opened 1 July 1903, degraded to a Halt in 1923,
Alphington Halt. Opened 2 April 1928.
City Basin Junction was the junction with the Dawlish main line to Exeter.
The A38 road covers some of the route near to Chudleigh, the intersection on the A38 at this point is named "Chudleigh Station". A short section of the line in Exeter, known as the "Alphington Spur" remains a siding for weekly scrap metal freight trains. In December 2012 there has been an outline planning proposal by the council to open a new station on the main line close to this section of the old line to serve Exeter's Marsh Barton Trading Estate. At Christow Station there is a reconstruction project. Many of the stations and some of the line's infrastructure still persist. Alphington Halt was completely demolished, but it is still possible to see the remains of the bridges over Church road and Ide lane, and the long curving embankment which now runs beside the Alphington spur connection to the A30. The same fate awaited Ide Halt, with St. Ida's Close now built over the station site. Longdown station however survives in remarkably good condition. Perridge Tunnel is blocked, but the shorter Culver Tunnel is open. Dunsford halt was demolished, but the stations at Christow, Ashton and Trusham station are all still extant having been converted to dwellings. The stations at Chudleigh, Chudleigh Knighton Halt and Heathfield did not survive.
Revival of the Teign Valley Line could be an option that might be considered in the wake of widespread disruption caused by damage to the mainline track at Dawlish by coastal storms in February 2014. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin ordered a review of alternative inland rail routes.
Originally named Chudleigh Road the station opened on 26 June 1866 on the Moretonhampstead and South Devon Railway, nearly 4 miles from Newton Abbot and before the Teign Valley Line opened. Being renamed on 1 October 1882.
The large pottery of Candy and Company was situated alongside the station and was served by its own siding from the outset, now British Ceramic Tiles, the siding closed many years ago. The station became a junction when the Teign Valley Railway opened to Ashton, in 1874. Until 23 May 1892 all traffic between the two lines had to be transferred at Heathfield as the Moretonhampstead line was built to the broad gauge, but the Teign Valley was in standard gauge.
The original station only had one platform serving the Moretonhampstead branch. In 1927 this platform was extended and a new passing loop and platform was provided for down trains came into use on 24 May 1927. Both platforms were signalled for reversible running until 1943 when the crossover was removed.
The last regular passenger trains ran on 28 February 1959. Since 6 July 1970 Heathfield has been the terminus of the branch line, the few trains running this far serving an oil terminal that opened in 1965. Today the track is lifted beyond the passing loop, some 400 metres shy of the terminal. However the trackbed remains until close to the northern edge of the local industrial estate, and is in Network Rail's ownership, so could be relayed.
Following the damage in 2014 to the sea wall at Dawlish one of the suggested alternative routes was via the re-statement of the Heathfield to Alphington rail link.