Southern Railway northern route
The GWR route reached Plymouth in 1848 and over 40 years later the Southern made it in 1890! As so often happens in railway history, it was "last in first out" with through trains over the moors ending in 1968. Passenger trains from Exeter to Okehampton lasted until 1972 but re-appeared in 1997 as a Sunday-only summer "tourist" service.
The quarry was considerably developed in 1897 to provide the majority of the track ballast requirements of the LSWR, which at the time amounted to about 100,000 tons per annum. The geology is such that the ballast is harder, and therefore more long-lasting, than stone available in the more easterly parts of the system. It was further extended in 1902, eventually reaching 200 acres. Further developed over the years, by 1953 it was producing 340,000 tons annually. An internal tramway of short and movable 2-feet gauge tramways was provided.
The length of line between Plymouth and Bere Alston is still open for passengers as part of a service to Gunnislake.
The viaduct across part of the town is in good order ...
There will be objections to turning this paltry little extension into a main line. There will be protests from Tavistock residents who won't want trains past their back gardens, patios and conservatories and, most horrific of all, there will be mass demonstrations about intrusion into the National Park No doubt colonies of rare purple spotted glurks will be discovered nesting in a farm-access overbridge near Lydford.
Let's put it this way: IF the line were to be reconstructed it will create almost as big a furore as HS2. You have been warned!
fbb's guess is that, after the creation of a small moumtain of Men-from-the-Ministry bumf and lengthy consequent debate, it will be decided that on-going improvements for the exiting route will be the most cost-effective solution. Even if a diversion IS built, the existing line will need to be maintained as it is, de facto, the flood defence for the town of Dawlish!
And we wouldn't want to lose than magnificent view, would we?