By Robin Jones
IN 1970, I took my first ride from Buckfastleigh to Totnes on the then recently-opened Dart Valley Railway. When the train reached Ashburton Junction, the main line connection, the train paused and then reversed in push-pull manner, as there was neither access to Totnes station, or a station at the end of the fledgling heritage line.
I caught a glimpse of a mighty Class 52 Western diesel hydraulic, still in maroon livery, whizzing past the junction, as if to emphasise the raw power of the modern age compared with the tiny GWR tank engine hauling the train. He who laughs last laughs longest – seven years later at the most, that Western would have either joined the UK heritage fleet or have been scrapped.
British Rail did allow Dart Valley trains into Totnes between 1985-88, but the cost proved exorbitant. The obvious solution was to build a new station at the eastern end of the heritage line, but it would be a terminus in the middle of nowhere, with no access to the town from north of the River Dart.
Read more in Issue 220 of Heritage Railway