Digby & Sowton Station Travel Plan

Context

Digby & Sowton is a single platform station (opened May 1994) on the Exeter to Exmouth line (Avocet Line), served by a half-hourly service in the daytime (operated by First Great Western). The Exmouth line now has over one million passenger journeys per annum. Last year this was 1.1m. Digby & Sowton is the third busiest station on the line with over 250,000 passenger journeys in 2008.

There are significant new housing developments nearby, and links to the local rugby ground and Hospital Park and Ride service. It is also served by local bus services which both operate half hourly. The station is located on a footpath and cycle link between the residential area of Digby and Sowton Industrial Estate using the rail line over bridge from the station forecourt and passing the entrance to the station platform.

Need for a Travel Plan

  • Pedestrian links: Links to the station from the residential and industrial areas are generally in good condition but there have been comments from local residents about the condition of certain sections and a missing 'link' adjacent to the Park and Ride site. Around 80% of the passengers walk to/ from the station so footpaths are an important issue, while promoting links with the Park and Ride facility is an important objective.
  • Cycling is an important issue, since Exeter has been designated as one of the six pilot 'Cycle Demonstration Towns' and there is the opportunity to link into the wider cycle network in the city. Bus links will play an important part in the plan, in particular promoting bus/rail transfer for the bus links to the City Centre and University. Car parking spaces are limited, with a total of 20, and with the Carbon Footprint agenda at the forefront of the County Council's policies there is a wish to see numbers using this access mode do not significantly increase.
  • Security: The station is in a cutting and not directly overlooked by any properties. There has been a history of vandalism but this has been reduced through the efforts of the police, TOC and County Council.
  • Station building and surrounds: The station building is scheduled for improvement, which wll include increasing the size of the passenger shelter, providing additional advertising/ promotion of rail travel and signing to/from and at the station for passengers. A landscaping scheme has been developed and there are plans to undertake painting and general tidiness.

Description of the process

The plan has been developed through a variety of sources:

  • The Local Transport Plan Policies
  • Exeter City Council Planning
  • Digby (Kings Heath) residents
  • Sowton Industrial Estate
  • Exeter Chiefs Rugby Club
  • Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital
  • First Great Western
  • The Avocet Line Rail Users Group
  • The Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership

Action Plan highlights

  • Campaign to raise awareness of the station and its potential to new and existing passengers
  • Fully accessible station and links to the station from key origins/ destinations
  • Investment in cycling facilities
  • Secure Station Status with TOC and British Transport Police
  • New dedicated footpath link to Exeter Chiefs Rugby Ground

Key lessons learned

  • Involvement of internal and external stakeholders
  • Importance of political support at local authority level
  • Identifying deliverables in the two year time frame
  • Support of TOC and Network Rail
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