Freight Services

Although the original railway started back in 1898 with a goods service, it was now 100 years on and the railway was now re-launching a customer freight services once again. The last goods carried for customer freight was when the railway closed in 1935. The gamble would be investing in all the new stock only to find the service was not adopted by the freight haulage companies. West Lyn put the railways mind at rest as it had plans to comtinue expanding and it the wagons became surplus to requirment, then it would make use of them. With this the railway went ahead with it plans to launch a modern day freight service and set about with the installation of new lines in at Exeter, Tiverton and Taunton yards. An order was placed for six gantry cranes to be built so that two could be assembled in each yard. The rails for the cranes were ordered and then sunk into the ground at each freight yard.

The railway set about publishing its brochures and placing advertising in the magazines aimed at haulage companies and employed a small team of three sales people to make direct contact with haulage businesses around the region to promote the service. The yards would be operational by 1995. An addition to the yard at Tiverton was the construction of a large warehouse complex with a set of ten small units connected to a freight platform for loading, in addition the building would have one large warehouse unit that the railway would occupy with a freight line running inside. This would become the railways of supplies depot, as it was now having to move a vas amount of supplies around the network to keep all the stations running and it could save money by bulk buying and distributing the supplies itself.

The order was put in to North Pilton Yard to build a fleet of new box vans and platform wagons to build up the rail service. The initilal order was for twenty box vans and fifteen platform wagons for each of the three yards. In addition, there would be ten guards vans ordered that would then be used to protect the rear of each train. In addition, there would be another six of the class 500 Co-Co engines added to the fleet. 

The pricing of the services was sorted out with the rate per tonne per mile calculated carefully so that it was very competitive but still made a decent amount of profit for the railway, this left a good margin in for discounting larger clients and helped the sales team in negotiating with potential clients. At first the progress was slow but some small customers and firms were attracted to the idea. There was then one client that wanted to move cars between Exeter and Taunton as a hire company, they found they were constantly having to employ drivers to drive cars back and forth between their offices and was costing them a lot of money on an annual basis. Checking the dimensions of the platform wagons and the average width of a car and small van, the railway could easily transport cars. With this in mind, the loading platforms were widened at each of the yards so that it would make it easier to drive on and off the platform wagons.

Slowly but surely, the railway started getting bigger and bigger contracts agreed with new customers for the start of the services to launch. The railway now had sufficient data to look at scheduling and loads that they could carry and planned for a minimum of three trains a day in each direction for freight. 

The freight service launched on time with the first trains running with various loads of varying size wagons on an adhoc basis for a start, then as more customers saw the benefit the services got more regular. The car hire company was the first to adopt the service and was able to drive cars into the yards to be loaded up and moved across depots up to three times a day which made life much easier for them, as a driver could simply pick the cars up at the other end, saving time and money