My Time with Devon & Cornwall RP

  • My final day with Devon & Cornwall RP - Transforming the Riviera Line.


    My trip has been enlightening and extremely enjoyable, thanks to Rebecca, Richard, Mike and Celia. Being on the frontline, so to speak, has been a very valuable experience for me. I knew that Community Rail Officers undertake many varied roles and achieve successful projects by being resourceful, determined and by nurturing partnership working but seeing some of this first hand over the last few days has really brought home to me how the achievements of Community Rail Partnerships, station groups and everybody else involved in Community Rail should be held high and shared! We should not be afraid to fly the flag high and proud!

    My final day was spent visiting Exeter St Thomas with Celia Minoughan, partnership officer for the Riviera Line (and now the Avocet Line too) and hearing about all the improvements that have been achieved at other stations along the line. Celia was initially employed for 18 months as part of the EU Citizens’ Rail project, more details of which are available at The primary aim of this project was to facilitate improvements of some kind at every station along the Riviera Line and that has pretty much been achieved. But Celia’s embarkation as a new partnership officer was not an easy one as she had been in the post only two days when the collapse of Dawlish station occurred following incredible storms. Most of the first three months of the project was focused upon getting Dawlish back up and running as quickly as possible, which amazingly was achieved through phenomenal teamwork. In fact this particular teamwork went on to win the ‘Outstanding Teamwork Award’ at the 2014 Community Rail Awards

    Celia’s enthusiasm is obvious as she shows me the improvements that have already been made at Exeter St Thomas and shares with me, plans for the near future. (See Pic 1).

    New ticket machines ready to be activated and live departure boards now keep passengers vitally informed. On the westbound platform, new waiting shelters stand where once dilapidated brick ones stood. A ‘Harrington Hump’ has been installed on this platform to provide easier access onto the trains (see pic 2) and a large piece of community art is being planned for the big expanse of blank wall. A mural will depict rare and beautiful trees of the area and will link in to a ‘Tree Trail’ project that is also in the pipeline. I was hoping to visit an ancient wisteria arch in Pinces Gardens with Celia but we ran out of time chatting over lunch about so much else taking place.

    Celia is particularly proud of what has been achieved on the eastbound side at St Thomas station, first showing me half of a fenced off area waiting for work to start (see pic 3). These fenced off areas actually form the roofs of businesses below so the challenge has been to find a way of making them more attractive without being able to do the usual garden type improvements. The second half of the area has already been transformed by contractors Landmark Living Roofs who bedded in Sedum matting over the top of broken flags to create ‘The Eco Garden’, they even rescued and created a sculpture from waste flags that had lain in a pile for years. (see pics 4, 5 & 6). Sedum matting is used for green roof planting so was ideal for this purpose. Some very talented volunteers created the wonderful Bug Hotel that is shown in pic 5.

    There are now plans to work with a local artist and school children to create mosaic mini beasts to adorn the walls at the back of the Eco garden. The original mini beast project came third in the ‘Small Projects Award’ category of the Community Rail Awards 2015.

     Other improvements along the line include gardening projects at all the Torbay stations undertaken by Robert Owen Communities Aspects; new station friends groups being set up; walking/dining/shopping events taking place; art projects; further gardening projects with Exeter University Student Volunteering Department.

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     Link to Before & After Article on Exeter St Thomas inprovements 



  • Celia  Minoughan
    Celia Minoughan Great to have Hazel visiting the Riviera Line and seeing our improvements at Exeter St Thomas station
    November 30, 2015
  • Jim Trotman
    Jim Trotman Well done Hazel and I'm pleased to see food featuring in your blogs in good CR fashion. Jim
    November 30, 2015