For the first time in nearly 50 years, regular passenger services will resume on the Dartmoor Line, connecting Okehampton to Exeter.
Services are set to relaunch on November 20, 2021 and will represent the first reopening of a route under the Government’s Restoring Your Railway programme.
Connecting Exeter St Davids, Crediton and Okehampton, the route will provide a launchpad for visitors to explore Dartmoor and regional links for local commuters. Around half of the services, including at peak times, will also continue on to Exeter Central.
There are anticipated to be benefits for local businesses and the tourism sector from the reopening, as well as greater access to education and work for thousands living locally.
The reopening of the Dartmoor Line is set to arrive just nine months after the original funding being approved, following work by the Department for Transport (DfT) and its partners to accelerate the project.
More lines and stations are set to be reopened around the country, as part of the Restoring Your Railway programme and to support the overhauling of the railways from the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail.
In order to making the historic reopening possible, Network Rail’s engineers have worked to deliver a huge programme of work over those nine months, including the laying 11 miles of new track and installing 24,000 concrete sleepers and 29,000 tonnes of ballast.
This work has been achieved in record time and coincided with repairs to 21 structures along the route, including four bridges and a range of works including vegetation clearance, earth and drainage works, and fencing are ongoing in preparation for the return of regular services.
More work is planned over the winter to support the route’s reopening, including further work on the station buildings to enable to restoration of the café and other facilities.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The project, funded by over £40m from the Department for Transport, is part of the wider campaign to reverse catastrophic cuts to the rail network primarily led by the Beeching axe.
“The work has been a successful collaboration between the DfT, Network Rail, GWR, Devon County Council, Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, and local campaigners and MPs.”
Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western Route and Strategic Operations Director, added: “We’re delighted that we’ve reopened this much needed railway line for passenger services in just 9 months and ahead of schedule.
“Our team has worked incredibly hard alongside our project partners GWR, Devon County Council, Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership and the local community to ensure this railway is ready to open.
“We can’t wait to welcome passengers back to the Dartmoor Line after an absence of nearly 50 years, linking passengers to Exeter and services to the rest of the country.”