Passengers in Devon are set to benefit from greater connectivity after the reopening of the railway line between Okehampton and Exeter.
Services are expected to restart on the 14-mile stretch of railway, known as the Dartmoor Line, later this year.
Improving connections for a number of communities in the area, the regular, daily passenger rail services will represent the first in almost 50 years that the line has been in consistent use.
It was opened as part of the Government’s ‘Restoring your Railway’ initiative.
As well as connecting Okehampton more regularly, access will also be provided to and from the wider mid and west Devon and north Cornwall areas.
Working in partnership with Great Western Railway (GWR), Network Rail has been carrying out detailed investigations to understand what infrastructure and railway control system improvements are needed to bring the Dartmoor line up to the required standard for GWR to enable safe operation of trains.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “The return of all-year services to the picturesque Dartmoor Line for the first time in half a century is a milestone moment in our efforts to restore our railways.
“Reversing lost railway connections breathes new life into our high streets, drives tourism and investment in businesses and housing, and opens new opportunities for work and education.”
Christian Irwin, Network Rail’s Industry Programme Director, added: “We’re thrilled to have received funding confirmation from the Government to support us in reopening the Dartmoor Line.
“We’re excited by the numerous benefits the reopening of this railway will bring to Okehampton and surrounding areas, and we are now fully focussed on undertaking the necessary engineering work required to prepare this line for the return of regular passenger services.
“We’re grateful to our partners and supporters who are helping make this a realisation and would like to thank local residents living near to the railway for their patience whilst we ramp up our activity to get the track ready.”
GWR expects to introduce passenger service by the end of 2021 with trains running every two hours, seven day a week.