UK: Dartmoor Line Celebrates 550,000 Passenger Journeys

The West Devon town of Okehampton recently held a community celebration for the second anniversary of its fully reopened Dartmoor Line.

This was the first line to be reopened under the government’s Restoring Your Railway programme, which pledged more than 40 million GBP toward the project.

Since being delivered 10 million GBP under budget, the line has served over 550,000 passengers.

A group of people surround a cake on a green platform
The Dartmoor Line was restored in nine months and delivered £10m under budget

This week, the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership (DCRP) held a birthday celebration in collaboration with GWR and local support group, Okerail to commemorate the impact the reopened line has had on the local community. The party was attended by the Mayor of Okehampton, Cllr Allenton Fisher; the Mayor of West Devon, Cllr Lynn Daniels; OkeRail representatives; the DCRP; the Dartmoor Railway Association; Great Western Railway and Network Rail among others involved with the restoration.

Matt Barnes, GWR Head of Strategic Service Development, said:

“It has been two years since we and our partners reopened the Dartmoor Line. This anniversary, with more than half a million journeys now made, is a testament to the hard work of so many who campaigned for the line’s reinstatement, and the benefits of investing in local transport.

“The continued demand shows just how important good rail connections are for the community, and the economies, they serve.”

Since its reopening, the Dartmoor Line has extended services toward towns such as Tavistock, Launceston and Bude, with new connecting buses from the Okehampton station as well as increased journey frequency to undertake hourly journeys seven days a week in May 2022.

The line, which previously ran a limited ‘Sunday Service’ between Okehampton and Exeter from 1997 to 2019, began full restoration in March 2021, with upgrades to the track being undertaken between the town and the former Coleford Junction, where the line itself joins the existing line towards Exeter.

Further evaluation of the line’s impact on the community is currently underway, with research concluding by Spring 2024 aiming to assess how the services have delivered against their expected benefits since re-introduction. Devon County Council, who played a key role in the restoration, is now leading a similar project to reintegrate Tavistock back onto the rail network.

Dr Michael Ireland, Chair of OkeRail and an Okehampton town councillor, said:

“The huge success of the Dartmoor Line is a great delight to us all. I am very proud of the role I and other local people and organisations such as OkeRail and the Dartmoor Railway Association have played in both getting the line reopened and making it such an asset to the town and the wider area it serves.”

Okehampton is also due to receive a further 13.4 million GBP as part of the government’s Levelling Up Fund in order to develop a second station towards the east end of town.

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