More than £40 million of funding has been announced in today’s Budget to reinstate passenger services on the Okehampton to Exeter rail line.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak confirmed Government backing for regular services on the line, which has received a warm welcome in the county.
The investment will aim to improve transport links between communities and create employment opportunities across the county.
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Development and Waste, said: “This is a very welcome statement from the Chancellor and great news for people in the Okehampton area. The re-introduction of regular rail services to Okehampton will be another key element in supporting the recovery of the county’s economy.
“This has been a long-standing ambition of ours and no doubt everyone will be pleased that the government shares in that vision. The County Council has invested a huge amount of time and money to keep the line alive with the summer service, and Network Rail, GWR and local partners have all worked closely to reach this crucial stage in the project.”
Councillor Kevin Ball, Devon County Councillor for Okehampton Rural, said: “This is further confirmation that the Government is committed to seeing this through. We look forward to a formal announcement and seeing the commencement of this service.”
Mel Stride MP for Central Devon said: “I’m delighted that after many years of local campaigning Government has backed this vital scheme. I look forward to seeing Network Rail ready the track for the return of regular passenger services in the coming months; so we can reconnect communities, boost tourism and give many thousands of my constituents the quality of local transport infrastructure they should rightly expect.”
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Following today’s budget announcement, we welcome confirmation that government has made available over £40m of funding to support the reopening of the Dartmoor Line as part of the Department for Transport’s ‘Restoring Your Railway’ initiative.
“We look forward to completing the necessary preparatory work and working with our partners to finalise plans for regular passenger services between Okehampton and Exeter.”
Devon County Council has supported the Okehampton line over the past couple of decades with the summer Sunday service to and from Exeter, demonstrating its commitment to seeing this line brought back into regular weekday service.