Devon County Council has submitted a bid for funding to develop the business case for the Tavistock to Plymouth railway.
Re-opening the link between Tavistock and Plymouth will encourage people to use rail services, helping to ease congestion on the A386 and reduce carbon emissions.
The authority is bidding for a grant from the Ideas Fund of the Restoring Your Railway programme. The funding would be used to produce a Strategic Outline Business Case and update extensive survey work already undertaken on the route.
The project will aim to reinstate the disused rail line between Tavistock and Bere Alston to provide hourly rail services through to Plymouth, as well as opening a new single platform railway station at Tavistock next to the 750 dwelling development under construction. Two-hourly services between Plymouth and Gunnislake would be maintained.
Improving rail connectivity will boost access to employment, education and healthcare for residents in Tavistock and West Devon as well as providing better access to Dartmoor National Park. Increasing rail services will also benefit the communities of St Budeaux, Keyham and Devonport in Plymouth with more frequent city connections.
Councillor Andrea Davis, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, said: “Reinstating this rail link is vital to support growth in Devon and to help reduce carbon emissions. We’ve submitted a strong bid for funding to help us work up an outline business case. We’ve already undertaken feasibility studies, conceptual design and operational planning with technical support and advice from GWR and Network Rail. The Department for Transport has recognised that a lot of work that has already been carried out to develop the Tavistock to Plymouth rail link and we’re hopeful they’ll help us progress this scheme further.”
Councillor Debo Sellis, County Councillor for Tavistock, said: “Devon County Council is looking to the future with the re-instatement of this rail link. Listening to many young residents it is clear they want their future to have less reliance on the motor car, however it may be powered.”
Councillor Philip Sanders, County Councillor for Yelverton Rural, said: “Our road network cannot continue to absorb the increasing number of vehicles seeking to use it every day. In a rural ward such as mine access to private transport is currently essential but we must find a way to decrease this dependency. I’m very keen to support this initiative for a rail link to Plymouth from Tavistock which will undoubtedly be a significant step forward in this process. It will not solve all of the current issues on the A386 but it will be a step towards reducing carbon emissions and dependency on the road network.”
The reinstatement of the rail line to Tavistock is identified in the 20-year plan of the Peninsula Rail Task Force, highlighting it as a key second phase for the Northern Route between Plymouth and Exeter via Tavistock, following on from the planned reinstatement of services between Okehampton and Exeter.
Future phases of the project could also enable an extension of the service to Ivybridge and the re-opening of a station at Plympton.
Devon County Council is hoping to hear later this summer if its bid has been successful.