Devon County Council (DCC) has an aspiration to restore rail services between Tavistock and Plymouth. These services would use a reinstated section of railway between Tavistock and Bere Alston, and continue onto Plymouth using the existing rail network. A new station would be constructed at Tavistock, south of the A390 Callington Road.
The restoration of these services would:
- Provide a sustainable link between Tavistock, the largest town in West Devon, and Plymouth, the largest city in the South West Peninsula;
- Increase service frequencies to existing rail stations at Bere Alston, St Budeaux (Victoria Road), Keyham and Devonport;
- Improve access to Dartmoor National Park, the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site;
- Help to minimise traffic congestion and pollution on the A386;
- Help tackle the Climate Emergency, by encouraging modal shift from car to rail;
- Reduce deprivation in West Devon and Plymouth, by improving access to education, employment and services, thus supporting the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda.
This one-page summary of the project emphasises the case for the restoration of these services, as part of a wider package of rail improvements in Plymouth and South West Devon.
Strategic Outline Business Case
In Autumn 2022, DCC submitted a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) for restoring Tavistock-Plymouth rail services. The selected scheme would deliver a new station at Tavistock, and reinstate approximately 5 miles of track.
The proposed station would be served by hourly trains to Plymouth, via Bere Alston. These trains would operate in addition to the existing two-hourly Gunnislake – Bere Alston – Plymouth service. This would also improve service frequencies to Plymouth’s suburban stations at St Budeaux, Keyham and Devonport.
Through the SOBC, DCC is seeking £3 million to further develop the scheme. This would enable DCC to develop the business case, progress the detailed design, and complete the Development Consent Order process. Following this, a final decision would be needed to proceed to constructing the scheme.
Restoring Your Railway Fund Application
In March 2021, DCC submitted an application to the Department for Transport’s Restoring Your Railway Fund, requesting funding to develop the Business Case for the project. The application summarises the work conducted to date, and explains the potential social, economic and environmental benefits of the project in more detail. The Appendices to the application contain various supporting documents.
Up to £50,000 of funding for the project was announced in the Spending Review and Autumn Budget 2021.
A public consultation took place between 25 January and 8 February 2013. The consultation provided the public and stakeholders with further information regarding the project and has helped the County Council to understand the views of the local community. These views will be used to inform the development of the project in future.
Consultation feedback is included in the report below:
Although the consultation has now closed, the consultation documentation is still available to view below:
Appraisal specification report
The Appraisal Specification Report has been prepared to inform decision makers and stakeholders of how various assessments (including Economic, Environmental, Social & Distributional and Operational Assessments) will be undertaken and how they will be supported by the traffic modelling work. It takes account of budgetary, programme, political, environmental and spatial constraints.
In July 2014, a report was presented to Devon County Council’s Cabinet, recommending the development of the project, including securing the necessary powers to deliver the railway. This was approved by Cabinet.
Environmental Impact Assessment
Because this project is a nationally significant infrastructure project, Devon County Council must apply to the Secretary of State for consent. The first step of the application process is to ask the Secretary of State whether a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) is required (the ‘screening’ stage), and the second step is to set out the scope of the assessments needed for the EIA (the ‘scoping’ stage).
A Devon County Council screening/scoping report was submitted in 2014, to trigger both the screening and scoping stages.
Subsequently, the Secretary of State determined that a full EIA will be required and issued a scoping opinion, which sets out the scope of surveys to be undertaken.
Options assessment report
The Options assessment report for the project sets out the various transport scheme options and alternatives that have been considered. It shows that the railway-re-instatement provides the best value for money over other interventions.