Rail users can enjoy 'moor' views as Dartmoor Line reopens after 50 years
- Credit: Tim Dixon
Devon rail users will for the first time in 50 years be able to travel from Exeter to Okehampton on the Dartmoor Line, which will reopen in November.
Saturday, November 20 will mark the first reopening under the Government’s Restoring Your Railway programme which is exploring ways to return old lines and stations to service across the country.
The route will connect Exeter St Davids, Crediton and Okehampton lines providing a launchpad for visitors to explore Dartmoor and regional links for local commuters. Around half of services, including at peak times, will carry on to Exeter Central. The reopening of the route is expected to boost local businesses, the tourism sector, and provide greater access to education and work for thousands of people who live locally.
Network Rail’s team of engineers has been working on the programme to reopen the line in just nine months, including laying 11 miles of new track and installing 24,000 concrete sleepers and 29,000 tonnes of ballast in record time.
Repairs have also been made to 21 structures along the route including four bridges. A range of works, such as vegetation clearance, earth and drainage improvements and fencing installation are ongoing.
More improvements will be made over the winter including work on the station buildings to enable the restoration of the café and other facilities.
Mark Hopwood, GWR Managing Director, said: “Working with our partners at Network Rail and in the community we have long campaigned for the re-opening of this important local line, and we are really looking forward to being able to start running passenger trains again.
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“We’ve been working hard with Network Rail and local partners, including Devon County Council, to help prepare the line and the station at Okehampton for reopening on November 20 and this work will continue after November 20 as we develop the station facilities.
“The project to re-open the line is already helping to bring social and economic benefits to the local area reinforces the positive impact the railway can have on the communities we serve.”
Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western route and strategic operations director, said: “Our team has worked incredibly hard alongside our project partners GWR, Devon County Council, Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership and the local community to ensure this railway is ready to open.
“We can’t wait to welcome passengers back to the Dartmoor Line after an absence of nearly 50 years, linking passengers to Exeter and services to the rest of the country.”