'Vital' Okehampton to Exeter rail route to restart daily services after 49 years

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Image source, Daniel Clark
Image caption, Work on the "vital scheme" is due to start in April with £40m of central funding announced in the budget

Daily rail services are to restart between Okehampton and Exeter for the first time in nearly 50 years.

December has been pencilled in for the resumption of regular passenger services on the 14 mile (23km) route.

Regular services were withdrawn in 1972, although the route has been used on Sundays in the summer since 1997.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps called re-opening the picturesque route a "milestone moment in our efforts to restore our railways".

Network Rail is working with Great Western Railway to deliver the service with trains running every two hours, seven days a week.

Image source, Daniel Clark
Image caption, The daily service could help reduce congestion on the A30 and be faster than travelling by car

Funding for the service, which could become hourly in 2022, is part of the Department for Transport's Restoring your Railway initiative, said the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

Mel Stride, Conservative MP for Central Devon, said he was "delighted" that the "vital scheme" was going ahead.

Dr Michael Ireland, from campaigners OkeRail said it was "really important" for the "whole of the region out to Holsworthy and Bude" and was "incredible news for tourism, for the economy, and for education and leisure".

The move has given increased vigour to backers of a route connecting Okehampton with Tavistock and Plymouth.

Devon County Council has submitted two further bids as part of the Restoring Your Railway Fund to the section between Bere Alston and Tavistock, and the section between Tavistock and Okehampton.

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