Plans for new rail station back on track

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Authored by News Desk
Posted Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - 4:13pm

A new planning application for a railway station at Marsh Barton will be submitted at the start of 2020, Devon County Council has announced.

Changes to design standards led to rising costs and an unsuccessful bid to the Department for Transport's New Stations Fund left a funding shortfall which delayed the project. As a result, Devon County Council has taken the opportunity to re-think the design of the access to the station.

This has many benefits as the new access ramps will strengthen a failing embankment, deliver an improved access into the city’s cycle network avoiding Clapperbrook Lane, and would minimise risk of delay during construction as it could be delivered away from the live railway.

Network Rail is co-operating on the revised scheme and GWR is offering assistance to align planned maintenance of the railway with the scheme programme to try and reduce the length of its construction.

The new design has enabled the funding gap to be closed, with additional funds from developer contributions and the Local Transport Plan. 

A number of challenges remain to ensure that the scheme is delivered, and the County Council will now focus on elements such as securing planning permission for the revised scheme and gaining rail technical approvals.

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Development and Waste, said: “The delivery of Marsh Barton station is a long-standing aspiration for the County Council and we have remained committed to the project despite unfortunate delays. The additional funding which has been secured is very welcome in helping us progress with this scheme, which will help provide sustainable transport access to a key employment area of the city. We’ve taken the time to come up with alternative solutions for the station access and, working with the rail industry, we’re trying to identify potential suggestions to help make savings on the scheme.”

Councillor Yvonne Atkinson, County Councillor for Alphington and Cowick, said: "This is good news for south west Exeter. A new station will mean commuters from Dawlish and Newton Abbot can get the train to work in Marsh Barton. This will help alleviate congestion and air pollution. The station will be linked to cycle and pedestrian paths from the new housing developments at south west Exeter to encourage people to leave their cars at home when travelling into the city centre. Hopefully commercial bus companies can be persuaded to provide new services to the station. The new station is an important step towards creating an integrated transport system not based around the car and will help meet climate emergency pledges to ensure Exeter is carbon neutral by 2030. The long term vision is to turn Alphington into a Garden City where people and nature can co-exist sustainably."

John Newland, Network Rail’s senior sponsor for the Marsh Barton project, said: “We are passionate about improving the railway for passengers and this includes at Marsh Barton. It’s great that Devon County Council (DCC) is now able to submit a planning application and marks a further step forward in delivering the new station. Getting to this stage has been possible thanks to close working with DCC and we look forward to continuing to work together.”

Devon is one of the leading authorities in the country for opening new rail stations, with stations opening at Cranbrook and Newcourt in Exeter in 2015.