South West MPs back campaign to reinstate regular Exeter to Okehampton rail services
Devon County Council’s campaign to re-establish regular rail services on the Exeter to Okehampton line has won the support of an influential group of South West MPs.
The South West Rail All Party Parliamentary Group will lobby the Department for Transport for vital funding following a presentation in Westminster by Cllr Andrea Davis, Devon’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Development and Waste.
The County Council is co-ordinating the Okehampton initiative on behalf of the wider Peninsula Rail Task Force, and working with the OkeRail Group.
Cllr Davis said: “It's a big step forward for the Department for Transport to include the Exeter to Okehampton line as a discussion proposal in its new development programme. We have to ensure this important project is shovel-ready, and while the County Council has already invested in some of the initial engineering studies we need to secure funding to carry out more.
“The support of the SW Rail Group of MPs will be key in moving this proposal forward and I'm delighted they're on board. Under the chairmanship of Gary Streeter, they are doing a sterling job of championing the pressing need for greater investment in the region’s rail network.
“Reinstating regular Exeter to Okehampton rail services is a key part of the PRTF’s ambition for a phased development that would include links serving Plymouth and Tavistock. It will bring great benefits for local connectivity serving West Devon and North Cornwall, and additional tourism revenue for Dartmoor National Park.
“Whilst the top priority remains securing the future of the coastal main line from Exeter to Cornwall with increased capacity and improved journey times, the Okehampton route has great potential as an additional line that will be warmly welcomed by many.”
Councillor Davis also recently met with the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and impressed upon him the need for investment to get the Exeter to Okehampton project up and running.
Councillor Davis said: “The Secretary of State has a keen interest in the project and I was pleased to have the opportunity to explain why we need the study funding. He listened carefully to the case and I hope that he may be able to help us.”