Ex-Southern Railway ‘N’ Class 2-6-0 No 31845 passes the car dock
at Okehampton station with a train from Exeter on August 29, 1964.
The return of a regular passenger rail service from Exeter to Okehampton is now a clear reality after £40m of funding to reinstate services was included in the Budget. The reopening of the line between Okehampton and Exeter had been included as part of the Government Comprehensive Spending Review and the National Infrastructure Strategy, but the further financial commitment to the services brings the return of regular trains a step closer.
Regular Okehampton to Exeter passenger services were withdrawn on June 5, 1972, although since 1997 a limited service has run between Okehampton and Exeter on Sundays during the summer
A line in the 107 page Budget states: “This Budget will also unlock more than £40 million of funding to reinstate passenger services on the Okehampton-Exeter line, subject to final approval of costs and contracts. These investments will provide good quality transport links between communities, and improve employment opportunities across these areas.”
Mel Stride, MP for Central Devon, was left delighted by the announcement, and said: “The Okehampton to Exeter rail service is now a clear reality. I have campaigned on this for many years and huge congratulations to all those who have put their shoulder to the wheel.
“Okehampton and towns and villages between Okehampton and Exeter can now look forward to a massively improved rail service, and this is great news for tens of thousands of my constituents.
“I’m delighted that after many years of local campaigning Government has backed this vital scheme. I look forward to seeing Network Rail ready the track for the return of regular passenger services in the coming months; so we can reconnect communities, boost tourism and give many thousands of my constituents the quality of local transport infrastructure they should rightly expect.”