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Rail improvements to impact journeys on the Tarka Line

Plans to carry out track improvement and platform extension work will see the railway line between Barnstaple and Crediton closed for nine days this April. From Saturday 10 to Sunday 18 April, buses will replace trains between Barnstaple and Crediton. Buses will be timed to connect with trains which will continue to run between Crediton and Exeter. A separate shuttle bus will serve Yeoford, connecting with trains at Crediton. As part of these rail improvements, Network Rail will be working day and night on a number of important upgrades. At Lapford and Kings Nympton stations engineers will be working to renew the ballast that supports the track, whilst at Eggesford station platforms 1 and 2 will be extended and new lighting, drainage and fencing will be installed. There will also be a range of work to a number of bridges on the Tarka Line. At Penstone repairs are being made to the under bridge including replacing the existing wrought–iron deck with a new standard steel deck; near Coleford the track and bridge at Battesford is being removed and then infilled; and at Yeoford bridge engineers will remove the track, carrying out steelwork repairs, grit blasting, painting and waterproofing the bridge. GWR Station Manager for the branch line, Melanie Harvey, thanked passengers in advance for their patience and reminded them of the changes ahead which these improvement works are helping to bring. Melanie said: “This work is important to ensure that we can continue to provide services people can rely on at this time, and we thank customers for their patience in advance. We have been working hard to make sure that people can be confident to travel safely, and that includes running as many trains and carriages as we can to make extra room, and replacement buses where trains cannot operate, as well as enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures.” Completion of the work will allow trains to run at an increased line speed, providing greater resilience. Platform extension work being carried out at Eggesford will also make boarding or leaving the train easier and improve accessibility for less-abled customers. These improvements come after a major timetable change was introduced on the Tarka Line in December 2019, which brought a more consistent and frequent service pattern throughout the day. With the Government’s present advice restricting travel, GWR is operating a reduced timetable. Customers should follow Government guidelines, people should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times. The train operator has been providing rail services throughout the pandemic and has worked to ensure these are as safe as possible. This includes increased cleaning regimes and the use of a virucidal spray; extra staff at key stations to offer help and guidance; and processes in place to help customers maintain a safe distance where possible, such as restricting the number of reservations available.

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