Dartmoor Line services to return for first time in half a century


Dartmoor Line pre-1960

Regular passenger services will return on a largely disused Dartmoor Line later this year as part of Government plans to reverse the Beeching cuts.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said trains will run every two hours on the Dartmoor Line between Exeter and Okehampton, Devon, all year round by the end of 2021, increasing to an hourly service towards the end of 2022.

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Regular services were withdrawn in 1972, and the line has only been open during the summer since 1997.

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The £40.5 million Government investment to boost the timetable will reconnect communities across Devon, increase tourism in Dartmoor National Park and ease access to jobs and education, according to the DfT.

Network Rail will lay 23 miles of new track as part of the project.

The new services will be run by Great Western Railway.

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The Government also committed £37.4 million of funding for the third phase of work to improve the resilience of the coastal route between Holcombe and Dawlish.

This is in addition to a £341 million package of rail enhancements for the South West which was previously announced.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Restoring the connections between our communities, and building new ones, is key to unlocking our nation’s potential and levelling up across the UK.

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“The massive investment we are making into the railways of the South West will quite literally lay the tracks to more jobs, tourism and opportunities across the region.”

The Dartmoor Line is the first project to see an increase in services under the Government’s Restoring Your Railway fund, launched in 2020 to reinstate axed services and reopen closed stations.

British Railways chairman Dr Richard Beeching published a report in 1963 which led to the rail network being decimated.

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He recommended the closure of more than 6,000 miles of railway and 2,300 stations due to low demand and high costs.

This was around a third of the network.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The return of all-year services to the picturesque Dartmoor Line for the first time in half a century is a milestone moment in our efforts to restore our railways.

“Reversing lost railway connections breathes new life into our high streets, drives tourism and investment in businesses and housing, and opens new opportunities for work and education.”

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