Date set for re-opening of Dartmoor Line

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The Dartmoor Line that links Exeter and Okehampton in South West England is to reopen this autumn after an absence of 49 years.

Dartmoor Line
Dartmoor Project partners celebrate date announcement (Image: Network Rail)

Services will launch on Saturday 20 November, marking the first reopening under the government’s Restoring Your Railway programme.

“The project, funded by over £40m from the Department for Transport, is part of the wider campaign to reverse catastrophic cuts to the rail network primarily led by the Beeching axe,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps. “The work has been a successful collaboration between the DfT, Network Rail, GWR, Devon County Council, Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, and local campaigners and MPs.”

According to Network Rail, the route will connect Exeter St Davids, Crediton and Okehampton. Around half of services, including those at peak times, will carry on to Exeter Central.

Dartmoor Line to reopen after half a century

In an effort that has taken nine months, Network Rail has delivered a programme of work that included laying 11 miles of new track and installing 24,000 concrete sleepers and 29,000 tonnes of ballast. Repairs have also been made to 21 structures along the route including four bridges. Work including vegetation clearance, earth and drainage works and fencing are ongoing in preparation for the return of regular services.

“Our team has worked incredibly hard alongside our project partners GWR, Devon County Council, Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership and the local community to ensure this railway is ready to open,” said Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western route and strategic operations director. “We can’t wait to welcome passengers back to the Dartmoor Line after an absence of nearly 50 years, linking passengers to Exeter and services to the rest of the country.”

“What a day Saturday 20 November will be – the day Okehampton fully re-joins the national rail network,” added Richard Burningham, manager of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership. All of a sudden, a large area of west Devon and north and east Cornwall will be 30 miles nearer the railway than it is today. It’s going to make a big, very positive difference to many people’s lives.”