Passenger line reopens after 50 years: Victorian rail track will go back into use with daily services after it was closed as part of 1970s cutbacks
- The Victorian railway line between Exeter and Okehampton has reopened
- Boris Johnson has hailed the reopening as a ‘chance to choose rail over road’
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launched the reopening on Wednesday
- The line had been used as heritage railway providing Sunday services in summer
A Victorian railway line will open up for daily passenger services for the first time in nearly 50 years this weekend.
Boris Johnson yesterday hailed the reopening of the 14-mile line between Exeter and Okehampton in Devon, saying it was ‘the chance to choose rail over the road’.
Great Western Railway trains will operate on the route every two hours, seven days a week from Saturday. An hourly service is planned from next year.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launched the reopening yesterday with a ‘dry run’.
A train carried schoolchildren, campaigners and railway staff who have worked to get the Dartmoor Line ready since March.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps speaks with Dartmoor Railway Association volunteers Sue and Tom Baxter as he awaits his ride the first train on the newly reopened Dartmoor Line at Crediton Railway Station
Mr Shapps pictured alighting at Oakhampton station from the GWR Dartmoor Line. Daily passenger services on the line will resume on November 20
Regular passenger services were withdrawn on the line, built in the 1860s, in 1972 as part of huge cuts to the network and stations recommended by rail boss Dr Richard Beeching in the 60s.
It continued to operate as a freight-only line until 1997, serving a quarry.
The line has since been used as a heritage railway, providing Sunday services in summer.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Improving transport links is essential to levelling up and spreading opportunity across the country, which is why we are driving forward our pledge to reverse the Beeching cuts in Devon today.
‘As we reopen the Dartmoor Line, we are rightly reconnecting communities, giving passengers the chance to choose rail over the road and travel from Exeter to Okehampton on greener, cleaner modes of transport.’
Mr Shapps wears a hat, waves a flag and whistles off the GWR train at the launch on Wednesday
The Government invested £40.5 million into the project as part of their plans to reverse the Beeching cuts
Mr Shapps said: ‘By restoring the Dartmoor Line we are undoing 50 years of damage, reconnecting a community and creating new opportunities for jobs, tourism, education and recreation.
‘People love their railways and rightly miss them when they’re gone.
‘Today – ahead of time, and under budget – we’ve made a decisive step in fixing that, cutting the ribbon on a line and making a real difference to people’s lives.’
The Dartmoor Line was awarded £40.5million of investment through the Department for Transport’s Restoring Your Railway scheme, but the project came in £10million under budget.