Jan 2021 – Okehampton, Devon

A year ago things looked bleak for the North Dartmoor line and any reinstatement of passenger trains on the line from Exeter to Okehampton. Heritage services from Okehampton to Meldon Quarry also ceased when the owners went into receivership. However, the government has now included a commitment in its National Infrastructure Strategy to restart regular passenger services between Exeter and Okehampton, via Crediton. Deliveries of new concrete sleepers and transition rails (bullhead at one end, flat bottom at the other) have arrived at Okehampton, while the signal box is likely to be considered an integral part of the reconstituted station, which has raised the hopes of the Dartmoor Railway Supporters’ Association (DRSA) for greater operational scope in the future. The DRSA also said: ‘Officials have surveyed the station site’s accessibility for bus services, checking the layout and turning area’. This is encouraging news for the DRSA who, as DevonLive reported, ‘were left high and dry following the collapse of the firm owning the Dartmoor Railway. They have continued to care for their assets at their Okehampton base, while the group report that those of the erstwhile Dartmoor Railway also remain on site’. A train service on this line opens up a viable public transport connection with the Granite Way, which uses the trackbed (or runs alongside it) from Okehampton to Lydford. It also brings the aspiration of reconnecting Exeter and 17 Plymouth via the old LSWR route, known formally as the Tavistock Okehampton Reopening Scheme (TORS), one step closer. (DevonLive, Dartmoor Railway Supporters’ Association, Keith Lawrie)