May 2022 – Tavistock, Devon

The Tavistock Herald has reported Devon County Council’s plans to re-open the line from Tavistock to Bere Alston, and provide an hourly service from Tavistock to Plymouth.  A recent engineering survey found the trackbed almost completely unobstructed, and the structures (bridges, tunnels and viaducts) in sound condition. Devon CC has now submitted a funding bid to secure a grant from the Ideas Fund of the ‘Restoring Your Railway’ programme.  If successful, the grant will be used to produce a Strategic Outline Business Case and update the previous extensive surveying work undertaken on the line.  Particularly encouraging was this part of the report, quoting from Debo Sellis, councillor for Tavistock: ‘Listening to many young residents it is clear they want their future to have less reliance on the motor car, however it may be powered.’  The Tavistock-Plymouth link is seen as Phase 2 of the wider project to re-open the entire ‘Dartmoor Line’ from Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton.

Reading other remarks from officials and councillors about the re-opening, I was reminded of the discussions that members had in the very early days of RR, when railways – especially long-surviving freight lines such as Bodmin-Wenfordbridge and Barnstaple-Meeth – were still being shut down; it was a déjà vu experience.  What a pity that it has taken the rest of society nearly 50 years to catch up with what we were saying then. (Steven Hills; Jeff Vinter)