The 9.50am service was a little late leaving Okehampton for Exeter via Crediton, as the first summer train service stared on the 19th May, but nobody seemed to mind.
It was a beautiful sunny day, the platform was packed with people off shopping or going to Exeter for lunch or on to Teignmouth or Paignton for a day by the seaside.
Dr Michael Ireland the Vice Chairman of OkeRail was present to hand out timetables and information. One passenger, Sue Eberly, was sat at one of the tea tables with a large suitcase; Sue was off to London to attend the Chelsea Flower Show and had made use of the new Sunday service to get her to Exeter and then on to London.
The first two carriage train was packed for the 50 minute ride to Exeter through some stunning countryside.
The new Sunday summer rail service also saw the introduction of a new bus service that links Lydford, Brentor, Tavistock and
Gunnislake to Okehampton Station in time for the Exeter service.
The new bus service operates twice a day and is operated by
Plymouth City Bus and funded by CrossCountry and has been organised by the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership.
Jody Ball for CrossCountry said: “We are delighted to be helping the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership provide a new rail/bus link across Dartmoor. Connecting the two lines gives passengers the chance to make a day trip beyond the railway without a car.”
For more details about the rail/bus service: www.dartmoorbus.com
Fifty seven percent of Conservative MPs want to scrap the HS2 high speed rail link to Birmingham and beyond with only 32 percent in favour, 11 per cent didn’t know of wanting to continue the plan according to a recent YouGov poll. Boris Johnson, the favourite to become the Prime Minister, Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom are all against the £56 billion scheme.
It looks likely that HS2 could be the first casualty in any spending revue after the leadership competition of the Conservative Party has chosen their new leader.
The scrapping of HS2 will mean that that money may well become available for other rail infrastructure projects and high on the list is an inland rail link between Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton and Tavistock. Some of the line is still laid and the former track bed is also still in place. The project has been estimated to cost £500 million.
Network rail are to spend £30 million to increase the height of the seawall at Dawlish to try and protect the only rail link to the West Country which was washed in to the sea during the winter storms in 2014 which closed the rail line for eight weeks, effectively cutting off the South West for two months.
Another plan is to have a branch line from Okehampton to
Holsworthy and one day possibly to the Atlantic coast at Bude.
The new daily Exeter to Okehampton rail service is expected to begin in the spring of 2020.