“We need to speak with one voice”
Dr Michael Ireland the Vice Chairman of OkeRail spoke to The Moorlander recently and gave an update on the progress of the proposed Okehampton to Exeter rail link.
The words ‘three year trial’ have been dropped but talks are going ahead with the resumption of a service in the near future from Okehampton to Exeter and beyond.
Dr Ireland said: “We need to speak with one voice if we are to get the Department of Transport (DfT) and the government minister to invest in the Okehampton line. There have been questions about when the railway will open and when the new Parkway Station will be built, but no exact date can be given before the DfT and Great Western Railway (GWR) regional development team have finished their plan for the line. GWR will factor into their plans the impact on passenger numbers Parkway Station will have on the economic viability of
the line. Devon County Council have ring fenced just over £200,000 as a contribution to the construction of the Parkway Station to the east of Okehampton. They cannot start construction on the new station before the service is approved by the DfT and GWR. To do otherwise would be seen as a waste of tax payers money.”
Dr Ireland also said that he intended to hold a meeting with Hatherleigh Mayor about having an express bus service from Hatherleigh to Okehampton Station. Concerns have also been voiced about traffic which is already a problem in Okehampton. The worry is that the area around the current Okehampton Station could be jammed with traffic and Station Road is already congested.
Mel Stride MP for Central Devon, Cllr Mike Davies of West Devon Council and Cllr Kevin Ball of Devon County Council met Transport Minister Jo Johnson MP in Westminster to ‘keep up the momentum’ of the campaign to bring back the rail service.
Mr Johnson the Transport Minister promised that the DfT would act on the GWR feasibility studies quickly and would make the announcement of a start date for the service a priority.