The Sunday rail service from Okehampton to Exeter started recently. Last Sunday was a lovely sunny morning and I had not got much to do, so took myself off to Okehampton Station to catch the first train of the summer season to Exeter.
I was greeted by array of beautiful MG motorcars from the Devon and Cornwall MG Owners Clubs out on their Atlantic Coast Rally.
The platform at Okehampton Station was buzzing with people; Janet Carpenter the new mayor of Okehampton was there to see the train off. Great Western Rail (GWR) did have a few problems as they had difficulty finding a driver for the service and at one point the GWR website said the service had been cancelled. But a driver was found at the last minute, so the service got back on track.
The train duly arrived and after stopping at Sampford Courtney and Crediton where railway man Raymond Gilbert joined the train. Raymond was a guard for Southern Rail from 1960s on this line until the line closed. Now 79, he told me that in those days he would go up as far as Bude and down to Plymouth and on to Penzance.
One couple I met at Okehampton Station was Sarah and Chris Styles-Power, from Sheepwash in Mid Devon, who weren’t just popping in to Exeter for lunch or a bit of shopping, they had planned their holiday to Milan in Italy around the Okehampton Sunday service so were travelling to Exeter St Davids, the London Train to Paddington before getting the Eurostar to Paris and then on to Italy.
They have also planned their trip back all the way by rail to Okehampton to arrive the following Sunday.
Dr Michael Ireland, the Vice Chair of OkeRail, said that after the summer Sunday service two more specials were planned this year, with the return of the Atlantic Coast Express from Okehampton to London Waterloo some time in November; the last time this ran was over fifty years ago.
I spent an hour or so looking around the shops in Exeter before getting the train back from Exeter Central. At Exeter St Davids I was joined by PC Conner Diamond of the British Transport Police on his ‘new beat’ on the Okehampton to Exeter service to make sure rail customers are secure and safe.
The Okehampton to Exeter Sunday Rail Service runs all summer until the 9th September 2019 departing at 9.55am 11.43am 15.23pm and 17.11pm to Sampford Courtney – Crediton -Exeter St Davids – Exeter Central and St James’ Park – departing Exeter St James at 09.01am -11.00am -14.27pm and 16.29 to Crediton, Sampford Courtney and Okehampton.
The cost of a return ticket which you can buy from the conductor on the train is £5.40 – what a bargain!