Council plans to make West Devon better connected with new railway and cycle route
Posted on: 21 January 2013
Residents in West Devon are being asked for their views on proposals to reopen the railway between Tavistock and Bere Alston.
Devon County Council wants to reinstate the section of railway, which closed in the 1960s, to help minimise the impact of traffic resulting from planned development to the south and south-west of Tavistock, including 750 new homes.
The proposals include the construction of a 9km new single track railway to link Tavistock to Bere Alston and on to Plymouth and the opening of a new cycleway and footpath which will link Tavistock with the Bere Peninsular. The pedestrian and cycle route will also link with other existing cycle and pedestrian trails in Tavistock to ensure good access to the station, as well as provide an attractive leisure route.
A new station in the Callington Road area of Tavistock will include facilities for passengers as well as parking, cycle storage and links to local bus services to ensure good access to the town centre. The existing station at Bere Alston will also be upgraded.
The aspiration is to eventually have an hourly service between Tavistock and Plymouth.
The new railway line will use the structures, cuttings and embankments left intact when the original line was decommissioned, although some strengthening work will need to be done to bring them in line with modern load standards and ensure they are suitable for the life of the railway.
The project forms part of West Devon Borough Council’s Core Strategy, which was adopted in April 2011, and funding will largely come from developer contributions alongside contributions from central government and Devon County Council.
Devon County Council has worked alongside the Borough Council and other organisations to ensure that the planned development in the area is consistently formulated with supporting infrastructure. The County Council has also underlined the importance of this project by identifying it for investment over the next fifteen years in the Local Transport Plan.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said:
“For many years there has been an ambition to reopen the railway line between Tavistock and Bere Alston.
“When the line was taken out of use in 1968, it left the A386 as the primary link between Tavistock and Plymouth which has understandably become very congested in recent years.
“Reopening it will help minimise traffic on the busy A386 by freeing-up the highway network to improve the consistency of bus services and improving travel options for residents and businesses with a direct rail service on the popular commuter routes between Tavistock and Plymouth.
“It will also link rural West Devon with Plymouth and the wider national rail network, which will benefit our local economy by making it much easier for people to travel around the region.
“The new cycleway and footpath will also benefit the area by offering residents and visitors of West Devon and Plymouth with an attractive route between important parts of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site.
“It will no doubt prove to be a welcome addition to our growing cycle network which is fast turning Devon into a premier designation for cycling and cycle tourism, boosting the local economy by attracting many visitors to enjoy walking and cycling in our beautiful county.”
Councillor Debo Sellis, Devon County Council’s Local Member for Tavistock, said:
“I suggest residents attend the information events & find out as much as they can about the plans.
“We are advised the reinstatement of the rail track will be of benefit to commuters.
“The route travels through outstanding scenery and I hope that this is a start to increased rail provision in the West Country in general.”
Devon County Councillor Philip Sanders, who represents Bere Alston, said:
“This is a long awaited scheme which, as well as providing a facility for people to commute into Plymouth, will also produce a spectacular train ride through the Tamar Valley and on into the countryside leading to Tavistock, and I’m sure it will be popular with those wanting to explore the area by foot or bicycle.
“As a keen cyclist I really look forward to the opportunity of a dedicated cycle route into the Bere peninsula, and I know this is something that will be welcomed by local residents.
“I am delighted that this scheme has advance to the stage of public consultation and would encourage everyone to come along and express their views and show their support for this much needed facility.”
Information events will take place at:
- Tavistock Pannier Market. 30 January 2013. 09.30 – 16.30.
- Tavistock Town Hall. 30 January 2013. 17.30 – 20.00
- Bere Alston Station. 31 January 2013. 14.00 – 17.30
- Bere Alston Village Hall. 31 January 2013. 18.00 – 20.00
Before the railway can be developed, Devon County Council needs to apply for the appropriate powers from Government though the Transport and Works Act Order, which requires a public enquiry.
This could be held in 2014, and if the powers are obtained, construction could begin in 2016.
Supported by other organisations, Devon County Council has started on the preparation phase of this process, which requires significant work to examine the current structures on the disused rail track, lie of the land and the environmental character of the route before designing the railway and stations.
Community involvement is vital, and there will be opportunities for local residents, businesses and community groups to get involved over the coming three years.