County Council consults on Okehampton rail options

GWR Exeter – Okehampton service

Posted on: 26 January 2018

A number of options for a new railway station at Okehampton are being considered by Devon County Council as it develops proposals for the reintroduction of regular weekday trial services in partnership with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Great Western Railway (GWR).

A feasibility study, commissioned by the Council, is looking at a variety of platform layouts for a parkway station and required infrastructure improvements as part of the scheme. These have been presented to the OkeRail Forum as part of consultation with key stakeholders, which also includes GWR, Aggregate Industries and Dartmoor Railway.

Key considerations include safe running of regular passenger trains, access for freight trains and current or future lease holder services.

Elements required for a modern station, such as local ramped access and CCTV, are being considered as part of the proposals for a parkway station. Cost estimates are yet to be determined but various local and other funding sources will be needed.

Track improvements would also need to be made to cope with the running of regular services. A site inspection of the track has shown that around a third of the track, while suitable for light use, would fall short of the standards required for more intensive use of several daily services.

Two potential designs are being considered for a car park, providing around 210 parking spaces with a drop-off point for buses and taxis, and facilities for cycle parking.

Councillor Andrea Davis

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Development and Waste, said: “Re-establishing daily train services between Okehampton and Exeter would provide a huge lift to the West Devon economy and support long term growth in the area – and it is a point I made to Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, at a recent meeting. We’ve made progress in developing alternative layouts for the station, as well as considering other essential elements needed to run a daily service. We’ll be looking to work together with the community and stakeholders to develop the scheme but we have to be realistic and accept that we will be reliant on external funding to get this up and running.”

Mike Davies, Chairman of OkeRail, said: “We want to maximise usage for the benefit of the community. Progress is being made and we are now working through the details presented us. It would be great to have a start date but a few things need to put in place first.”

Councillor Kevin Ball

Councillor Kevin Ball, Devon County Councillor for Okehampton Rural, said: “I echo Cllr Davis’ point – the economic uplift for West Devon is essential and it’s been shown that the reintroduction of railways can provide that. The majority of the development in Okehampton is in the east of the town and a parkway station in that area would provide easy access for residents that side of town. Good progress has been made but there are many challenges ahead, including finding the funding for infrastructure. Everyone is working hard to make this happen, including our local MP Mel Stride.”

A number of additional surveys will need to be carried out to enable the project to progress. This includes assessments of level crossings, detailed track conditions, earthworks, and the communications system for drivers.

A report will now be finalised in the coming weeks setting out the options under consideration for further discussion with GWR, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the OkeRail Forum.

7 comments on “County Council consults on Okehampton rail options

  1. Steve says:

    By unforeseen, I mean things that become a problem as the project develops. Look at Kenilworth, now crippled by delays that were not there at the start.

    Why should Okehampton station be a temporary fix? Is it not included in the scheme for daily services?

    • Roger Griffith says:

      The recent successful charter train once again shows the demand for a daily service. The existing station at Okehampton needs to be upgraded as well as the construction of a ‘parkway’ station. Sampford Courtenay needs to be added as a requests stop at the very least.

      The single line at Newton St Cyres has created problems however trains from Okehampton need to run through to Exeter and beyond – such as Exmouth.

  2. Steve says:

    Don’t allow possible but as yet unforeseen problems with Parkway delay full opening. The existing station is up and running and has plenty of car parking so, that can be the main station while any delays with Parkway are sorted out. It needs to be double track between the 2 Okehampton stations, to allow both existing platforms to be used, increasing flexibility and capacity.

    • Roger Griffith says:

      That would do as a temporary fix. What are the ‘unforeseen problems’ with the parkway station?

  3. Roger Griffith says:

    Good to see that common sense has prevailed and that all the lobbying is paying dividends. I used the line before it closed to passengers and I have travelled down from Scotland several times to travel on the Sunday service. The level of patronage, the improved rail services in general and the increase in patronage on the Tarka Line all point to the the need for a parkway station and a regular daily service. Another factor is the rebirth of Okehampton Station and the enthusiasm and goodwill that exists in the community for the railway. I used Sampford Courtenay regularly and I hope that it will remain as a halt.

  4. Deborah Squire says:

    Fully support this. Will be great for Okehampton and surrounding area. Improves connectivity and gives our young people better access to employment and further education. Will ease road congestion too.

  5. Jan Goffey, Mayor of Okehampton says:

    It is such a relief to know that after all these years of lobbying and running a limited service with volunteers that Okehampton Station and a new Parkway on the edge of town will be providing a much needed service for students, commuters and walkers, cyclists and tourists!
    Our rural hinterland covers a vast area of not only West Devon but North Devon and North Cornwall, a population of some 30,000 which can be doubled in the summer. It will bring such a boost to our economies. Plus helping to reduce the daily traffic gridlock into and out of Exeter!

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