Hourly services are to be introduced on the Dartmoor line between Exeter and Okehampton from 15th May, doubling the current service in a boost for the local economy.
Over the past 15 days, Network Rail has upgraded the line at Fatherford and Coleford by improving the drainage and track bed to enable faster line speeds ready for the increase to hourly services.
Since the line reopened last November, passenger numbers have exceeded expectations. 50,000 journeys were made in its first 20 weeks of operation, more than double the number predicted. Passenger numbers at Crediton have also increased by 39% against pre-pandemic levels. A year-round service now runs for the first time in almost 50 years, and is part of the Government’s £500 million manifesto commitment to ‘Restore Your Railways.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“The huge success of the Dartmoor Line shows that when you get the service right the public will respond with increased demand.
“This is one example of the bright future in store for our railways as we begin to reform the sector in the run-up to the creation of Great British Railways. Put the customer first and you’ll get the results.”
Rail Minister Wendy Morton said:
“I am so proud to be here today to see the amazing work completed on the Dartmoor line and the beginning of a new hourly service between Okehampton and Exeter.
“After speaking with regular users of the service, it’s clear how central it already is to the community, residents, and businesses.
“By not only restoring this great railway but doubling the number of daily services, it will bring even greater benefits to local people for generations to come.”
Michelle Handforth, Network Rail’s Wales & Western regional managing director, said:
“I’m delighted our recent upgrades have enabled the Dartmoor Line services to increase to hourly which will undoubtedly bring a further boost to tourism, the local community and regional economy for many years to come.
“This Sunday will mark another momentous milestone in the history of the Dartmoor Line as we celebrate the return of the first hourly services in nearly 50 years and I am extremely proud that we have delivered on this promise we made to the Government.”
Mark Hopwood, GWR Managing Director, said:
“Delivered £10 million under budget and within nine months, ahead of time, since opening the line has averaged around 2,000 journeys made every week – supporting local businesses, greater access to education and work for thousands who live locally, and providing a gateway to explore Dartmoor for visitors.
“This increase to hourly services will further increase the benefits from the reopening of this railway line, and I am delighted we are able to mark the occasion.
“The demand for services shows just how important good rail connections are for the community they serve.”