After nearly 50 years, daily passenger rail services are returning to Okehampton.
The Dartmoor Line reopening will be the first line to be reinstated under the Department for Transport’s 'Restoring your Railway' initiative.
Network Rail, GWR and partners are working closely to achieve the common aim of restoring passenger rail services to Okehampton by the end of 2021.
The train service
With a journey time of approximately 40 minutes to reach Exeter St Davids, The Dartmoor Line will provide easy access between Okehampton and Exeter.
The initial Dartmoor Line timetable (to start by the end of 2021) will provide:
- Trains every two hours each way, seven days a week, between Okehampton, Crediton and Exeter St Davids, including services for daily commuters.
- Approximately half of the daily Monday to Friday services will be extended to and from Exeter Central, including the key peak services.
- At a later date weekend services to be extended to and from Exeter Central where possible.
Additional infrastructure work will take place on the route to enable GWR to increase the service to hourly during 2022. More details will be published on this website when available.
Connecting people & places
Home to Okehampton Castle and the Museum of Dartmoor Life, the town is one of the walking centres of Devon.
Exeter is a key hub for the region. The new rail service will provide access for education, work, shopping and other opportunities.
Gateway to Dartmoor
Okehampton station is on the northern edge of Dartmoor and is at the start of The Granite Way, an 11-mile multi-use trail.
All Dartmoor Line trains will call at Crediton, providing a new public transport link with Okehampton. Change at Crediton for the Tarka Line to Barnstaple and North Devon. Rail users in Crediton will also benefit from more trains into Exeter.
West Devon & North East Cornwall
The Dartmoor Line brings a large area including Hatherleigh, Holsworthy, Launceston and Bude, much nearer the railway network. It also provides a new option for people from Tavistock travelling to Exeter and beyond.
A whole host of connections are available to the rest of the country from Exeter St Davids, opening up a wide range of onward travel options.
The reopened station at Okehampton will be unstaffed but will be equipped with all the requirements of a modern station, including:
- Card-only ticket machine
- Information screens
- CCTV coverage
- Resurfaced and lit pay and display car park
Despite being nearly 50 years since daily passenger services last ran, the station is a remarkable survivor, remaining very largely intact. The station was thoroughly and very sympathetically restored in the 1990s by Devon County Council and partners, including the late Roy Gibbs, for the introduction that year of Summer Sunday services.
The station has been well maintained since, thanks in large part to the Dartmoor Railway and the work of Dartmoor Railway Association volunteers.
Modernisation will be sympathetic to the heritage of the facility and will incorporate many of the existing Southern Railway features, enhanced to reflect its appearance in the 1950s.
There is an aspiration to open a parkway station at the east end of Okehampton in the coming years. This will be the subject of further work and funding bids.
Other stations on the route (such as Sampford Courtenay) are not planned to open under the current scheme.
The story so far
The railway first arrived at Okehampton in 1871 as part of a series of extensions from Exeter into the northwest area of Devon. It later formed part of the Southern Railway network and became a key point for their flagship train ‘The Atlantic Coast Express’ which would serve such destinations as Plymouth, Bude, Wadebridge and Padstow, direct from London Waterloo.
Railway lines out to these towns were cut back in the 1960s as a result of the Beeching Report. The route to Tavistock and Plymouth closed in 1968. Services continued between Exeter and Okehampton for a few years but were later withdrawn in 1972.
Read more about the history of the line.
Campaign for reopening
Local people have long campaigned for the return of regular year round services between Okehampton and Exeter.
The campaign took a key step forward with the forming of the OkeRail Forum in 2014. An initiative of the County Council, this brought campaigners, council representatives and a range of other interested parties together to work towards reopening.
The popularity of the Summer Sunday trains coupled with the Forum's evidence gathering, data modelling, engagement with the rail franchising process and special trains to London, Stratford-upon-Avon and Weymouth all played a critical role in making the return of daily passenger services a reality.
Read more about the campaign for reopening.
Getting the line ready
Teams across Network Rail have been inspecting the existing railway to see what improvements are needed to bring the infrastructure up to standard. Various surveys and investigations to help inform the development of the proposals are being undertaken.
There have already been various materials delivered along the railway both by road and rail, such as new 36,288 metres of rail, 24,500 sleepers and 34,000 tonnes of stone as well as welfare facilities.
Keep up to date with developments in our News section.
We recognise the existing station buildings at Okehampton are a valuable community asset and we are committed to working with partners to retain and enhance this facility.
We will work with local stakeholders to reopen the café, while other sympathetic uses of the station are currently being investigated.
The DRA’s current facilities will be maintained and we are looking to enhance and increase their involvement at the station.
Questions & answers
Did you know?
This year is the 150th anniversary of the railway first arriving in Okehampton in 1871. It is also the 70th anniversary of the creation of Dartmoor National Park.
The Dartmoor Line will be the first branch line opened for regular passenger services on Network Rail’s Western Route (the GWR network in England) since the Heathrow line opened in 1998!
It will be the longest line opened for regular passenger services in Devon and Cornwall for nearly 100 years, since the North Devon & Cornwall Junction Railway was opened between Torrington and Halwill in 1925.
The only other line opening in Devon and Cornwall between then and now was a short stretch between Falmouth Town and Falmouth Docks station in 1975.
Keep up to date with developments including the latest photos and videos.
Read the story of rail services to Dartmoor and of Okehampton station, opened in 1871.
How to get in touch with media enquiries.