The Dartmoor Line between Exeter, Crediton and Okehampton reopened in November 2021 – the first line to do so as part of the government’s “Restoring Your Railway” initiative.
The reopening was the result of years of hard work and campaigning. It was a true team effort bringing together the local community, Devon County Council, GWR, Network Rail and many other partners. We have been proud to play our part in helping to revive the line – which went without a regular, year-round passenger service for nearly 50 years after its closure in 1972.
Since the return of the initial two-hourly service, the line has gone from strength to strength.
In May 2022, the service was doubled to provide hourly trains. Later the same year, Okehampton station building opened with its cafe, Dartmoor National Park visitor centre, Dartmoor Railway Association shop, heritage booking hall, waiting room and more.
In November 2022, Rail Minister Huw Merriman visited to celebrate more than quarter of a million journeys made in the Dartmoor Line’s first year.
And in early 2023 the government announced Levelling Up funding for a brand new station, Okehampton Parkway, which will serve the east of the town as well as providing easy access from the A30.
The Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership develops the line by:
As an important part of the communications for the reopening project, we were asked by the project partners to build and manage the official Dartmoor Line website. The site was a great tool to showcase behind-the-scenes photos and videos of the fantastic work to lay over 11 miles of track to prepare the line for reopening, allowing us to keep the local community up to date every step of the way.
We promote travel on the Dartmoor Line on our social media channels and in local newspaper adverts, and have collaborated with GWR to distribute their guide to the Dartmoor Line to households across a wide catchment area. We have also produced videos to highlight rail-bus integration at Okehampton station:
Okehampton station has been lovingly restored as part of the reopening of the line. Network Rail restored the fabric of the station and the station canopy while GWR led the main internal works on the building. By agreement with GWR, the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, working closely with the Dartmoor Railway Association and Dartmoor National Park, led the work on the signage and fitting out of most of the rooms in the main building.
Funding for the signage and fitting out of these rooms came from GWR’s Community Rail Major Project Fund, the Railway Heritage Trust and the Community Rail Development Fund, a joint initiative of the Department of Transport and the Community Rail Network.
Find out more and see photos.
We have worked with the local community at all levels – from helping advise the OkeRail forum and working with the Dartmoor Railway Association, to organising taster trips for local schools to introduce the next generation to their railway.
In September 2022, we helped organise a Destination Dartmoor day of creativity and heritage at Okehampton station, including historical tours of the station, nature walks, vintage photography, music-making and more.
On behalf of the project partners we built and continue to manage the official Dartmoor Line website.
Formed in 2015, the OkeRail forum is made up of a range of stakeholders and has played a key role in the return of the Dartmoor Line – presenting a unified voice from the community to champion the return of their railway.
The tireless efforts over many years of the volunteers from the DRA have been crucial to the success story of the Dartmoor Line and of Okehampton station. Find out more on their website.