The Riviera Line is one of the country’s best-loved railways, but hit the headlines in 2014 when it sustained devastating storm damage. Thanks to an EU-funded project led by the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, we helped the line to bounce back even stronger than before.
Our EU Citizens’ Rail project (2012-2015) enabled the Partnership to work in depth on the Exeter-Paignton line for the first time. Funding from the Interreg IVB NWE programme, Devon County Council, Torbay Council and Great Western Railway (GWR) helped deliver additional services, station improvements, community engagement and a sustained marketing campaign for the line. This helped the line to rapidly recover from its eight-week closure in early 2014. In the year from October 2014 to October 2015, 3 million journeys were made on the Riviera Line.
The Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership develops the line by:
During our Citizens’ Rail project, regular Riviera Line Forum meetings – with attendees representing more than 30 organisations – brought together the railway, local authorities, the health service, rail user groups and other community groups. The meetings provided a way to identify issues of concern and to agree work and project priorities.
The previously dormant Friends of Dawlish Station volunteer group has been rejuvenated as part of the Citizens’ Rail project, making headlines and even meeting the Prime Minister thanks to their green makeover of the station. A brand new sister group at Teignmouth followed, building on the fantastic gardening efforts of Great Western Railway staff. Next came the Friends of Exeter St Thomas – another new group buzzing with ideas, who have already created an eco garden at the station, with a host of other plans in the pipeline.
As part of the Citizens’ Rail project, a campaign was run to raise awareness of the line and promote great value days out by train. This included newspaper advertising, leaflets, online promotion and even a pair of eye-catching train liveries made possible by Great Western Railway – look out for them across the GWR network.
Through joint stalls with Travel Devon, our dedicated Riviera Line Officer promoted rail travel at events including Dawlish Air Show and Torbay Carnival. We also got more than 150 local consumer businesses involved, stocking leaflets and window stickers to promote the line.
One of the main aspects of the Citizens’ Rail project was the provision of additional services between Paignton, Torquay, Torre and Newton Abbot. These were launched in December 2013, and were accompanied by new shelters, benches and other improvements at target stations along the line. Particular investment was made at Exeter St Thomas and Torre, where use of the stations subsequently increased by 11% and 25% respectively.