Wednesday 11 Jan 2017
Residents’ chance to help shape the future of increasingly popular railway line
Network Rail is urging residents in Devon to have their say about the future of the Tarka Line, which links Barnstaple, Crediton and Exeter.
The Tarka Line is one of fastest growing lines in Network Rail’s Western region with 670,000 passengers travelling on it annually, an increase of 165% compared to ten years ago.
More trains, more seats and improved coaches are already planned over the next three years, with a full weekday hourly service being introduced in December 2018. The refurbished trains will also have air-conditioning as well as on-train wifi from summer 2018.
Network Rail has joined forces with GWR and partners Tarka Line Association, North District Council, Devon County and the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership to form a North Devon Line Strategy Group which will look to shape the future of the line.
David Northey, senior strategic planner at Network Rail, said: “In order to understand the needs of the community and what part this line can play in shaping the future of the area, we would like to hear from both users and non-users of the railway as well as those that use Tiverton Parkway or another station in preference to the one most local to them.
“It’s vital that we engage with the communities in North Devon, Torridge and Mid Devon to understand the educational, commuting, business and leisure needs and how the railway could play a part in these activities.”
Peter Heaton-Jones MP for North Devon said: “I urge all local residents to take part in this important consultation. The railway line linking Barnstaple with Exeter is a vital part of North Devon’s infrastructure. It’s clear we need investment to provide a faster and more regular service, with new trains to accommodate the huge growth in passenger numbers. I’m working with Network Rail, the train operators and the government on future plans for the line, and this consultation is a great opportunity to ensure the community gets its voice heard.”
North Devon Council Executive Member for Regeneration, Councillor Pat Barker, said: “The Tarka Line is a vital piece of transport infrastructure that supports the North Devon economy. Since 2001 there has been an increase of over 300% in ticket sales proving how vital it is. We are excited to be working with Network Rail, GWR and other stakeholders to secure more significant investment in the line.”
Dan Okey, Regional Development Manager (West) for Great Western Railway, said: “Great Western Railway is proud to support the communities we serve. The Barnstaple – Exeter Line has been a huge success over the last ten to fifteen years and further big improvements are planned from December 2018. The results of this survey will help direct all our efforts in making the best of these improvements and to look to the future in terms of what should be the next steps for the line.”
Richard Burningham, Manager of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, which works to promote the Tarka Line and other branch lines across the two counties, said: “I hope we get a lot of people taking part in the survey. We’re looking to get a very good range of views from across North Devon and along the line and people taking just a few minutes to complete the survey will be a big help in the future development of the Tarka Line.”
Residents are invited to have their say by completing an online survey at www.northdevonsurvey.com with hard copies of the survey are also available in Barnstaple at the train station and library and in Crediton at the station tea room and library. The survey is open to residents until the end of January.
The survey is aimed at residents in North Devon, Torridge and Mid Devon as well the two large national parks of Exmoor and Dartmoor which attracts a huge amount of tourist annually, and all are within easy reach of the railway.
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.