Dartmoor Railway

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Coordinates: 50°43′55″N 3°59′46″W / 50.732°N 3.996°W / 50.732; -3.996

Dartmoor Railway
Okehampton Station 1.jpg
Okehampton railway station, on the Dartmoor Railway
Locale Devon, England
Commercial operations
Name British Rail
Built by London and South Western Railway
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Owned by Aggregate Industries Ltd
Operated by Dartmoor Railway CIC [1]
Length 15 12 miles (24.9 km)
Preserved gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
Opened 1865/1879
Closed 1968 (West of Meldon to all traffic) 1972 (to regular passenger services from Okehampton to Exeter)
Preservation history
1997 Regular passenger services restarted by Dartmoor Railway
Headquarters Okehampton
Dartmoor Railway
Tarka Line to Exeter
through services on summer Sundays
Salmon Pool Level Crossing
served by Tarka Line trains only
Coleford Junction
Tarka Line to Barnstaple
8½  Bow
11¾  North Tawton
14½  Sampford Courtenay
18¼  Okehampton
Meldon Viaduct/
Meldon Quarry
Meldon Viaduct
London & South Western Rly
to Padstow and Bude
to Plymouth via Bere Alston

The Dartmoor Railway is a 15 12-mile (24.9 km) long railway line in Devon, England. From Crediton the line parallels the Tarka Line to the site of the former Coleford Junction. Heading west, it then serves Sampford Courtenay, Okehampton and Meldon Quarry. The route from Coleford to Meldon is owned by Aggregate Industries, whilst the Coleford to Crediton section is owned by Network Rail. In the past freight trains served the ballast quarry at Meldon. The line is leased to and maintained by the Dartmoor Railway CIC,[1] who operate some services and facilitate access to the line by other operators.

Great Western Railway run a public service between Exeter and Okehamptonon summer Sundays. Ballast and stone trains were formerly operated by one of the national freight operating companies. In 2011 the quarry was mothballed, leading to the suspension of ballast and stone trains. The line is also used occasionally by other operators for training purposes,and is visited from time to time by main line charter services via the connection to the national network at Crediton.

The route was originally part of the London and South Western Railway's West of England Main Line (route from Exeter to Plymouth), which opened between 1865 and 1879. In 1968, British Rail closed the line beyond Meldon as part of the Beeching cuts. The Exeter to Okehampton passenger service was withdrawn by British Rail in 1972.

Between 1972 and 1997 the line was used for railway ballast traffic from Meldon Quarry and occasional freight traffic to the remaining goods yard at Okehampton before its closure. Occasional charter and special trains were operated to Okehampton and Meldon Quarry during the passenger closure period. The railway reopened to regular passenger services in 1997 with the formation of Dartmoor Railway. A summer Sunday passenger service was introduced from Exeter to Okehampton as part of the Dartmoor Rover network.[citation needed]

British American Railway Services Ltd, a company created by Iowa Pacific Holdings of Chicago, became the new owner of the Dartmoor Railway CIC on 4 September 2008. The company announced its intention to develop freight, passenger and tourist services on the railway.[2]

Volunteer support for the railway is provided by the Dartmoor Railway Supporters Association (DRSA). Volunteers assist the railway operation in many of its activities.[3]

A proposal was made in 2009 to restore and reopen the disused down platform at Yeoford and extend Dartmoor Railway services to terminate there. At the time it was not possible to agree arrangements with Network Rail, who own Yeoford Station and the section of line from near the site of the former Coleford Junction towards Yeoford and Crediton.[4] If this proposal were eventually achieved it could allow the extension of Dartmoor Railway passenger services and make interchange with Exeter - Barnstaple "Tarka line" trains possible.[citation needed]

Passenger volume[edit]

Passenger usage statistics relate only to the limited summer Sunday only National Rail services operated by Great Western Railway. They do not include the Heritage or Polar Express trains operated on the railway.

Heritage activities[edit]

Heritage services run between Meldon Quarry and Okehampton, extended to Sampford Courtenay, Bow or the DR/Network Rail boundary on special event days. The former stations at North Tawton and Bow remain closed to passengers. Both are in private ownership and have no public access.

The heritage services use a variety of rolling stock, including a Class 205 "Thumper" unit restored to its original livery and number. Services are also operated using restored diesel locomotives in push-pull trains and top and tail mode with a variety of coaching and ex-EMU stock. Steam-hauled services have also operated from time to time.

Public train services[edit]

Devon County Council continues to sponsor the Sunday Rover trains between Exeter and Okehampton. These have run since the 1997 reopening, and operated again in 2016 from mid-May to early September.

The service consists of four return trips between St James Park station in Exeter and Okehampton. These trains connect with bus services and heritage railway services at Okehampton, Tarka line rail services at Crediton and other national rail services at Exeter.

Devon & Cornwall Railways Ltd (a subsidiary of British American Railway Services Ltd) announced its intention to operate through services from Okehampton to Exeter in 2010, having made a track access application to Network Rail on 18 March 2010[5] to operate four return services each weekday between Okehampton and St James Park and a further two (plus one on Sundays) as far as Exeter St Davids. This service would have run under an "open access" licence. This was not realised, and the project is currently not being pursued.

At Christmas 2012 the railway ran the "Polar Express" based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg and the Warner Brothers film of the same name. Further Polar Express events ran in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Rolling Stock[edit]

Diesel Locomotives[edit]

Number and name Origin Wheel
Class Notes Photograph
08937 BR 0-6-0 Class 08 Operational.[6] -
47828 BR Co-Co Class 47 Operational.[7] -
68086 BR 0-4-0 Wickham trolley Operational.[8] -

Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU)[edit]

Number and name Origin Class Notes Photograph
BR 59520 DTCL British Rail Class 117 Operational.[9] -

Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU)[edit]

Number and name Origin Class Notes Photograph
BR Units 60146, 60673 and 60827 Set No 205028 (1128) British Rail Class 205 Unrestored.[10] -
BR Units 60150, 60677 and 60831 Set No 205031 (1132) British Rail Class 205 Restored, Out Of Service, 60677 not restored.[11] -

Electric Multiple Unit (EMU)[edit]

Origin Number and name Class Notes Photograph
BR Units 61743, 61742 Set No 1589 British Rail Class 411 4-Cep 61743 Operational, 61742 stored.[12] Blue-Grey
BR Unit 70273 Set No 1392 British Rail Class 411 4-Cep Undergoing Restoration.[13] -
BR Unit 76747, 62385, 70508 and 76818 Set No 1399 British Rail Class 421 4-Cig 76818 away at Eastleigh, 70508 a 4-CEP unit.[14] This unit will be scrapped for spares due to storage costs, MBSO 62385 will go to the 4-VOP unit 3905.[15] -
BR Unit 69332 Set No 2203 British Rail Class 421 4-Big Used as catering facility.[16] -
BR Unit 69310 Set No 7040 British Rail Class 421 4-Big Used as catering facility.[17] -
BR Unit 76397, 70904 and 76398 Set No 3905 British Rail Class 423 4-Vop Under Restoration, Will leave railway due to termination of lease.[citation needed] it will gain MBSO 62385 from 4-Cig unit 1399.[15] -
BR Unit 76277 Set No 8005 'The Rocket' British Rail Class 438 4-Tc Operational.[18] -


Origin Number Type Notes Photograph
British Railways S34249 MK.I Brake Corridor Second (Lab 11) Operational.[19]
British Railways 35327 MK.I Brake Corridor Second Operational.[20]
British Railways 13436 MK.II Corridor First Operational.[21]
British Railways 3411 MK.II Open First Stored,
British Railways 3419 MK.II Open First Stored,
British Railways 9501 MK.II Brake Open Second Stored,
British Railways 6181 MK.II Open Second Stored,
British Railways 5920 MK.II Tourist Second Open Stored,
British Railways 3387 MK.II Open First Stored,
British Railways 3353 MK.II Open First Stored,
British Railways 6002 MK.II Tourist Second Open Stored,
British Railways 10595 MK.III Convertible Sleeper Used as overnight sleeper
British Railways 10611 MK.III Convertible Sleeper Used as overnight sleeper
British Railways 10518 MK.III Convertible Sleeper Used as overnight sleeper

Wagons and other rolling stock[edit]

Origin Number Type Notes Photograph
British Railways 924848 4 wheel steel flatbed Operational
British Railways 726277 4 wheel steel open Dace Operational
British Railways 290133 4 wheel steel open Zander Operational
PO 999045 4 wheel Class B Fuel Tank Stored
British Railways 994xxx Bogie 3-plank Open Sturgeon A Operational
British Railways 992929 Dogfish 4w Steel Hopper Operational
British Railways 9983187 Dogfish 4w Steel Hopper Operational
British Railways 889022 Ferry Van Operational.[22]
Southern Railway LDS55625 Pillbox 4w Brake Van Under restoration.[23]
London, Midland and Scottish Railway 731411 4w Brake Van Operational.[24]
British Railways 96212 Mk 1 GUV Operational.[25]
British Railways 87554 Blue Spot Four wheel Fish Van Body only.[26]
British Railways 94691 Four-wheel CCT Stored.[27]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About the railway". Friends of Dartmoor Railway. Archived from the original on 22 March 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2009. 
  2. ^ Heritage Railway, Pub. Heritage Railway Magazine. Issue 116, 2 October 2008 - 29 October 2008. P. 18.
  3. ^ "Volunteers". Dartmoor Railway Supporters Association. Retrieved 25 March 2013.  Dartmoor Railway Supporters Association website Volunteers page
  4. ^ "News". Dartmoor Railway. Retrieved 2 October 2009.  Dartmoor Railway website Newspage
  5. ^ "Dartmoor Railway Applies to Run to Exeter" - Broadbent, S; RAIL Magazine news article, Issue 641, 7–20 April 2010, p.18
  6. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/sD4167
  7. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/s47828
  8. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/s68086
  9. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/s59520
  10. ^ http://www.cs.vintagecarriagestrust.org/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=5028
  11. ^ http://www.cs.vintagecarriagestrust.org/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=5079
  12. ^ http://www.cs.vintagecarriagestrust.org/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=3983
  13. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/s70273
  14. ^ http://www.400series.co.uk/?page_id=45
  15. ^ a b https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=684251745083710&id=135004650008425
  16. ^ http://www.cs.vintagecarriagestrust.org/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=4515
  17. ^ http://www.cs.vintagecarriagestrust.org/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=3413
  18. ^ http://www.cs.vintagecarriagestrust.org/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=5493
  19. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/slab11
  20. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/scourier
  21. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/sfk
  22. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/sFerry
  23. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/ssrgbv
  24. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/slmsgbv
  25. ^ http://www.dartmoor-railway-sa.org/sguv
  26. ^ http://www.cs.vintagecarriagestrust.org/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=5143
  27. ^ http://www.cs.vintagecarriagestrust.org/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=2183