Okehampton railway station

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Okehampton National Rail
Footbridge at Okehampton railway station (John Spivey).jpg
Location
PlaceOkehampton
Local authorityWest Devon, Devon
Coordinates50°43′57″N 3°59′47″W / 50.73244°N 3.99632°W / 50.73244; -3.99632Coordinates: 50°43′57″N 3°59′47″W / 50.73244°N 3.99632°W / 50.73244; -3.99632
Grid referenceSX592944
Operations
Station codeOKE
Number of platforms3
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2013/14Decrease 3,208
2014/15Decrease 2,984
2015/16Increase 3,036
2016/17Increase 5,926
2017/18Decrease 5,000
History
Original companyLondon and South Western Railway
Post-groupingSouthern Railway
1871Opened
1972Closed
1997Re-opened
National RailUK railway stations
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Okehampton from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.

Okehampton railway station is a railway station serving the town of Okehampton in Devon, England. Heritage train services currently operate on certain weekdays, weekends and bank holidays. A service from Exeter operates on summer Sundays as part of the Dartmoor Sunday Rover network.

History[edit]

Okehampton station looking towards Tavistock and Meldon Quarry in July 1969. The Exeter train is 'running round' in the distance.

The station opened in 1871 when the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) extended its line from Sampford Courtenay. Services were extended further west to Lydford railway station with the inauguration of Meldon Viaduct in 1874.[1] Constructed to rival the South Devon Railway route to Plymouth, the completion of the LSWR's own route to Plymouth saw Okehampton become an important junction with lines to Padstow and Bude as well as Plymouth. Boat trains carrying passengers from ocean liners calling at Stonehouse Pool, Plymouth and prestige services such as the Atlantic Coast Express and Devon Belle all used the route.

A ticket from Exeter to Okehampton. 1969.

With the publication of the Beeching Report in 1963, the line to Bude was put forward for closure as was part of the Exeter to Plymouth Line which was to be cut back to Okehampton.[1] The local press were surprised at this decision, since many small towns had their railway services cut, yet Okehampton survived with a population under 4,000. Its survival prompted questions as to why the line should remain open when others, such as the Avocet Line which saw far more traffic, were proposed for closure. It was said that at the time Okehampton had about 50 regular users per day and a handful of season ticket holders.[2]

The Avocet Line was saved from closure, but Okehampton lost its passenger services from 1972. The line survived, however, for the purposes of freight thanks to the activities of the British Rail ballast quarry at Meldon, three miles from Okehampton,[1] which had an output of 300,000 tons per year.[3] The line to the quarry closed in 2011.[1]

Reopening[edit]

Okehampton station with a Sunday train in 2017

As part of a local partnership scheme initiated and led by Devon County Council, Okehampton station was re-opened in 1997 and a Youth Hostel opened in the old goods shed, providing an activity centre as well.[4] The Devon Coast to Coast Cycleway Route 27 created by Sustrans passes the station.

The Granite Way cyclepath runs alongside the railway to Meldon and along parts of the disused railway trackbed to Lydford. The Dartmoor Railway operate heritage passenger services from the station, running to Sampford Courtenay and Meldon. A summer Sunday service from Exeter to Okehampton operates as part of the Dartmoor Sunday Rover network. The station building, which was used by Devon Training for Skills after 1972, was restored and reopened incorporating a model shop and café. After temporary closure during a change in railway ownership in 2008, the cafe was reopened by the Friends of Dartmoor Railway. It is currently open from 10:00 to 16:00 on Fridays and 09:00-17:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. A craft centre previously operated on one of the platforms. This now houses a small exhibition and museum showing the history of the railway and station. The Model Shop (now closed) was independently operated.[5]

Preceding station Heritage Railways  Heritage railways Following station
Sampford Courtenay   Dartmoor Railway   Meldon
National Rail National Rail
Sampford Courtenay   Great Western Railway
Dartmoor Line
Summer Sundays only
  Terminus
Disused railways
Terminus   British Rail Western Region
Bude Branch
  Maddaford Moor Halt
Sampford Courtenay   British Rail Western Region
Exeter to Plymouth Line
  Bridestowe

Future options[edit]

Both Railfuture and the former MP for Totnes, Anthony Steen,have proposed the reinstatement of the line between Okehampton and Bere Alston, thereby reconnecting the station with Plymouth.[6] The reopening of the link would restore the continuous circuit of railway linking the towns around Dartmoor. On 18 March 2008, Devon County Council backed a separate proposal by developers Kilbride Community Rail to construct 750 houses in Tavistock that included reopening part of this route from Bere Alston to a new railway station in Tavistock.[7]

It is argued that the line's reopening would provide an alternative route to Plymouth and the Cornish Main Line in the event of engineering work or storms on the sea wall near Dawlish, although that would entail a reversal at Plymouth for trains continuing to Cornwall. Reopening the line would also maintain rail links in the long-term should the line around Dawlish succumb to the sea, as it did on 5 February 2014. [8][9]

The Dartmoor Railway is proposing to restore the interchange at Yeoford where its line meets the Barnstaple to Exeter Tarka Line. The company is also looking to create a railhead at Okehampton which would serve the timber industry, and thereby eliminate 50,000 lorry journeys per year.[10]

British American Railway Services Ltd, a new company created by Iowa Pacific Holdings of Chicago, became the owner of the Dartmoor Railway on 4 September 2008. The company said it would develop freight, passenger and tourist services on the railway.[11]

In November 2017, the Government included the reopening of the line from Exeter to Okehampton as part of its plans to expand the network,[12][13] and a letter to local MPs from the secretary of state for transport, Chris Grayling, was sent out at the end of January 2018.[14]

Views of Okehampton station[edit]

References[edit]

Citations

  1. ^ a b c d Holland 2014, p. 20.
  2. ^ "Small railway station that survived axe now flourishes". Exeter Express and Echo. 15 October 2006. p. 4.
  3. ^ Thomas 1975, p. 103.
  4. ^ "YHA Okehampton". Matlock, Derbyshire: YHA. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  5. ^ Dartmoor Railway, News & Events
  6. ^ Western Morning News, "Rail line will be lost to the sea", 3 May 2006, p. 6.
  7. ^ Harris, Nigel (2008). "Taking trains back to Tavistock". Rail. Bauer (590): 40–45.
  8. ^ Western Morning News, "Alternative to coast rail line lacks support", 4 January 2006, p. 2.
  9. ^ "Devon and Cornwall storm causes 'devastation'". BBC News. 5 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  10. ^ Western Morning News, "£1.5m plan to expand moor railway", 8 June 2007, p. 34.
  11. ^ Heritage Railway, Pub. Heritage Railway Magazine. Issue 116, 2 October 2008 – 29 October 2008. P. 18.
  12. ^ Gye, Hugo (30 November 2017). "Old train lines will be reopened under new Government plans – so will this transform your commute?". The Sun.
  13. ^ "Connecting people: a strategic vision for rail". Department for Transport. November 2017.
  14. ^ French, Tom (30 January 2018). "Government prepares plans to introduce regular train services to Okehampton". Okehampton Times. Retrieved 31 January 2018.

Sources

  • Holland, Julian (2014) [2013]. Exploring Britain's Lost Railways. Times Books. ISBN 978-0-00-794172-8.
  • Thomas, David St. John (1975). A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: The West Country. David & Charles.

External links[edit]