I am delighted that the Prime Minister has announced the Government has approved the reopening of the Tavistock to Plymouth Railway line with a new station to be built in Tavistock.
This project has been developed over many years, with discussions starting in 2005 and West Devon Borough Council (WDBC) giving its support for a new Railway Station in Tavistock to serve a reopened line in its Core Strategy of 2011. In July 2014, Devon County Council’s (DCC) Cabinet Committee approved the scheme to be taken through the development consent process and to develop a network of trails linking Tavistock to the Tamar Trails Centre. In 2019, I strongly supported the inclusion in the Conservative Manifesto of the pledge to set up a fund for reopening some branch lines closed in the 1960s after the Beeching Report. In January 2020, the Government announced the creation of a £500 million “Restoring Your Railway” Fund for that purpose.
This has been a long-held ambition for which many of us have fought for many years. My thanks to all those who have helped in this fight. This news follows the reopening of the Dartmoor Line, closed in 1968, represents £40.5 million of government funding and the construction of a new Railway station and transport hub at Okehampton, £13.4 million. The investment is the result of our winning Levelling Up bid. It will revolutionise transport communications in and for West Devon and the benefits to our communities will be huge.
In October 2021, we persuaded the Chancellor to grant £50,000 to help prepare the Strategic Business Case for the Secretary of State, which was submitted to him in December 2022. Throughout all this time, we have had to keep up a constant and determined dialogue with the Government to press the case for this link as well as the reopening of the Dartmoor Line from Okehampton to Exeter. Since December last year, while we have awaited the verdict, I have maintained close contact with transport ministers, and it is a source of great satisfaction on behalf of all those who have worked so hard for this outcome, that the minister confirmed to me the Government will finance the reinstatement of this line.
The Minister’s letter to me and that of the CEO of WDBC can be found above. I am deeply grateful to all those who have helped in the campaign to get this decision over the line, including the Peninsula Rail Group, DCC and WDBC under successive leaders, who had the foresight in 2011 to begin to plan for it. I shall be meeting Network Rail as soon as possible to discuss the next stages of the project.
My father used to recall travelling to school by train to Tavistock during the war, so I am delighted that trains will run once again to our town for the first time since 1968!