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November 17, 2021

Dartmoor Line becomes operational after five decades

The Dartmoor Line, which connects Okehampton to Exeter, has been transformed in a span of nine months.

The Dartmoor Line in England has been reopened after more than 50 years, with the dispatch of the first passenger train.

From 20 November, the route, which connects Okehampton to Exeter, will officially resume regular year-round, all-week passenger services.

With the involvement of the Department for Transport (DfT), Network Rail and Great Western Railway (GWR), the line has been restored through more than $53.83m (£40m) of government investment from the ‘Restoring your Railway’ programme.

The Dartmoor Line has been improved in a span of nine months by using the application of Rail Project SPEED approaches, since confirmation of funding.

As of now, the service will be provided every two hours. From next year, plans are on to extend this to hourly operations.

After regular services were stopped in 1972, the route has only been in operation on some Sundays in summer since 1997.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Improving transport links is essential to levelling up and spreading opportunity across the country, which is why we are driving forward our pledge to reverse the Beeching cuts in Devon today.

“As we reopen the Dartmoor Line, we are rightly reconnecting communities, giving passengers the chance to choose rail over the road and travel from Exeter to Okehampton on greener, cleaner modes of transport.”

Under the restoration project, a team of engineers from Network Rail laid 17.7km of new track and deployed 24,000 concrete sleepers, along with 29,000 tonnes of ballast.

They also carried out repair works on 21 structures along the line, including four bridges.

Introduced in January 2020, the Restoring Your Railway Fund aims to reinstate dismissed local services and closed stations.

Last month, Network Rail concluded a 25km Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone flight over dry land. This is claimed to be the longest distance covered for a civilian drone flight in the UK.

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