Okehampton Ahead

On holiday in Devon, today I took a trip down to Okehampton, the first new railway to be re-opened under the government’s flagship “Restoring Your Railway” scheme. The Okehampton opening seems to have occurred much quicker than our beloved Ashington Blyth & Tyne (The Northumberland Line) re-opening to Ashington. It’s taken 8 years and just £40m to re-open the 15.5 miles of track, whereas the Ashington Blyth & Tyne Line campaign has been running for 17 years so far, and latest costs for the 18-mile route is £166m. Comparisons like this are interesting, but can be misleading. The £166m for the Northumberland Line additionally includes a further 5 intermediate stations, and a private company had been running summer weekend services on the line to Okehampton before the full re-opening. But the key take-away from my Okehampton visit was that the re-opening has clearly been designed with further extensions in mind. 2 platforms at Okehampton are retained even though at present passenger trains are only using 1 of them. (And just for anyone else who has visited, there are in fact 3 platforms at Okehampton, the third used as a museum, and the reverse numbering means all passenger services depart and arrive at platform 3!)


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