OkeRAIL train the Royal Oke hits the national news!
OkeRAIL’s historic Royal Oke train service between Okehampton and London arrived just 30 minutes late in spite of the passengers having had to change trains at Exeter due to a technical problem with the line. Not only was it fixed by the time that they made their return trip in the evening but OkeRAIL found that what had started as a local news item was promoted to headline news on the BBC and other media.
Just before 8am Royal Oke pulled out of Okehampton bound for Crediton Exeter and London Paddington. However within a few minutes the carriage wheels developed track adhesion problems due to the lack of use of the track. Remarkably, GWR had a replacement train ready for us at Exeter so only minutes were added to the journey time.
There was an extraordinary family atmosphere on the train. People had come from all over the South West to join the train. They were going to London for an amazing range of reasons. Visits were made to the Shard, the Science Museum, the London Eye, Westminster, the David Hockney exhibition, long-lost relatives or to find out about orchids at Kew Gardens! All the sort of things that ordinary people expect to do routinely but currently seldom can if they live in North Devon or Cornwall as it can take up to 10 hours traveling by car and train.
Crucially interviews on the train revealed that many people would be using the restored service to get to work in Exeter and Bristol, get their children to Exeter College and of course to travel to London on business. (email firstname.lastname@example.org for quotes)
Once in London a delegation of OkeRail members supported by Mel Stride MP met the Under Secretary of State Paul Maynard who welcomed the train at Paddington. He indicated that he found the argument for the line reopening “compelling”.
Hundreds of passengers signed up to participate in signing petitions, seeing their MPs and pressurising their local councillors to get regular services running between Okehampton and Exeter once again. Moral of the tale? Don’t let’s wait another fifty years before running the next High Speed Train to London. Not only does the lack of regular trains spoil the track - it isolates communities and businesses in our region.
Overwhelming support for OkeRAIL’ s Public Consultation event at Charter Hall last Saturday
Over 250 people attended the first OkeRAIL Public Consultation event – including our MP Mel Stride, the Mayors of both Okehampton and Hatherleigh - and attendees from all over the West Devon and North Cornwall!
Not only were attendees able record their support, see possible future plans for an additional Okehampton Parkway station but crucially have a real feel for how imminent the OkeRAIL restoration project really is.
It will cost around just £1 million to fully restore Okehampton to Exeter services. In four years we could have viable, regular services running again.
Surveys conducted at the event indicated that almost 60% of attendees would use the service on a daily basis – with 27% going on from Exeter to London and beyond.
Additionally the overwhelming conclusion of the event was that the service would not only transform Okehampton but all our principle towns of Launceston, Crediton, Tavistock and to the North, Holsworthy and Bude.
Richard Wolfenden-Brown of The Bude & Holsworthy Railway Action Group commented ‘the main surprise is that the line to Okehampton did not reopen years ago. It just seems the obvious thing to happen for so many reasons and the new group in Bude and Holsworthy will do all we can to help our colleagues in the Okehampton area to get the line open with all speed.
Does this mark the end of 50 years of neglect and abuse of Okehampton rail links?
It is up to us.
The OkeRail exhibition is turning into a ‘Railshow’ for the region. There will be events at Crediton, Tavistock, Launceston Bude and many others.
What can you do?
Support the crowd funding, (over £3,660 has already been pledged) ‘like’ our Facebook page (OkeRAIL) write to your MPs , councillors and especially to County Hall in Exeter. We need urgency in our campaign!
For more please visit OkeRAIL on Facebook or www.okerail.2day.uk or Twitter or call Mike Davies 07771933718 Chair of OkeRail Forum