Reopened Dartmoor line carries quarter of a million

A line in Devon between Exeter and Okehampton has carried its first 250,000 passengers just over a year since regular passenger services were restarted, having been withdrawn in 1972. Rail minister Huw Merriman visited Okehampton to unveil a plaque marking the official reopening of the station building, which has gained a café, Dartmoor National Park information centre, a shop, toilets, retro-style waiting room and a museum. The service began running on 20 November last year, and the frequency of trains was doubled to hourly in the spring. Transport campaigners are continuing to press for the line beyond Okehampton around the northern side of Dartmoor to Tavistock and the existing terminus at Bere Alston to be rebuilt, which would restore a second route between Exeter and Plymouth.

Contracts rethink ++ The recently-formed lobbying group for operators, Rail Partners, has claimed that private sector expertise is ‘vital’ to help rail’s recovery and start to close the gap in industry finances. It said research carried out by independent economic analysts Oxera shows that the Treasury could earn another £1.6 billion over two years if ‘restrictive contracts’ for operators were eased. It has published a new report, ‘Fork in the tracks: attracting customers back to the railway’, which argues that the contractual system which supported the railway through the Covid crisis now needs to evolve.

Accessible station ++ A new, fully accessible station is set to open in Morley next summer, which will be able to accommodate longer trains as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade. The new, remodelled station, on the south-western side of Leeds, is being built 75 metres away from the existing station, which has been able to stay open during the work. The project will include electrification.