The Royal Oke set to make history

Bit of a Devon theme today, folks, but some days are like that. Every time I drive to Tiverton Parkway (just short of 60 miles for me) to catch a national connection, I think of Beeching, and the railway infrastructure.

Every time I return to Tiverton and realise I still have a just short of 60 mile drive home (Exeter even further) I think about the same things yet again.

Last year I went to the Lizard and found stations on the main line at St Erth and Penzance. Seems crazy that I could live so far west and yet be less cut off than in North Cornwall/Devon.  Barnstaple has the Tarka line to Exeter, of course, and I always use that for a day out in the city. I digress…

It’s really brilliant that good people out there, willing to do the organising, the legwork, and the sheer slog, are campaigning to return the railway to our area. Bude would be best but, in the first instance, Okehampton would be a very good start. What a fantastic bunch of people OkeRail are, especially as they are now nicely linked with  Connect Bude.

So, I’m wanting to thank Annabel who gave me a link to the Exeter Express and Echo about the forthcoming OkeRail jolly jaunt to London return from Okehampton. Amazing and incredible.

Connect Bude  aims to work with OkeRail to achieve its core objectives:

  1. To campaign to reconnect Bude and Holsworthy to the National Rail Network initially via Okehampton.
  2. To promote an improved Rail service between Okehampton and Exeter and beyond.
  3. To ensure the trackbed of the former railway is protected against further development.
  4. To garner the widespread community support of individuals, elected representatives and businesses in order to achieve the first three objectives.

First off is a demonstration of the popularity of the line, as the Royak Oke makes its way to London Paddington on 18th March. The trip was quickly, and understandably, a sell out (and I hope people send me pictures!)

The OkeRail website says:

At 7.45am on 18th March, the Royal Oke, the first direct train to London for almost half a century will pull out of Okehampton Station. It will arrive at London Paddington just over 3 hours later. This will be the first time this has happened for 50 years. The same train will return in the evening at 6.05pm to reach Okehampton at 9.15pm.  You can also do the journey from both at Crediton and Exeter.

This remarkable achievement is down to the voluntary groups of OkeRAIL Forum and CIC. The whole undertaking has been underwritten by Okehampton United Charity.

Although OkeRAIL hope to run trains in future, the principle purpose of this event is to demonstrate that there is popular and commercial demand for the restoration of rail services to our region. They are crucial to the economic development of the region – and cheap and easy to reinstate as the line already exists. OkeRAIL aims to provide proof to the authorities of the massive demand and interest in our rail services – just as there has been in the revived Tarka line to Barnstaple.

Good luck and god speed.

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