After reading about the Dawlish line yesterday, I asked Scott Mann’s research assistant about Okehampton/Tavistock, and here is what he said:
The Government has announced that it will support the return of regular services to Okehampton from Exeter, which I understand GWR are working on.
Regarding the return of a line to Tavistock via Okehampton, the Government currently has no plans to do this and is putting investment into Dawlish resilience, new signalling to allow more trains between Penzance and Plymouth, a refurbished sleeper service, modernised depots and other improvements which are listed in the attached letter from the Transport Secretary.
A few years ago Devon County Council commissioned a report by Jacobs to look at a new line to Tavistock, which concluded that there would need to be over 25,000 new homes in nearby communities to ensure that the line had a sustainable number of users. Such a line would indeed be a great connection for North Cornwall, although in terms of travel times, it would be no faster (if not longer) than driving direct to Exeter St David’s.
Unfortunately, a bus journey is also quite long at the moment (about 2 hours from Bude to Exeter St David’s). Hopefully, we can get some progress on securing more direct and faster bus routes so that people can get to St David’s in good time. If regular train services are restored to Okehampton, then Bude residents would just need to get a bus down to Okehampton which takes about 1 hour. This is also something we should look at speeding up.