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Devon and Cornwall Reopenings

Reopening Proposals in Railfuture Devon and Cornwall branch area

Bideford to Exeter via Barnstaple

GPH:ACE Rail banner, outdoor - Tarka Rail Association and principal backers GPH:ACE Rail banner, indoor - Tarka Rail Association and Railfuture - network diagram (rev)
(to become a part of Devon Metro?)

Find out more via Tarka Rail Association and ACE Rail , follow / like / post, and register your support here for this award-winning campaign, affiliated to Railfuture and an integral part of the Tarka Rail Association (see letter of support) which is itself a member of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership.

Railfuture's national Awards for Rail User Groups
July 2023: TRA and its ACE Rail campaign win Gold for Best Social Media, TRA's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer wins a joint Gold for Best Campaigner, and the TRA's ACE Rail campaign wins a Bronze in the Best Campaign category. See Tim's full presentation. (To watch and listen to the videos in slides 8-10, see the entries below for 9th December 2022, 24th and 25th January 2023, respectively).
PHO-DNC:2023.07.15 - Gold Award for Best Social Media presented to Tim Steer for Tarka Rail Association and its ACE Rail campaign PHO-DNC:2023.07.15 - Gold Award for Best Campaigner presented to Tim Steer of Tarka Rail Association for its ACE Rail campaign PHO-DNC:2023.07.15 - Bronze Award for Best Campaign presented to Tim Steer of Tarka Rail Association for its ACE Rail campaign

July 2022 (below): TRA's ACE Rail campaign wins gold for Best New Group (left); Tarka Rail Association receives Commendation in Best Newsletter category (right). See RUG Awards 2022
PHO-DNC:2022.07.16 - Gold Award for Best New Group presented to Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign PHO-DNC:2022.07.16 - joint Commendation for Best Newsletter presented to Tarka Rail Association

Coming up .....

The story so far.....

Click on a Year: 2021 / 2022 / 2023 / 2024
2024
  • May - Devon CC consultation about bus-rail integration enhancements at Barnstaple rail station, opened on 22nd.
  • May - Railfuture on behalf of the Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance publishes the latest research on Devon's 'rail-mindedness' (station footfall per head of population) - by local authority, on the 10th. The North Devon (Tarka) Line's low figures (North Devon and Mid-Devon) still suggest substantial untapped potential despite record-breaking patronage growth.
  • May - Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport Councillor Andrea Davis announced as new Deputy Leader, on the 7th. "We want to continue what (outgoing Leader John Hart) he’s achieved and get devolution done. One of my priorities will be to get the upper tier authorities in the South West to work ever closer together as a region on transport. We’re up against the North and other big regions and we are a sparsely-populated peninsula. But we need to focus on what’s needed for this region to succeed and campaign for that with one voice." Andrea represents Combe Martin Rural Division, which stretches from the north boundary of Barnstaple to the north Devon coast at Lynton and Woolacombe (excluding Ilfracombe). See DCC news report.
  • April - "From railway legacy to community advocacy" - Tim Steer in his first article as North Devon Gazette's new columnist, on the 29th.
  • April - Railfuture on behalf of the Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance publishes research showing over 11% annual growth in journeys on the North Devon (Tarka) Line, as a table and as a chart, on the 19th.
  • April - Railfuture on behalf of the Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance publishes research showing passengers' principal destinations from the North Devon (Tarka) Line's four busiest stations in 2022-23, on the 18th.
  • April - "New partnership could help prioritise railway line revival" reports the North Devon Journal, on the 18th.
  • April - "Fresh moves to restore Devon rail link" reports Devon Live, on the 18th, following Torridge District Council's agreement to join the new Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance.
  • April - Barnstaple Town Council's Planning and Transportation Committee approved the Minutes of their 21st March meeting which recorded the address by Railfuture's national Director for Infrastructure & Networks, Roger Blake; see Minute 169 of the 18th.
  • April - "Key developments in Bideford's railway revival hopes" reported the North Devon Gazette, on the 12th.
  • April - "Rail link revival group gets backing" reported the North Devon Gazette, on the 10th, following Torridge District Council's agreement to join the new Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance.
  • April - "Bideford/Barnstaple rail link backed" reported Radio Exe in a Top News story, on the 9th, following Torridge District Council's agreement to join the new Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance.
  • April - Fremington Parish Council considered a Motion (item 10) to join the Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance, on the 8th. See Minute 2404/16.
  • April - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign project lead Tim Steer addressed the Full Council meeting, before Torridge District Council agreed the Motion (item 14b) to join the Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance, on the 8th. See draft Minutes 268 on page 2 and 281 on pages 8-9.
  • April - "On track for a prosperous future with new rail alliance" - headlines the North Devon Journal, on the 4th. See the full report: "Rail line is most successful for GWR and alliance can help aid growth".
  • April - "New Devon rail link could radically transform deprived town" - illustrated coverage of the inaugural event of the newly-founded Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance in Devon Live, on the 2nd.
  • March - Fremington Parish Council's Environment & Community Committee heard a report from Cllr Dixon of his meeting on the 22nd with Railfuture's national Director for Infrastructure & Networks, Roger Blake, on the 28th; see Minute 2403/33.
  • March - a bid to Great Western Railway's Customer & Community Improvement Fund for 2024/25 was submitted on behalf of the new Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance, on the 25th.
  • March - Tarka Rail Association co-Vice Chair and ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer is interviewed about the new Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance and recent Community Rail Awards on The Voice FM, on the 25th.
  • March - public consultation on the planned Devon and Torbay Devolution Deal - with implications for transport planning - closes on Sunday the 24th; see Railfuture's Devon & Cornwall regional branch response.
  • March - "New alliance is formed to fight for rail upgrade" - the newly-founded Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance's inaugural event is reported in the North Devon Journal, on the 22nd.
  • March - Railfuture's national Director for Infrastructure & Networks, Roger Blake, had the opportunity to address Barnstaple Town Council's Planning and Transportation Committee, on the 21st; see Minute 156.
  • March - the inaugural event of the newly-founded Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance is reported in RAIL magazine, on the 20th.
  • March - Railfuture's national Infrastructure & Networks Director Roger Blake is interviewed about the new Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance on BBC Radio Devon, on the 15th.
  • March - the newly-founded Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance's inaugural event is reported in Rail User Express (page 2), published on the 12th.
  • March - "Major step forward in creation of new Devon rail link" - the inaugural event of the newly-founded Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance is reported in Devon Live, on the 10th.
  • March - "North Devon railway alliance launched to restore historic rail link" - last Friday's inaugural event for the Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance is reported in the North Devon Gazette, on the 5th.
  • March - "New North Devon Railway Development Alliance is formed" - next media report in Rail Advent, on the 2nd.
  • March - "Big plans for North Devon rail as The Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance is launched"- first blog about the inaugural event from Chime Whistle Publishing, also on the 1st.
  • March - "Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance launched to push for new rail link" - the Crediton Courier (includes two short videos) is first to make use of our press release, on the 1st.
  • March - the inaugural event of the newly-founded Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance, initiated by Bideford Town Council on 7th December 2023 and joined by Railfuture on the 9th, Tarka Rail Association on the 12th and by Barnstaple Town Council on 22nd January 2024, was held for invited stakeholder representatives on Friday 1st. See submitted statements from four absentees, and Railfuture's press release.
  • February - Bideford Town Council, as the first founder member, agreed unanimously to make a contribution to the cost of the inaugural event, to be held the following day, for the Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance. See Minute 128a. The meeting had begun with a minute's silence for Councillor Peter Christie who had recently passed away, and a member of the public (Bideford Railway Heritage Centre Director and Tarka Rail Association ACE Rail project campaign lead Tim Steer) paid homage - see Minute 123 and obituary.
  • February - Fremington Parish Council's meeting of its Environment & Community Committee received an update Minute 2402/30 from former Councillor Tim Steer, on the 29th. See oral report. As a result, they appointed the Parish Council's representative for the new Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance.
  • February - Northam Town Council meeting on Wednesday 28th agreed a proposal that the Council become a member of the new Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance. See Agenda item 12.
  • February - Railfuture's latest quarterly magazine Railwatch - to be published officially on the 13th March - features progress with a variety of rail development campaigns in the South West, including the new Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance, in its report from Devon & Cornwall on page 19 of the April issue, published online on the 28th.
  • February - GWR launched their Customer and Community Improvement Fund for 2024/25 on the 26th. Expect a bid to be submitted by 25th March to take development of the ACE Rail project a further step!
  • February - Railfuture Devon & Cornwall, with Severnside, responded to sub-national transport body Peninsula Transport's public consultation on its draft Transport Strategy Strategic Transport Priorities to 2050 on the 5th. See Rf-D&C+Sev
  • January - Barnstaple Town Council meeting on the 22nd "received and considered" (and agreed) "a Motion for Barnstaple Town Council to join the Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance." See draft Minute 107 (was Agenda item 11).
  • January - Torridge District Council meeting on the 22nd received the report of the Economic Development Manager on Shared Prosperity Fund investment plan review 2024/25 and agreed the recommendation for £105k for three feasibility studies, including Bideford railway study (to work alongside other key stakeholders). See draft Minute 231 (was Agenda item 10).
  • January - Railfuture with the Tarka Rail Association publish latest data, on the 18th, for annual journeys on the North Devon (Tarka) Line, showing a further 10.3% increase in 2023 over and above the previous year's all-time record. See table and chart.
  • January - Railfuture with the Tarka Rail Association publish further research, on the 15th, demonstrating from ORR figures that North Devon (Tarka) Line had the highest percentage full one-year growth for stations usage of all lines across all Devon and Cornwall, at 32%. See table and chart (Dartmoor Line excluded from chart as 2021-22 not comparable as neither a full year nor hourly service).
2023
  • December - Railfuture publishes a Railwatch Devon & Cornwall portfolio for 2023, on the 31st.
  • December - Railfuture publishes new research, on the 30th, illustrating extent of growth in station usage of 14 busiest stations in the Peninsula Transport region in 2022-23, Barnstaple exceeding half-a-million footfall for the first time ever and achieving the second-highest percentage one-year growth of 27%. See table and chart.
  • December - "Devon's Tarka rail line breaks passenger records" said the BBC News article, on the same day that an interview with Tarka Rail Association co-Vice Chairs David Northey and Tim Steer at Barnstaple station was broadcast by BBC Spotlight, on the 23rd.
  • December - Bideford Railway Heritage Centre publishes its latest magazine, including a 4-page article from Director Tim Steer in ACE no.104 for Winter 2023, on the 20th.
  • December - the peripherality of Barnstaple at the end of the North Devon (Tarka) Line is illustrated in this new chart from the Tarka Rail Association with Railfuture, comparing distances achievable from Exeter St. David's in 45-minute and 70-minute rail journeys, published on the 18th here.
  • December - the volume and scale of increased use of the North Devon (Tarka) Line's four busiest stations is illustrated in this chart, published by Tarka Rail Association with Railfuture, here, on the 16th.
  • December - the day after the Office of Rail & Road published the annual nation-wide station usage estimates for 2022/23, Tarka Rail Association with Railfuture published a chart illustrating the enormous growth in footfall at the North Devon (Tarka) Line's 12 stations, on the 15th, here. Eight of the 12 set new all-time usage records!
  • December - Railfuture affiliated member Tarka Rail Association issues press release on Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance, on the 12th.
  • December - Torridge District Council considered responses to the draft Strategic Plan consultation and, on the 11th, agreed a final Strategic Plan for 2024-29 which includes this phrase within the Local Economy theme: Investigate with the relevant partner organisations (North Devon Council, DCC, ACE Rail and Network Rail) the appetite to jointly commission and fund a study to evaluate the economic and environmental benefits and impacts of re-establishing the rail link. See item 214 with additional document 14c Appendix 3.
  • December - sub-national transport body Peninsula Transport opens public consultation on its draft Transport Strategy Strategic Transport Priorities to 2050 on the 11th, until 5th February 2024.
  • December - Railfuture's national Board of Directors agreed, on the 9th, to follow Bideford Town Council's lead with #Reconnection2040 and commit to the Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance as another founder member.
  • December - the Joint Planning Policy Committee for Torridge and North Devon District Councils heard an oral report at its meeting on "Local Plan update - next steps" - see Agenda item 10 on the 8th.
  • December - Bideford Town Council passed this Motion at its meeting on the 7th: "That this Council joins the Northern Devon Railway Development Alliance as a founding member" - Agenda item 16 referred to this enclosed document; see Minute 98.
  • December - sub-national transport body Peninsula Transport decided, on the 6th, to commence public consultation on its Transport Strategy Strategic Transport Priorities to 2050 on the 11th, until 5th February 2024.
  • December - Railfuture affiliated member Tarka Rail Association issues press release on Rail Strategy published by Peninsula Transport, on the 5th.
  • November - sub-national transport body Peninsula Transport published its Rail Strategy, on the 30th.
  • November - Railfuture's latest quarterly magazine Railwatch - to be published officially on the 6th December - again features the Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project, and progress with other rail development campaigns in the South West, in its report from Devon & Cornwall on page 19 of the December issue, published online on the 27th.
  • November - North Devon District Council adopted the recommendation to reverse a previous decision and has now committed to a comprehensive, not partial, joint review and update for the new People and Place Local Plan, to align with Torridge District Council's position; see Agenda item 13 and draft Minute 69. A partial review would have excluded considerations of infrastructure and transport.
  • November - latest analysis yet again reveals all-time record-breaking journeys taken on the Tarka Line, in the first eleven 4-week periods of 2023 exceeding 600k for the first time ever, according to research published by Railfuture on the 22nd.
  • November - Tarka Rail Association sends a supplementary response to Torridge District Council for the public consultation on its draft Strategic Plan 2023-28, on the 10th; see submission.
  • November - again in collaboration with Tarka Rail Association, Railfuture Devon & Cornwall regional branch sends a supplementary response to Torridge District Council for the public consultation on its draft Strategic Plan 2023-28, on the 8th; see submission.
  • October - at the Bideford Town Council meeting TRA Vice-Chair and ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer gave this briefing, on the 26th, and as recorded in the draft Minutes published 16th November.
  • October - Tarka Rail Association responds to Torridge District Council's public consultation on its draft Strategic Plan 2023-28, on the 23rd; see submission.
  • October - Railfuture publishes latest research on sustained long-term growth of Tarka Line journeys, on the 16th. Calendar years in 2001 then 2006 to 2022, and financial years 2009/10 to 2022/23.
  • October - in collaboration with Tarka Rail Association, Railfuture Devon & Cornwall regional branch responds to Torridge District Council's public consultation on its draft Strategic Plan 2023-28, on the 14th; see submission.
  • October - latest analysis reveals all-time record-breaking journeys taken on the Tarka Line in the first nine 4-week periods of 2023, exceeding 500k for the first time ever according to research published by Railfuture on the 10th.
  • October - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead, and a director of Bideford Railway Heritage Centre, Tim Steer addresses Full Council meeting of Torridge District Council considering their Strategic Plan 2023-28 prior to public consultation, on the 2nd. Watch 09:08-12:10 and see text of speech.
  • September - Tarka Rail Association was one of six campaign groups from Devon and Cornwall participating in Railfuture's regional branch meeting which included Tim Steer giving a brief presentation about the ACE Rail campaign, on the 30th. (To watch and listen to the videos in slides 5 and 6 of the presentation, see the entries below for 9th December 2022 and 25th January 2023, respectively).
  • September - Railfuture's latest quarterly magazine Railwatch - officially published on the 29th - again features the Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project, and many other rail development successes in the South West, in its report from Devon & Cornwall on page 19 of the October issue, published online on the 24th.
  • September - Tarka Rail Association Vice-Chair Tim Steer was invited by the Mayor of Barnstaple Cllr. Louisa York to the annual Fair Proclamation, on the 13th, for the Toast to The Prosperity of Barnstaple response.
  • September - at GWR's annual Community Rail and Stakeholder Conference, on the 13th, Transport Integration Manager Luke Farley showed this short film David Northey's Great Trains and Bus Journeys featuring the hourly Tarka Line service from Exeter and onwards via the new connecting hourly bus link 301 with Ilfracombe and Combe Martin.
  • September - latest analysis reveals 40k more journeys taken on Tarka Line in first eight 4-week periods of 2023 compared with same, pre-pandemic, period in 2019, setting yet another new record, according to research published by Railfuture on the 7th.
  • September - Railfuture's Devon & Cornwall regional branch publishes its latest newsletter, with references to July's Rail User Group Awards on page 3 and a North Devon and Bideford report by Tim Steer on pages 14-15.
  • August - Tarka Rail Association responds to key parts of Office of Rail & Road consultation on its draft determination for Network Rail's Strategic Business Plan for Control Period 7, 2024-29, on the 31st here.
  • August - another Bank Holiday Monday brings another reference to Bideford's former station, now home to the Railway Heritage Centre, on his Channel 5 morning tv programme by BRHC member Jeremy Vine, following his latest return visit on the 23rd. Watch his 2:13 clip "Time to finally get inside one of the carriages and enjoy Carol's coffee - at Bideford Railway Heritage Centre - with update from Lewis Andrews".
  • August - September issue of Modern Railways - joint letter Tarka Line potential by Tim Steer (ACE Rail, TRA) and Roger Blake (Railfuture).
  • August - RAIL magazine has a letter "Lines could have been saved...and it's not too late" in issue 990, published on the 23rd: read letter.
  • August - Railfuture's monthly newsletter for rail user groups Rail User Express highlights the recent Awards won by Tarka Rail Association and its ACE Rail campaign (and Dartmoor Railway Association and Devon County Council), on page 5, published on the 14th.
  • August - "Devon County Council wins rail service award" - a liberally-illustrated article in Devon Live about all five Awards won by three Devon organisations in Railfuture's 2023 Awards for Rail User Groups, including the Tarka Rail Association and its ACE Rail campaign, on the 8th.
  • August - at the invitation of the Mayor of Bideford, Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer addressed a meeting of Bideford Town Council to share an initial summary of some of the key findings and recommendations emerging from the Initial Business Case for the Torridge & North Devon Connectivity Programme, commissioned by the Association with support from Railfuture's Fighting Fund and GWR's Customer and Community Improvement Fund, on the 3rd (N.B. not all of prepared speech actually delivered). See Minutes 45 and 50 (full briefing reproduced at end).
  • July - latest analysis reveals 11.5% increase in journeys taken on Tarka Line in first seven months of 2023 compared with same, pre-pandemic, period in 2019, published by Railfuture on the 31st.
  • July - the Tarka Rail Association publishes the eighth edition of its poster Station News for display in all 12 Tarka Line station noticeboards, on the 29th.
  • July - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign and Bideford Railway Heritage Centre had a joint stall at Barnstaple Model Railway Club's exhibition, on the 29th.
  • July - the August issue of Modern Railways has a Special Report - In Focus: Great Western, published on the 27th. It features an interview with GWR's MD Mark Hopwood CBE headed "GWR seeks opportunities to grow" - see "Barnstaple options."
  • July - at Barnstaple Town Council "The Mayor reported the following: - Tim Steer, Town Centre Ranger and local rail campaigner has been awarded the Best Campaigner and best Social Media awards the Railfuture Rail User National Awards at the University of London, earlier this month. At the same ceremony Devon County Council also received a special award for rail development and public transport." See Mayor's announcements, on the 24th.
  • July - bus service 301 (between Barnstaple rail station and Ilfracombe and Combe Martin, via the North Devon District Hospital) had a major frequency uplift from the 24th.
  • July - "Devon scooped most awards at national Railfuture ceremony" said the Crediton Courier, the Okehampton Times the Tavistock Times Gazette, the Tamar Valley Times, and the Totnes Times, all on the 21st, highlighting the three awards won by the Tarka Rail Association, its ACE Rail campaign, and its campaign lead Tim Steer.
  • July - Railfuture rewards Tarka Rail Association, its ACE Rail campaign and the ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer with awards in the annual Rail User Group Awards for 2023, presented by Hon. President Christian Wolmar after the national AGM in London, on the 15th.
  • Summer issue of Atlantic Coast Express - the magazine of Bideford Railway Heritage Centre CIC includes another 4-page update on the ACE Rail campaign under this headline: "Swindon (GWR base), we have a problem." See ACE 103.
  • June - Railfuture's latest quarterly magazine Railwatch - officially published on the 19th - again features the Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project in its report from Devon & Cornwall, on page 19 of the July issue (with another illustrated feature on page 9), published online on the 8th.
  • June - RAIL magazine has a six-page feature in issue 985, published on the 14th, A vision for transport in the South West. Under Reopenings and new services it includes this: "Reopening to Bideford, which lost its passenger service in 1965 despite having a larger population than Barnstaple, would entail a nine-mile extension of the Barnstaple line. GWR has contributed to a feasibility study into reopening the line and improvements to speed up the service between Barnstaple and Exeter."
  • June - Chittlehampton Parish Council, whose area includes Umberleigh station, posted Minutes of their 10th May meeting (item 14), on the 5th, setting out their aspirations following the presentation from Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer on 8th March.
  • June - Department for Transport publishes updated Services contract and ancillary legal documents for Great Western Railway, on the 5th, confirming the current contract until expiry on 25 June 2028. (See also 14 June 2022 entry below)
  • May - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer invited to Okehampton Charter Hall, Market Street, EX20 1AA for a coffee morning including OkeRail, Tavy Rail, and Connect Bude, on the 27th. Launch of new Railfuture-funded roller banner for TRA's ACE Rail campaign.
  • May - in this year's World Cup of Stations, held during national Community Rail Week, 22nd to 28th, Okehampton station was short-listed and was the clear winner of the four in the South West Group, however it lost out to a London Group station in the semi-finals, on the 25th.
  • May - six months after his previous visit, GWR's MD Mark Hopwood CBE, and colleagues, returned to Barnstaple for further discussions with Tarka Rail Association representatives, on the 23rd.
  • May - Chittlehampton Parish Council, whose area includes Umberleigh station, on 5th May posted Minutes of their 8th March meeting (item 5) which had received a presentation from Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer.
  • April - Railfuture published latest research showing total annual journeys on the Tarka Line since 2012/13, with a record-breaking 705k for 2022/23! See the chart here.
  • April - ceremony at Okehampton station included handover of authentic replica signs, including Bideford station sign for the TRA's ACE Rail project campaign, on the 20th; see Dartmoor Railway Association (11.04.2023 and 23.04.2023 news).
  • April - Rail link is "needed now more than ever" says front page headline of the North Devon Journal, on the 20th. Inside headline: "Rail link is more vital than ever 60 years after Beeching cuts" says ACE - see full story here.
  • April - the Tarka Line Forum, part of Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, met in Barnstaple, on the 6th.
  • April - "Enthusiasts vision for trains from the Torridge area through Crediton" says the Crediton Courier, on the 1st, reporting the visit of ITV to Bideford for the 60th anniversary of the first Beeching report to interview Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer, with others in front of a Railfuture-funded banner.
  • March - "Enthusiasts vision for trains from the Torridge area through Crediton" says the Crediton Country Courier, on the 30th, reporting the visit of ITV to Bideford for the 60th anniversary of the first Beeching report to interview Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer, with others at Bideford's former station.
  • March - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer was interviewed at length on BBC Radio Devon, on the 29th. Listen to an introductory 1-minute clip or to the full 32 minutes!
  • March - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer was invited to Tarka Line Creatives and gave this presentation, on the 27th - the 60th anniversary of the notorious Beeching Report! ITV News West Country (South West) carried a brief report including part of an interview with Tim.
  • March - "North Devon needs back its lost rail links" declared Devon Live on the 26th.
  • March - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer was interviewed by ITV News West Country (South West) at the former Bideford station, on the 21st and in preparation for the 60th anniversary of the Beeching Report; he was accompanied by the TRA's strategic development adviser Dave Northey (right,) and OkeRail Chairman Dr. Michael Ireland (second right), pictured together with the ACE Rail campaign banner. Later, Tim reprised the ITV interview questions and his responses here, and spoke with Dr. Michael Ireland and Dave Northey.
  • March - Devon Rail Forum online meeting, on the 21st. See updates from Devon CC, from the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, from Network Rail, and from South Western Railway.
  • March - the North Devon District Council / Torridge District Council Joint Planning Policy Committee met to agree the Minutes of the previous meeting held on 27th January (below) and consider the officer report Scoping a partial update of the North Devon and Torridge Local Plan, on the 17th.
  • March - Railfuture's monthly Rail User Express again features a report from the Tarka Rail Association (page 3) on the 15th.
  • March - Railfuture's latest quarterly magazine Railwatch again features the Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project in its report from Devon & Cornwall, on page 19 of the April issue, published online on the 11th.
  • March - Tarka Rail Association's latest magazine, issue 64 for Spring 2023, includes a 5-page report on the ACE Rail project campaign, published on the 10th.
  • March - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer gave a presentation to Chittlehampton Parish Council, most appropriately in the Village Hall next to Umberleigh rail station, on the 8th.
  • March - Torridge District Council's Community & Resources Committee considered a report on the Devon Coastal and Market Towns Action Plan, the Bideford Regeneration Strategy, on the 6th.
  • March - Railfuture publishes updated research, on the 3rd, based on Office of National Statistics data for 2022 showing Torridge District (where most of the communities of 'Greater Bideford' are located) and North Devon District in the lowest 20% of all local authorities nationally for gross weekly earnings for full-time employees.
  • March - sub-national transport body for the South West, Peninsula Transport, met to approve two agenda items of growing importance for the ACE Rail project, the draft Transport Strategy and Strategic Implementation Plan, and the Rail Strategy, on the 2nd. Statutory public consultation on the Transport Strategy will follow after the June meeting.
  • March - Railfuture publishes updated research, on the 1st, based on Devon County Council's Your Community profiles which list 29 market and coastal towns, of which Greater Bideford is the fourth largest by population and by far the largest without a rail station.
  • February - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer gave a presentation to Bishop's Tawton Parish Council, on the 23rd; see Minute 200. The following meeting's Minute 241 then said: "Rail Link Proposal - A brief discussion on last month's meeting with Tim Steer regarding the rail link proposal incorporating an improved train service and possible service through to Bideford was had. Councillors decided that they would support the rail link proposals and it was RESOLVED to contact Tim Steer to inform him of the Parish Council’s support."
  • February - North Devon District Council considers the Local Plan Review report (see item 18 and Minute 104), on the 22nd, referred from Joint Planning Policy Committee on 27th January (below) and resolves to "move to a targeted and focused partial update to the North Devon and Torridge Local Plan" - which, per Appendix 5, will exclude Infrastructure and Transport from its scope.
  • February - Railfuture publishes updated research, on the 22nd, using latest official data for 2020 which shows Torridge District (where most of the communities of 'Greater Bideford' are located) with the weakest per capita GDP in all Devon, and also the South West, and among the very lowest nationally with only 12 of the UK's 373 local authorities even weaker - 10 of which are not in The North!
  • February - "Exciting plans to relink Bideford Tarka Line railway with rest of Devon" - headline in Devon Live, on the 19th. "The plan to link Bideford with the Tarka Line has support from parish councils along the tracks" says the full report of the ceremonial unveiling and installation of a Railfuture-funded ACE Rail campaign banner at Crediton station on Friday 27th January.
  • February - Railfuture publishes new research on Devon's 'rail-mindedness' (station footfall per head of population) - by local authority and by Parliamentary constituency, on the 19th. The Tarka Line's low figures (North Devon and Mid/Central Devon) suggest substantial untapped potential!
  • February - repeated headline "Barrage of Devon housebuilding sparks urgent trains plea " in East Devon Watch, ("Keeping a close eye on our District"), on the 18th.
  • February - "Barrage of Devon housebuilding sparks urgent trains plea " - headline in Devon Live, on the 17th. "Selaine Saxby says the region would 'benefit considerably' - and also that lines in North Devon need restoring" runs the full report of the North Devon MP's address to a Restoring Your Railway Fund Westminster Hall debate on 24th January.
  • February - "Campaigners confident over Bideford's rail bid" says the North Devon Journal's front-page headline, on the 16th. Inside is the full story.
  • February - Railfuture's monthly Rail User Express again features a report (p.3) from the Tarka Rail Association, on the 16th.
  • February - on Valentine's Day, proof that people love the Tarka Line as Railfuture publishes research on the 14th showing record-breaking journeys using the line in 2022, despite days of lost services. And the new year is off to a roaring start with yet another all-time record number of journeys during the first 4-week monitoring period, to 4 February.
  • February - Campaign to connect north coast to Crediton - the headline in the Crediton Courier, on the 4th. Under a photo of two Tarka Rail Association members, including ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer, at Crediton station holding up a banner bearing Railfuture's logo: "The banners were made possible by funding from Railfuture which has 12 branches in England plus Wales and Scotland involved in local issues, which come together to support Railfuture on national campaigns. Railfuture is campaigning for a bigger and better railway in Britain."
  • January - Torridge District Council considers the Local Plan Review report (see item 9 and Minute 110), on the 30th, referred from Joint Planning Policy Committee on 27th January (below) and resolves to "defer a decision until a response is received from the Joint Planning Policy Committee (on 17th March) and to be brought back to the April Full Council meeting (on 3rd April) with full recommendations on the way forward."
  • January - ACE Rail campaign banners on display at Crediton station (photo: Bideford Town and Torridge District Councillor Jamie McKenzie) and at Eggesford station (photo: Tim Steer), following a ceremony held at Crediton station on the 27th.
  • January - the North Devon District Council / Torridge District Council Joint Planning Policy Committee met again, to agree the Minutes of the previous meeting on 4th November (below) and consider the officer report Review of the Torridge and North Devon Local Plan, on the 27th. See Minute 37 and in particular Appendix 5 which excludes Infrastructure and Transport from the scope of a partial Local Plan update as was recommended to the full District Councils.
  • January - GWR's MD Mark Hopwood mentions his December visit to Barnstaple during a House of Commons Transport Committee one-off oral evidence session on Rural Connectivity, on the 25th; read his response to Q102 on p.39 of the transcript of the 10.30 session.
  • January - Restoring Your Railway Fund - Westminster Hall debate initiated by Torbay MP and previous Rail Minister Kevin Foster, on the 24th. See the House of Commons Library research briefing and in particular watch (with sub-titles) the 4:30 minutes speech by North Devon MP Selaine Saxby; also recorded here in Hansard where, in responding to the debate, Rail Minister Huw Merriman says, just before 10.37: "... my hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Selaine Saxby) is a real champion for transport and Combe rail. I know it was unsuccessful in the ideas fund, but I want to talk with her to find out what more we can do."
  • January - Railfuture's monthly Rail User Express newsletter carries further coverage, on page 3, of the Tarka Rail Association's recent activities, on the 15th.
  • January - Great South West partners announced their ambitious vision at a Parliamentary Reception at the House of Lords, on the 10th. Their local growth prospectus published in January 2020 included this: "We need to improve the resilience of the rail networks; increase capacity of train services; improve journey times especially to London and other major centres; create new rail connections (stations and lines) and transport hubs. This includes looking at the potential for re-opening rail lines. We will press for more low carbon rail options to meet our net-zero carbon ambitions, including further electrification." See also 12th August 2021.
  • January - the Tarka Rail Association publishes the seventh edition of its poster Station News for display in all 12 Tarka Line station noticeboards, on the 7th.
2022
  • December - Railfuture publishes a Railwatch Devon & Cornwall portfolio for 2022, on the 31st.
  • December - Support for Tarka Line extension grows since Crediton council’s backing proclaims headline in the Crediton Courier, on the 26th.
  • December - "In May, the recently re-opened Dartmoor Line began offering hourly services between Exeter and Okehampton, with the growing possibility now that we shall see a restored link between Bideford and Barnstaple in the not too distant future." Sir Geoffrey Cox KC MP, reviewing 2022 in his column in the North Devon Journal, on the 22nd.
  • December - A Railway for Bideford - the Lynton, Lynmouth and Exmoor Advertiser carries an article by Tim Steer and Roger Blake, on the 22nd.
  • December - end-of-year message from GWR's Luke Farley, Transport Integration Manager, one of the team working with the Tarka Rail Association and Railfuture on the Initial Business Case for the ACE Rail project, with comments from GWR's MD Mark Hopwood CBE and ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer in response, and from another member of that team GWR's Regional Growth Manager (West) David Whiteway, and again from ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer in response.
  • December - Tarka Rail Association's regular Tuesday joint working party with Barnstaple in Bloom on the currently disused island platform included re-positioning the new campaign banner, on the 20th.
  • Winter issue of Atlantic Coast Express - the magazine of Bideford Railway Heritage Centre CIC includes another update on the ACE Rail campaign under this headline: "Proposed Bideford-Barnstaple and Exeter railway gets £6,500 boost." See ACE 102.
  • December - the latest monthly Rail User Express from Railfuture gives excellent coverage of the Tarka Rail Association, and recent developments with its ACE Rail campaign, on pages 4-5, on the 16th.
  • December - a new bus service on route 301 introduced direct links with Barnstaple rail station for Ilfracombe and Combe Martin, via the North Devon District Hospital, from the 12th.
  • December - Great Western Railway's Managing Director Mark Hopwood CBE accepts invitation from Tarka Rail Association President Andrea Davis and visits Barnstaple station for discussions on the 9th, during which he's handed this presentation, sees this TRA banner for ACE Rail, and with ACE Rail project lead Tim Steer officially presents it for public display with TRA President Andrea Davis and Dave Northey looking on.
  • December - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer gave a presentation to a joint meeting of the Parish Councils around Eggesford station: Wembworthy (host), Chawleigh, Chulmleigh, and Eggesford, on Thursday the 8th.
  • December - YouTube channel Travel TitBits publishes an interview with Tim Steer, on the 4th.
  • November - Initial Business Case for proposed extension of Tarka Line from Barnstaple mentioned in RAIL magazine, on the 30th.
  • November - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer, with Railfuture's national Board Director for Infrastructure & Networks Roger Blake and TRA committee member David Northey, briefed another of the South West's MPs, Scott Mann representing North Cornwall, on the 30th. View presentation here.
  • November - more than once does Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign get a favourable mention in the December edition of Railwatch, published on the 30th. See pages 7 (two photos and one paragraph), 20 and 21 (which also feature supportive neighbours OkeRail).
  • November - latest official estimates of station usage, for the second pandemic-affected year 2021/22, published by the Office of Rail and Road, on the 24th. Tarka Line stations in North Devon almost recovered to pre-pandemic levels, stations in Mid-Devon 15% up mainly at Crediton owing to Okehampton services starting in November 2021 and doubling the town's rail connections with Exeter.
  • November - We have an aspiration to see it one day being used again to pick up passengers bound for Bideford says Tarka Rail Association's Tim Steer talking about Barnstaple station's disused platform for Network Rail colleagues help out on a blooming good station project, on the 22nd.
  • November - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer gave a presentation to the online Devon Rail Forum, on the 22nd. See also presentations by Devon CC on schemes updates, and by GWR with a general update and on rail integration with buses and bikes.
  • November - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer gave a brief talk to the Community Choir at Christ Church, Barnstaple, on the 19th.
  • November - Train station named as 'outstanding' at South West in Bloom reports North Devon Journal, on the 17th, closing with same quote from TRA's Tim Steer.
  • November - GWR grant for ACE Rail Bideford bid - reports Rail Express, on the 15th.
  • November - One day, we aspire to see the second platform reopened to serve passengers heading for Bideford says Tarka Rail Association's Tim Steer talking about Barnstaple station winning a "Level 5 - Outstanding" It's Your Neighbourhood Award at the South West in Bloom Awards 2022 in Devon Live, on the 14th.
  • November - Railfuture's monthly Rail User Express highlights on page 4 extracts from Tarka Rail Association's latest magazine issue 63 for Autumn 2022, on the 9th.
  • November - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer gave a presentation to the Taw U3A Railway Group, on the 9th.
  • November - Railfuture publishes research for all 10 Devon district and unitary councils and 12 parliamentary constituencies showing annual per capita station usage in the pre-pandemic 12-month period, on the 5th. The average for the whole of Devon was 14.6 annual station visits per head of population, yet in the Tarka Line catchment of North Devon it was only 4.8, and in Mid-Devon 8.2 - an upgraded Tarka Line is sorely needed for more attractive journeys with shorter / more competitive in-train travel times!
  • November - Devon County Council's report of the results of the consultation on the draft Barnstaple with Bideford and Northam Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (BBN LCWIP) notes on p. 40 "Comments received regarding development of the LCWIP in tandem with the emerging proposals for a new railway line between Bideford and Barnstaple", on the 4th. (Full comments received noted in detail at pages 66-67 - see 12th October above. Response: "Comments noted. Consideration will be given to any approved train line restoration within the detailed design stage of LCWIP proposals.")
  • November - the North Devon District Council / Torridge District Council Joint Planning Policy Committee met again, (postponed from 14th October) to agree the Minutes of the previous meeting on 15th July (below) and consider five officers' reports including a Local Plan Project Review, on the 4th.
  • November - Railfuture publishes analysis, based on Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership data, showing Tarka line journeys in first ten 4-week periods from 2009-2022, on the 4th. Four of those ten periods have set new records, as does the year-to-date (data to 15 October 2022).
  • November - Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership revived the Tarka Line Forum, on the 4th, with reports of best-ever passenger journey volumes on the line despite various service disruptions in recent months. See GWR presentation.
  • November issue of Modern Railways - joint letter Bideford campaign progress by Tim Steer (ACE Rail, TRA) and Roger Blake (Railfuture).
  • October - Boost for Bideford rail plan - The Railway Magazine, on the 31st.
  • October - Tim Steer (Tarka Rail Association) was mentioned as giving a short presentation in CONNECT Bude are encouraging members of the public who are concerned about the bus connections in their local area to attend their upcoming annual general meeting. as reported by the Cornish & Devon Post on the 25th, with reference to the AGM on the 22nd.
  • October - Grant aid boost for Bideford reinstatement proposal - Heritage Railway magazine, on the 25th.
  • October - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer was one of two guest speakers at the AGM of Connect Bude and gave a presentation to help promote the ACE Rail campaign to other districts and constituents, on the 22nd. The other guest speaker was David Whiteway, GWR's Regional Growth Manager (West).
  • October - Tarka Rail Association's magazine issue 63 for Autumn 2022, published mid-October, includes Railfuture's Commendation in the Paul Abell 'Best Newsletter' category of the national Awards for Rail User Groups, Okehampton - a strategic success by TRA committee member David Northey, and a TRA / ACE Rail report by Tim Steer including Railfuture's Gold Award in the Oliver Lovell 'Best New Group' category of the national Awards for Rail User Groups. Join the TRA here to receive this and the next issues!
  • October - Faster train link is aim of rail project for town 'left behind' - North Devon Journal, on the 20th.
  • October - "Bold scheme aims to reinstate rail links from Barnstaple to Bideford. Bideford is a large urban community, and it's been left behind" - so says Devon Live, on the 19th. Same news item reported in Railway Ramblers.
  • October - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer was interviewed live for 10 minutes on The Voice, on the 18th, and in the studio shows off the campaign's Railfuture Gold Award for Best New Group.
  • October - GWR's support for TRA's ACE Rail campaign's Initial Business Case also mentioned in the Crediton Courier, on the 14th.
  • October - GWR's support for TRA's ACE Rail campaign's Initial Business Case mentioned in this month's issue of Railfuture's Rail User Express, page 3, published on the 13th.
  • October - Project to reopen railway line on track with new funding said the North Devon Journal front page headline on the 13th. The inside article was headlined Bideford rail line project gets boost with GWR funds.
  • October - GWR's Transport Integration Manager Luke Farley promotes Working in Partnership to provide joined-up journeys, on the 12th.
  • October - Tarka Rail Association's response to Devon County Council's Barnstaple with Bideford and Northam Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (BBN LCWIP), on the 12th. The Devon CC website says: The consultation report summarising the questionnaire results will be available later this year.
  • October - further coverage of GWR press release in RailUK and Rail Advent, on the 11th.
  • October - BBC Radio Devon morning news headlines include different clips from interview with Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer at 06.00 and 07.00, on the 11th.
  • October - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer is interviewed on local radio station The Voice, on the 11th.
  • October - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer gives a presentation to Barnstaple Town Council at the meeting of the full Town Council (agenda item 12), making the first public announcement of GWR's financial support for the Initial Business Case, on the 10th. He had been due to do so on Monday 12th September, but the meeting was cancelled and his presentation postponed following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
  • October - Railfuture welcomes GWR contribution to the Initial Business Case, complementing its own Fighting Fund grant announced at the Tarka Rail Association's AGM on 19th May, in a press release on the 10th.
  • October - Great Western Railway issued a press release confirming their funding support for the Initial Business Case for the Atlantic Coast-Exeter Railway to re-connect Bideford via Barnstaple with Exeter, commissioned by the Tarka Rail Association, on the 10th. See GWR/TRA Community Fund agreement in summary here; note the reference to Devon Metro.
  • October - this month's issue of Modern Railways magazine includes a four-page feature Devon's integrated vision based around an interview with Devon CC's transport head and Chair of Peninsula Transport Cllr. Andrea Davis.
  • September - not once, not twice, but three times does Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign get a mention in the October edition of Railwatch, published on the 30th. See pages 7, 14 (which also features supportive neighbours OkeRail), and 20.
  • September - Tarka Rail Association's independent specialist advisor Jonathan Roberts Consulting commenced work to report further on his Proposals to define an initial business case for a Bideford-Barnstaple-Exeter fast rail link as he first submitted in early-April, in the week beginning Monday 26th. It is now fully-funded by the Tarka Rail Association, Railfuture, and a third source soon to be announced. The final report will be published by the end of March 2023, and its conclusions if favourable would provide the basis for the next stage of project development work for which further funding will need to be secured, a Strategic Outline Business Case, following the Department for Transport's guidance for Restoring Your Railway initiatives.
  • September - Devon County Council opened public consultation on its Barnstaple with Bideford and Northam Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (BBN LCWIP), on the 21st. The Tarka Rail Association and its ACE Rail campaign will wish to re-assure that the Tarka Trail is not at risk from proposals for a new railway line between Bideford and Barnstaple.
  • September - Railfuture's Devon & Cornwall branch newsletter for September, published on the 17th, includes on page 15 a "North Devon and Bideford" report by Tim Steer.
  • September - Okehampton sees massive visitor boost since railway opening - Okehampton Times, published on the 1st.
  • September - Torridge & West Devon MP the Rt. Hon. Sir Geoffrey Cox KC writes in the North Devon Journal, on the 1st: "I continue to push for improved broadband and rail and road links to our area. Recently, I met rail campaigners and GWR managers to discuss and give my support to the growing recognition of the viability and importance of restoring a rail link between Bideford and Barnstaple."
  • August, Bank Holiday Monday - Bideford Railway Heritage Centre member Jeremy Vine replays part of his visit to BRHC last week on his Channel 5 morning tv programme, on the 29th, including his voice-over: "you can see the old station sign - I mean of course it's sad that it's not used as a working station, but we live in hope - don't we?" "Yeah!" Watch the 2-minute extract here.
  • August - repeating his visit to Bideford Railway Heritage Centre last August (see above) Appledore Book Festival Patron Jeremy Vine shot this video, on the 23rd. Note his voice-over at 0:20-0:30: "this is the old railway, so it's not used. Are we hoping that one day this railway starts being used again?" "Well, that's a big question." "Bideford to Barnstaple?"
  • August - Devon's successes in the national Awards for Rail User Groups are again highlighted, on p. 3 of Railfuture's monthly Rail User Express, published on the 11th.
  • August - BBC evening news Spotlight came from Bideford, on the 10th.
  • August - Railfuture's e-news bulletin Rail Action features ACE Rail, and OkeRail, on the 10th. See pages 5-7.
  • August - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer hosted Torridge & West Devon MP Rt. Hon. Sir Geoffrey Cox KC at Bideford Railway Heritage Centre, on the 5th. See the presentation which he received here. Also present were TRA Chair Mike Day, County Councillor for Bideford East Linda Hellyer, Torridge District Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Bideford Jamie McKenzie, former Bideford Mayor David Ratcliff and wife Phillipa, and GWR's Regional Growth Manager (West) David Whiteway, as illustrated here and here.
  • July - North Devon MP Selaine Saxby visited Barnstaple station to meet a variety of key stakeholders and supporters of the campaign for the Atlantic Coast-Exeter Railway, ACE Rail, on the 29th. See the presentation which she received here.
  • July - Decarbonising the Western - special report on Great Western in August issue of Modern Railways magazine, published on the 28th.
  • July - the Summer issue of Combe Rail's newsletter The Devon Belle includes a brief report Bideford Re-opening Campaign and picture of the gathering at Bideford Railway Heritage Centre on 20th April when Devon CC Cabinet member and North Devon District Councillor Andrea Davis visited to enjoy the Centre and to talk about the ACE Rail campaign to restore a rail link to Exeter via Barnstaple.
  • July - On the 96th anniversary of the first Atlantic Coast Express service, ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer addressed a meeting of the Full Council of Crediton Town Council, on the 19th. View the presentation here, and the recorded discussion in the first 25 minutes of the meeting here (warning: very poor sound quality in original). See the report in the Crediton Courier, on the 26th.
  • July - ACE Rail's Tim Steer and Tarka Rail Association's Andy Hedges attended Railfuture's national AGM at Bristol for the presentation of the Rail User Group Awards, on the 16th. The TRA's ACE Rail campaign won the Oliver Lovell Gold Award for Best New Group. After he received his framed certificate, see Tim's short presentation here. Andy also received a framed certificate for the TRA, a Commendation in the Paul Abell Best Newsletter category. See the full presentations, including the Judges' Special Award to OkeRail and the Dartmoor Line, here, and watch here for the certificate presentations to TRA's Andy Hedges from 00:05:40, to ACE Rail's Tim Steer from 00:07:25, to OkeRail's Michael Ireland and Kevin Ball from 00:38:43, and Tim's closing presentation from 01:16:20.
  • July - the North Devon District Council / Torridge District Council Joint Planning Policy Committee met for the first time since both Councils agreed Motions of support for a new Bideford-Barnstaple rail link to be embedded in the joint Local Plan review, known as the People and Place Project, on the 15th. Reinstatement of Bideford to Barnstaple Rail Link was originally Agenda item 11 but was taken first and resulted in this decision: that the Bideford to Barnstaple rail link is considered as part of the People and Place project.
  • July - ACE Rail: Getting back on track... was the subject of a free event in Instow addressed by OkeRail Executive member Kevin Ball and Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer, on the 9th. Click to view Tim's presentation.
  • July - Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer updates his own Fremington Parish Council in their Full Council meeting with this presentation, on the 4th. Note unapproved Minute 2207/06 here.
  • June - Plans for trying to re-establish the Barnstaple / Bideford link are far from a pipe dream. Tim Jones, Chairman of North Devon Biosphere Foundation, writing in the North Devon Gazette, on the 29th.
  • June - Tarka Rail Association's committee member and its ACE Rail campaign lead, Tim Steer, submits the Association's application to GWR's Customer and Community Improvement Fund for support for an Initial Business Case for ACE Rail - the new Atlantic Coast-Exeter Railway - on the 24th.
  • June - Torridge District Council's Motion supporting the new rail link to Bideford is reported in the North Devon Journal, on the 23rd.
  • June - official data for March 2021 shows 8 of Devon's 10 local authority areas have worse housing affordability than the England average, when comparing house prices with annual earnings; Torridge and North Devon are among those eight. Homes England, an executive non-departmental public body under the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing & Communities, has a Strategic Plan 2018/19-2022/23 whose impact is measured using key performance indicators, including its "Share of funding to the 50% least affordable local authorities by the price to earnings ratio." Eight of Devon's 10 local authority areas so qualify for Homes England investment. A bigger better Tarka line will at least help make its investment in new homes more sustainable for some of their travel needs.
  • June - What a difference a year makes reports the July issue of Railwatch, house magazine of Railfuture, also published mid-June.
  • June - see Tarka line journeys from 2014 for clear evidence of an increasingly popular railway service!
  • June - Progress towards Bideford? - extract from Tarka Rail Association magazine issue 62 for Summer 2022, published mid-June.
  • June - "Campaign to re-instate Bideford to Barnstaple train line gathers steam" reported the North Devon Gazette], on the 22nd.
  • June - Tarka Rail Association noted on the 14th that GWR's owners First Group had just signed a new National Rail Contract for GWR, to operate from Sunday 26 June initially for three years to 21 June 2025 and extendable for up to a further three until June 2028. First Group has stated that in their plans under the new contract "GWR will deliver improvements for customers and communities across their network, including building on the successful delivery of the first Restoring Your Railway project on the Dartmoor Line, working with the DfT and local communities on developing proposals for further station and line improvements." The TRA said "This is encouraging news for the Tarka Rail Association and its ACE Rail campaign, as plans to extend Tarka line services to Bideford and upgrade the existing line from Exeter for an additional fast limited-stop hourly service will continue to be developed with the strong and unified local support which has already been generated."
  • June - Torridge District Council's Full Council meeting agreed this Motion from Vice-Chair Cllr Peter Christie That TDC, following on from the presentation made at the last Full council meeting, do support the extension of the railway line from Barnstaple to Bideford and that this aspiration is embedded in the new Joint Local Plan on the 13th. Deputy Mayor Cllr McKenzie proposed an agreed amendment that the aspiration be added to the economic development plan.
  • Summer issue of Atlantic Coast Express - the magazine of Bideford Railway Heritage Centre CIC includes an update on the ACE Rail campaign with this opening by Tim Steer: It is 150 years since the railway reached Bideford at the station which is now our Heritage Centre, so what better way to celebrate than to inform you that, 40 years after the very last trains left, a restored railway service to the town is being taking seriously by local authorities! (You read that correctly). See ACE 101.
  • May - Devon Metro and Restoring Your Railway Projects by Andrea Davis, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, and Trains by Tim Steer, Bideford Atlantic Coast to Exeter Railway Lead, are featured in Devon Voice, the newsletter of Devon CPRE, in its Spring 2022 issue, on the 31st.
  • May - Lynmouth and Lynton gained through bus links with Barnstaple rail station to link with Tarka Line train services when the 309/310 services were extended from the town centre bus station, from 29th May.
  • May - Tim Steer attended a meeting of North Devon Public Transport Users to give them a brief presentation "about proposals for the reinstatement of the rail link between Bideford and Barnstaple", on the 25th.
  • May - ACE Rail lead Tim Steer gave a 10-minute interview to The Voice local radio, on Monday 23rd; listen with Laura here, from 0:09-10.51.
  • May - Great Western Railway announced the opening of applications to their new Community Fund, on the 19th, further promoted on the 24th. Tarka Rail Association likely to apply for support for its ACE Rail campaign by the 27th June closing date.
  • May - Tarka Rail Association's Annual General Meeting. Venue: Umberleigh Village Hall, The Station, Umberleigh, Devon, EX37 9AB, on the 19th. See TRA-Facebook. During his presentation Tim Steer announced that Railfuture's national Board of Directors had agreed to commit some of its Fighting Fund to support 40% of the cost of producing the Initial Business Case for the ACE Rail project.
  • May - Tim Steer receives a letter from the MP for North Devon Selaine Saxby, on the 16th, appreciating his work on the proposals to extend the Barnstaple to Exeter line to Bideford; she is aware of the environmental concerns when looking at it going along the estuary. She sees it as an extension of the main line to Exeter which while welcome is also potentially controversial and expensive, and has offered her help. Tim Steer reacted: Having the local MP’s interest expressed in this way is a vote of confidence in ACE Rail continuing, with Railfuture’s backing, to develop the proposals to restore Bideford to the rail network, taking due note of the challenges ahead which she has identified.
  • May - "Reopening track would boost towns'' reports the Western Morning News, on the 13th.
  • May - Tim Steer receives a copy of the reply to Sir Geoffrey Cox QC MP from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, on the 6th, pointing to some ways forward for the ACE Rail campaign.
  • May - tune in to BBC Radio Devon to hear ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer talking to David FitzGerald, 11.00 on Tuesday 3rd.
  • May issue of The Planner, house magazine of the Royal Town Planning Institute, includes an article delivering sustainable transport to new homes by Railfuture's Director for Infrastructure & Networks, Roger Blake.
  • April - People and Place - planning for our future together - Torridge and North Devon District Councils' survey and initial consultations for the new joint Local Plan closed on Friday the 29th; see Railfuture's response.
  • April - South West suffers from 'profound' social inequality, study finds - BBC News, on the 28th. Two key findings of relevance to Torridge: Low earnings and poor pay are common in many parts of the region with four of Devon's eight districts among the UK's top 25 low wage "hotspots" and The area has long travel times to pursue further education or work which has been linked to higher drop out rates. Read the full report from the University of Exeter Social Mobility in the South West - levelling-up through education here.
  • April - Devon Live features Reopening of Bideford to Barnstaple railway 'transformational for North Devon', on the 27th.
  • April - North Devon District Council published the Minutes and Decision of the 4th April Strategy & Resources Committee, on the 26th. Council agreed (a) "That the inclusion of this policy aim (to support the re-instatement of Bideford to Barnstaple rail link for passenger and other services, as proposed by ACE Rail) within the revised joint local plan be referred to the Joint Planning Policy Committee for consideration; (b) To work with partners and organisations to explore this idea and where necessary to lobby those who may contribute to making this happen..."
  • April - VIPs visit Bideford to see the Railway Heritage Centre and share thoughts on progress with the ACE Rail campaign to reconnect the town's >30k people with the county's economic capital, via a new rail link to Barnstaple and an upgraded Tarka Line for competitive journey times, on the 20th. More (including photos) at ACE Rail.
  • April - at Bideford Town Council's Annual Parish Meeting the report from the Decarbonisation & Environment Committee Chairman Cllr James Craigie included a paragraph on "the work by ACE Rail to reconnect Bideford to the mainline rail network", on the 19th.
  • April - The areas in the South West of England that could be under water by 2050 said the Swindon Advertiser, with this interactive map, on the 18th. Any new Bideford-Barnstaple rail link, and Tarka Line upgrade south of Barnstaple, will have to reckon with this risk.
  • April - TV presenter / broadcaster / artist Timmy Mallett pauses at Bideford Railway Heritage Centre while visiting Tarka Trail by bike, on the 14th.
  • April - ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer received a very supportive letter from the MP for Torridge & West Devon Sir Geoffrey Cox, on the 14th, indicating that he has asked the Transport Secretary for advice on how the scheme might be taken forward.
  • April - ACE Rail campaign lead Cllr Tim Steer gave his presentation to the Full Council meeting of Torridge District Council, on the 11th, as later recorded in Minute 321.
  • April - What life is really like in "forgotten" part of north Devon - East-the-Water, the part of Bideford not in Torridge and home to Bideford Railway Heritage Centre at the former station closed to passengers 60 years ago, now on the Traka Trail - North Devon Live, on the 10th.
  • April - The railway effect - if it can do this much for a west Devon town of less than 10,000, what couldn't it do for a north Devon town of over 30,000? See the Okehampton Times, on the 9th.
  • April - North Devon District Council's Strategy & Resources Committee considered the Motion referred from the Council meeting on 23rd February Reinstatement of Bideford to Barnstaple Rail Link, on the 4th, and supported in Minute 127.
  • April - Proposals to define an initial business case for a Bideford-Barnstaple-Exeter fast rail link were returned, in response to the request from ACE Rail campaign lead Tim Steer, by Jonathan Roberts Consulting, on the 4th.
  • March - Best Place - see Railfuture's response to Devon County Council's Strategic Plan for 2021-25, on the 31st.
  • March - Dartmoor Line shows how projects can succeed. A joint presentation was given by Network Rail's Christian Irwin and GWR's Matt Barnes at the Modern Railways Fourth Friday Club conference in Cardiff Rail in Wales and the West, on the 25th. Courtesy of Modern Railways / Key Publishing, non-subscribers can enjoy viewing their 21-minute presentation here.
  • March - People and Place - planning for our future together - Torridge and North Devon District Councils co-launch initial consultations for the new joint Local Plan, on the 24th.
  • March - the Spring Statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer included the launch of round 2 of the Levelling-Up Fund, on the 23rd. Although Torridge District, home to most of 'Greater Bideford', is again in the top-priority Tier 1 of local authorities there was "huge frustration" locally when last year's round 1 bid to level-up Bideford was turned down.
  • March - the North Devon Gazette carries a column by North Devon Council Leader David Worden Barnstaple to Bideford train line re-instated - pipedream or reality? on the 23rd, posted online on 1st April.
  • March - ACE Rail lead Tim Steer addressed North Devon Green Party's virtual Speaker's Corner on the 16th.
  • March - Tarka team on target for Bideford reports the April issue of Railwatch, house magazine of Railfuture, published mid-March.
  • March - official data for 2021 shows Torridge District (where most of the communities of 'Greater Bideford' are located) with the next-weakest gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in all Devon, and among the very lowest nationally with only 7 of Britain's 362 local authorities even weaker - 4 of which are not in The North.
  • March - Bideford Town Council's meeting approved and adopted the Minutes of the Decarbonisation & Environment Committee of 8th March, Minute 145, on the 3rd.
  • February - Destination Bideford - extract from Tarka Rail Association magazine issue 61 for Spring 2022, published late-February.
  • February - Motion to North Devon District Council to support the re-instatement of Bideford to Barnstaple rail link for passenger and other services, as proposed by ACE Rail on the 23rd, when it was "RESOLVED that the notice of motion be referred to the Strategy and Resources Committee for consideration." Letter of support from Tarka Rail Association.
  • February - "Devon wages among worst in UK" says the North Devon Gazette, on the 23rd. Torridge, home to most of Greater Bideford, "has the second lowest pay in Devon and the fourth lowest in the UK."
  • February - local historian and councillor Peter Christie writes about BRHC and bringing back a working rail line between Bideford and Barnstaple in the North Devon Journal, on the 17th.
  • February - Motion to Devon County Council on the 17th, Restoring Railway Resilience. See the webcast of agenda item 12, or listen to just the audio, including the added reference to Bideford-Barnstaple.
  • February - Motion to Tawstock Parish Council on the 15th, confirmed in Minute 186: It was agreed to support the re-instatement of Bideford to Barnstaple rail link for passenger and other services, as proposed by ACE Rail and include the policy aim within the revised joint local plan.
  • February - Devon County Council's Local Transport Plan 2011-26 lists 28 market and coastal towns, of which Bideford is the third largest by population and the largest without a rail station.
  • February - official data for 2019 shows Torridge District (where most of the communities of 'Greater Bideford' are located) with the weakest per capita GDP in all Devon, and among the very lowest nationally with only 13 of the UK's 375 local authorities even weaker - 11 of which are not in The North!
  • February - Bideford Town Council's Decarbonisation & Environment Committee considered ACE Railway – Economic and Environmental funding support on the 8th. The Committee recommended (Minute 29) first that £3,000.00 is provided from the Climate Change budget to support the Environmental aspect of the Economic Report and the benefits to the decarbonisation of Bideford. and second that Letters are written to the Stakeholder Town and Parish Councils advising them of the Project and inviting contributions; the Local MPs are similarly appraised.
  • February - inaugural meeting of Bideford Town Council's ACE Rail group, on the 3rd.
  • February issue of Modern Railways - joint letter Back the Bideford bid by Tim Steer (BRHC), Roger Blake (Railfuture), and Kevin Ball (OkeRail).
  • January - local press coverage in the North Devon Journal on the 27th and Devon Live News on the 31st.
  • January - initial informal discussion between ACE Rail lead Tim Steer and rail industry and local elected representatives, on the 28th.
  • January - ACE Rail presentation to Bideford Town Council, on the 20th. Read the approved Minute 122: Restoring Your Railway - Bideford to Barnstaple main line service.
2021
Click to register your support for this and other railway re-openings.

The Tarka Rail Association's ACE Rail Campaign learns from the experience of the Dartmoor Line and in particular the two local groups most closely associated with it: OkeRail - winner of Railfuture's 2022 Judges' Special Award - and the Dartmoor Railway Association.
See also Tarka Line - one of several in the Devon and Cornwall Community Rail Partnership.

PHO:Bideford and River Torridge PHO:Bideford rail poster PHO:Bideford Railway Heritage Centre

The 9-mile railway from Barnstaple to Bideford closed to regular scheduled passenger services on Saturday 2nd October 1965 and the station closed on Monday 4th October 1965 - when the population of Bideford was greater than the population of Barnstaple! Freight continued to run, principally clay traffic from Meeth until this was withdrawn in September 1982. While the tracks remained until 1985 attempts were made to reopen the line, as detailed in Bring Back the Trains - The Case for Railway Re-openings, first published by the Railway Development Society (changing its public name in 2000 to Railfuture) in February 1983, and in the April 1984 2nd edition. See Chapter VI pages 31-32 here.

The track was finally lifted in 1985 and the land purchased by Devon County Council for use as a footpath and cycleway. The potential of this line was reiterated in the March 1988, May 1989 and March 1998 publication of the A - Z of Rail Re-openings also published by the Railway Development Society - see RDS books. Bideford-Barnstaple featured too as one of the 26 proposals in the 6-page pamphlet Bring Back our Tracks. Published by the Railway Development Society in June 1996, it can be viewed here. Despite the potential of this route for rail passengers, 22nd April 1987 marked the opening as part of the South West Coastal Path by the Rt. Honourable William Waldegrave, Environment Minister, and on 28th May 1992 the Tarka Trail was opened by the then H.R.H. Prince of Wales, now King Charles III.

By 2020 the population of 'Greater Bideford' (Appledore, Bideford, Northam, and Westward Ho!) was estimated to be over 31,000 (sources: Bideford and Northam) having continued to grow by about 3,000 per decade since the trackbed was converted to become the Tarka Trail. A c.9-mile extension of the Exeter - Barnstaple railway to Bideford would add substantially to its effective catchment area. The journey time could be c.10 minutes from Barnstaple to Bideford. With some relatively modest Tarka Line line upgrading, a 70-minute journey time between Exeter Central and Bideford could be possible. Compared to the Barnstaple to Bideford bus link the rail service would then save around 45 to 55 minutes, although still be only marginally better than the journey-time by car.

Accordingly the case for restoring a rail service to Bideford has long-appeared to be strong. Way back in 1992 Railway Development Society volunteers conducted a site survey of the original route to determine whether the former line could be reopened, as just one of the options for re-establishing a mainline rail link between Barnstaple and Bideford for through services to and from Exeter.

Additional work has been done since that date, 30 years ago now, to check for changes. One of the problems identified has been the installation of a sewer pipeline beneath the trackbed between Instow and Bideford. Other challenges relate to the overlay of the well-used and much-loved Tarka Trail tourist initiative on to this closed section of what was the North Devon main line. Although the route was never built for double track it was originally broad gauge to the outskirts of Bideford, so potentially aiding the building of a new rail alignment alongside the Tarka Trail footpath and cyclepath. That however will neither be possible for Instow tunnel, nor desirable for the level crossing there (which Network Rail will probably resist anyway) and for Fremington Quay, all pointing to a section of completely new inland route - in a not dissimilar way from the new A39 carving a completely new inland route back in the '80s.

The station in Bideford remains as two distinct halves to either side of the Station Hill / Railway Terrace underbridge. The northern half has two remaining platforms opposite the Royal Hotel. South of the underbridge the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre CIC are restoring the remainder of the station as a museum; the station building itself is owned by the Royal Hotel. Okehampton now offers an example of mainline and heritage operations co-existing on opposite tracks in the same station; examples elsewhere include Eridge in East Sussex and Matlock in Derbyshire. As Bideford covers an expanding area many potential rail users would doubtless wish to use their own vehicles to get to and from the railway; a new parkway station could be built by the new Torridge Bridge where the A39 has a junction with the B3233. This would serve the outer west side of Bideford along with Northam, Appledore and Westward Ho!

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