A long-awaited vital decision to reinstate a rail link between Tavistock and Bere Alston, completing a line to Plymouth, has been announced today and welcomed as a 'huge boost to the economy and people's lives'.
After the expected announcement of the scrapping of the multi-billion pound HS2 line by the Prime Minister, a newly-created Government body called Network North has said funds will be released to improve the rail network across the country.
This includes the Tavistock to Bere Alston line which has been welcomed by West Devon leaders as a huge boost to investment and the economy and to improve access to health and education and tourism.
Devon County Councillor Andrea Davis, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, said: "I'm delighted and relieved after so many years pressing for this to happen. This is a huge investment in West Devon. It is a great vote of confidence in the county council and my transport team, justifying the professional case that's been made to the Department of Transport on behalf of the people of West Devon.
"This immediately unlocks investment in the area which will bring benefits such as jobs with businesses attracted to an area with improved transport links. More tourists will be able to come to visit the area of outstanding natural beauty and Dartmoor, so helping tourism and visitor numbers.
"On an everyday level there will be better access to health and education opportunities, especially for younger people who can't afford to run cars and will help keep local youngsters stay in the town of their birth because they can access jobs in Plymouth or elsewhere linked by trains and won't have to move. Younger families can also stay in our communities without having to move away to develop their careers.
"On an environmental level, the A386 from Tavistock to Plymouth will be less congested as people will be more likely to leave their cars behind, which is good for the environment."
Brian Lamb, of Bere Alston, and speaking as a long-time active rail campaigner, said: "This is wonderful news which will benefit the environment, reduce congestion on the A386, and provide a pleasant journey to work for commuters who work at the University, in the City and within the expanding dockyards.
" It will give an unbelievable boost to the local economy and to Tavistock tourism, in the same way that other reopened lines have benefitted their communities. There is a planned provision for an hourly service in the peak periods from Tavistock with a journey time of about 33 minutes."
He added: "This reopening has been achieved by the support, over the last 20 years, by Devon County Council and especially the unstinting work of Cabinet Member for Transport Cllr Andrea Davis and our Member of Parliament Sir Geoffrey Cox, assisted by Richard Burningham, MBE the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership Officer. The decision will be warmly welcomed by local residents.
"However, there must be a local bus service to Tavistock station, ideally with an" all-in ticket" and there needs to be a transport hub within Plymouth Station, replicating the no 9 service which ran from inside the station into the city. Turning to Tavistock we need to plan for a "short-cut" access to the new station, for pedestrians and cyclists through Highfields using the existing public tracks.
"In this way the new service will be similar to the Dartmoor Railway that has already doubled the estimated passengers carried. On to the next step from Tavistock to Okehampton!"
A Number Ten spokesman said: "As a result of the decision to scrap the extension of HS2, every region will now receive investment in the modes of transport that matter to you most.
"Today we have announced the launch of Network North, a new approach to transport in this country.
As a result of the decision to scrap the extension of HS2, every region will now receive investment in the modes of transport that matter to you most."
The following benefits for the South West were announced by the Government:
Funding for vital Exeter to Plymouth rail line: making it more resilient in the face of extreme weather.
Opening more railway lines: between Cullompton and Wellington.
A new station built at Tavistock: connecting it with Plymouth. Plus, five miles of track will be reinstated.
£100 million in funding for a Mass Transit system: to revolutionise travel in and around Bristol.
£140 million in funding to ensure the delivery of 12 road schemes: among them the A38 in North Somerset.
A further £1 billion fund for new road schemes: around the South West, South East and East of England.
Access to £2.8 billion roads resurfacing fund to combat the potholes.
£2 bus fare extended: Until the end of December 2024 instead of rising to £2.50 as planned.
£0.8bn from the City Regional Sustainable Transport Settlement 2 budget and savings from HS2.