With major rail works on the Exeter to Barnstaple Tarka Line due to begin on Saturday, rail passengers are being urged to check their travel plans.
Buses will replace trains between Crediton and Barnstaple for two weeks from this Saturday to early morning on Monday, December 3. This is part of a two stage programme of work which will see Network Rail replacing rails on nearly a quarter of the line. The second stage will be next March.
At £9.3 million, this investment is the biggest in the Tarka Line for more than 100 years, following the 1910 Traffic Pooling Agreement between the line's then owners, the London & South Western Railway, and the Great Western Railway which saw both companies end investment in their lines to Barnstaple.
Richard Burningham, Manager of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, which works to promote the line said "These major works are a huge statement of confidence in the Tarka Line and will stand the line in good stead for decades to come. It is not so very long ago that people feared the line would close. Now we are seeing the biggest investment for more than 100 years."
Mr Burningham was Travel Centre Manager for British Rail at Barnstaple station in the mid 1980s. He said "The line has improved massively since I worked at Barnstaple station in the 1980s. It now has its best ever train service and is almost certainly better used now that it has ever been, with more than 500,000 journeys made in a year last year for the first time and further growth since."
"The growth has come through a lot of hard work and investment from a lot of people, most notably the County Council who have been investing in providing more trains and promoting the line, for example, through our Partnership for more than twenty years."
"I hope people will check their travel plans before setting off. The two weeks of closure will, of course, inconvenience passengers but I am sure people will appreciate that it is in a very good cause indeed."
Travel information is available from staffed stations, at www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk or from National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50.