Another ‘key’ milestone in reopening the Dartmoor Line has been reached with the completion of the purchase of the railway and Okehampton station.
Network Rail’s acquisition of this ownership was formally marked yesterday (Thursday 1 July) with the symbolic handing over of keys to the station and the track.
The 16 mile stretch of railway – from Coleford Junction to the end of the line at Meldon Quarry – has been purchased by Network Rail from Aggregate Industries.
Aggregate Industries has owned the line for more than 25 years having acquired it from British Rail in 1994, and up until 2008 operated aggregate services to and from Meldon Quarry. Since then, Aggregate Industries continued to support train operations through a long-term lease to the Dartmoor Rail Company as well as supporting the Dartmoor Railway Association (DRA) in championing the reopening of the Dartmoor Line.
Following the administration of the Dartmoor Rail Company, Aggregate Industries has worked collaboratively with Network Rail and Great Western Railway (GWR), accommodating detailed surveys to be undertaken to understand what infrastructure and railway control system improvements are needed to bring the Dartmoor Line up to the required standards to enable GWR to operate trains safely.
Devon County Council has transferred ownership of the northern part of Okehampton station to Network Rail for a peppercorn fee of £1, enabling the station and platform that will serve passengers upon the resumption of regular passenger services, to become part of the rail network.
The Council will retain ownership of the southern side of the station and will maintain the footbridge to allow connectivity between the two sides of the station.
Yesterday at Okehampton station, Aggregate Industries’ Aggregate Director, South, Phil Coupland marked the sale of the railway by presenting Network Rail’s industry programme director, Christian Irwin, with a large key, known as a ‘train staff’, used by train drivers to enter a section of single track assured no other trains are on the same track. The sale of Okehampton station was also marked with Devon County Councillor, Andrea Davis, presenting Network Rail with a set of keys to the station.
A framed picture was also presented by Network Rail to Tom and Sue Baxter in recognition of their long standing support of the reopening of the Dartmoor Line and ongoing volunteering efforts to maintain and refurbish parts of the station, as part of the Dartmoor Railway Association.
Source: Devon County Council