Easier access to the national rail network from places like Bude and Holsworthy is one step closer to becoming reality.

It comes as part of the Government’s latest round of levelling up investment announcements, with £13.4 million awarded to a project to build a new Okehampton Parkway railway station.

The new station, which will be situated on the eastern edge of the town, will allow residents of the towns and surrounding areas to enjoy easier access to the network with regular services between Okehampton and Exeter enabling onward travel to Bristol, London, the South Coast and further north.

The reopening of Okehampton comes after decades of long journeys for residents of Bude and Holsworthy to Exeter or Bodmin Parkway to access the railway network since the Beeching Axe severed the towns’ railway connections after closure in 1966.

The new railway station will be easily accessible from the A30 and comes as part of efforts to reduce the impact of transport on the climate.

It will feature a passenger lift to enable accessibility for all passengers in addition to cycle facilities, electric vehicle charger points and parking.

Scott Mann, Conservative MP for North Cornwall who was involved in the campaign to restore the line to Okehampton, hailed the announcement, saying: “It is brilliant to see this important levelling up investment in Okehampton rail, which will benefit people across Devon and Cornwall. I have long been a supporter of the Okehampton line as a second route into Cornwall, so I have been very pleased to see the government commitment to a project that has huge local and regional support.”

Cllr Neil Jory, Leader for West Devon Borough Council said he was delighted, adding: “It’s fantastic news for Okehampton, and the Borough, providing an interchange from the A30 to Exeter and the strategic rail network. Okehampton has so much to offer and this transport hub, which builds on the success of the Dartmoor Line, will make travelling to the town even easier.

“The new integrated travel links include a new station, specifically designed for the town. A car park with EV charging points and cycling facilities, which are essential for this town with the hugely popular Granite Way cycling nearby, and walking route on its doorstep, along with the northern edge of Dartmoor and all its walks.

“This is really wonderful news and I’d like to thank Devon County Council, Cllr Andrea Davis, Mel Stride MP, OkeRail and our own Economy team who have given their support to this project.”

Cllr Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport added: “This is brilliant news for the people of Okehampton, and a boost to the regeneration of the town. The Dartmoor Line to Okehampton has been hugely successful with more than 250,000 passenger journeys in the first year. The development of the West Devon Transport Hub with an additional station will be another positive step for the local economy while reducing carbon emissions.” 

The news was also welcomed by Connect Bude, a railway campaign group which is calling on the Government to reinstate a railway connection to the town.

Richard Wolfenden-Brown, the Chair of Connect Bude said: “We welcome news of the funding to build an Okehampton Parkway station. It will open up the railway to new passengers from across West Devon and North Cornwall and will help to reduce congestion in Exeter as drivers shift from road to rail, with ease, via the new station. 

“The news brings encouragement to Connect Bude’s campaign to restore rail to Bude and Holsworthy, a project that already has the support of local MPs, Bude Stratton Town Council and most recently Holsworthy Town Council, after a unanimous vote at their Dec 2022 meeting to support Connect Bude.

“With passenger numbers at Okehampton already at 240% above the predicted usage, it only goes to show that once rail lines are reopened the public vote with their feet, celebrate the improved connectivity, embrace the green option and take to the rails. Now let’s get on with it quickly and level up all the way to Bude!”