A NORTH Cornwall campaigning group have said that ‘opportunities exist’ to reconnect the local area to the rail network.  

Connect Bude have been campaigning for the reconnection of rail links to the coastal town. In an exclusive release for the Post, the group has expressed that there is hope for a vital and regular public transport link.  

Speaking to the Post, a spokesperson from the group explained: “Greater Bude and Northern Cornwall have suffered poor connectivity for many years - called ‘The Rail Desert’ for good reason. The 2021 reopening of the already successful Dartmoor Line to Okehampton was much needed, but hoped-for opportunities have been only partly realised.  

“Public transport is key to prosperity. While far more people use buses, train services have a positive economic effect out of all proportion to numbers of journeys made, and on life chances, access to essential services and employment.

“But the area continues to suffer. Bude is the largest Cornish town away from the rail network, but unlike all other comparable, smaller, Cornish communities it alone does not enjoy hourly buses to a railhead.”  

However, the group believe there is opportunity to rectify this, using established infrastructure.  

The number 6 bus service runs every three hours and takes passengers between Bude, Holsworthy and Okehampton Station. In an effort to improve connectivity, Connect Bude, alongside OkeRail, have engaged in discussion with Cornwall Council and Devon Council.  

A spokesperson continued: “Bus 6, shared with Devon, is an outlier to the rest of Cornwall’s bus network concept in everything from branding to fares and contract management. But of course this should not mean that Northern Cornwall misses out: rather it requires Cornwall to adopt a different approach with Devon to exercise its responsibilities to all areas fairly.”  

The group have also expressed that the opportunities provided by the Dartmoor Line have not yet been full realised by county councils.  

“Since last September its connections at the station continue to be extremely poor. The ultimate irony is that all that positive commitment to reopen the line has not translated into commitment to get people to the line.  

“Connect Bude with OkeRail has recently engaged both councils with a proposal to improve bus service 6: an hourly frequency, better connections, better vehicle quality and fully utilising real-time information, with collaborative route governance with rail and community input to make it a ‘full-fat’ bus branch-line.  

“Funding is key, but opportunities exist.” 

The group report that both councils have responded “cautiously but positively” and have now asked residents for their support by raising the issue with local councillors.  

“Your supportive local councillors now need active shows of support from the community to make this a reality.”

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