THE money spent on laying down just four miles of HS2 track would be sufficient to restore the northern rail route from Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton and Tavistock to a high standard with a double track, the rebuilding of Meldon Viaduct as well as safeguarding the railway via Dawlish, writes Christine Williams.

This information was given by OkeRail technical advisor Chris Bligh at a meeting of Connect Bude which was held at the Falcon Hotel on Tuesday, June 19. Mr Bligh and his wife were attending for the first time and were able to draw on their knowledge and experience of railways.

Asked how Connect Bude could best support Okerail he recommended support for a service to both Okehampton Town and the new Okehampton Parkway stations, albeit with a single platform and hoped that an Exeter to Okehampton service would start in 2020.

The meeting agreed to form a subgroup to make the case for reopening the line to Holsworthy and Bude using the ‘Rail Reopening Toolkit’.

This involves calculating the benefit/cost ratio by proving that opening the line would be worth doing from the point of view of business, connectivity, journey-time-saving and reduced use of cars resulting in reduced carbon emissions.

Seven new members had joined in the past month making a total of 144 members and supporters. Plans were made for pop-up membership drives in the coming weeks at Holsworthy Memorial Hall and at the Triangle in Bude as well as on the Bude Heritage Festival (July 28 and 29)

The chairman, Richard Wolfenden Brown, read out questions to be put to Scott Mann MP at a meeting scheduled for June 29.

Mr Mann would be asked if he supported the aims of Connect Bude. How could he help to ensure improved connectivity for his North Cornwall constituents with a new daily service from Okehampton via fast, frequent, comfortable, direct and integrated bus links? Could he encourage Cornwall Council to subsidise such a service? What advice could he give Connect Bude as to how best to campaign to reconnect Bude and Holsworthy to the national railway network so that, as his website states, ‘it becomes easier and faster for the people of North Cornwall to travel by rail’? Was he committed to supporting the complementary route to Plymouth via Okehampton/Tavistock (as well as Dawlish)? How realistic did he consider Connect Bude’s long-term aim of reopening the rail line to Bude, thus removing the dubious accolade of Bude being the furthest town in England from a mainline railway station?