Torbay and South Devon passengers are set to benefit from more frequent trains between Newton Abbot, Torre, Torquay and Paignton as part of Citizens’ Rail.
Four extra services each way will run between Newton Abbot and Paignton (also calling at Torre and Torquay), and there will be a further two additional stopping services each way between Exeter St Davids and Paignton.
Beginning on 9 December the new timetable means that there are at least two trains per hour throughout most of the day. The new services will provide more connections at Newton Abbot with main line trains to and from Exeter, Plymouth, Bristol and London.
The improved service is thanks to Citizens’ Rail – the EU project to develop local and regional railways in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Along with the extra trains, the project will also see improvements made to stations on the Riviera Line between Paignton and Exeter, a major marketing campaign, work to involve the community in the line and a new officer employed at the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership to coordinate activities.
Local partners in the project – which is 50% funded by the EU’s INTERREG IVB programme – include Devon County Council, Torbay Council, First Great Western, Plymouth University and the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership.
Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, said:
“We know from local experience that having more frequent trains is key to attracting new passengers. We hope that, as patronage grows, services can develop to meet our aim of two trains an hour between Exeter and Paignton. Working in partnership in this way provides the best opportunity to achieve this.”
Torbay Council’s Executive Lead for Highways, Transport and Environment, Cllr Ray Hill, said:
“This is a major step forward for Torbay’s railway, the Riviera Line. We welcome the extra journeys made by the additional train, which complements the work already undertaken between Torbay Council and First Great Western, providing improvements to the appearance of the stations. Not only will they make local public transport journeys even more convenient, they will also mean easier and more reliable connections to main line services to travel up and down the country. This is vital in attracting rail passengers to come and visit Torbay.”
First Great Western’s General Manager West David Crome said:
“First Great Western is committed to supporting the communities we serve. Following the success of our community rail lines in Devon and Cornwall, we are delighted to partner in the Citizens’ Rail project.
“The additional services will make using the train much more attractive during the week, and our fares are also good value when compared with the price of driving and parking.”
Project Manager, Richard Burningham of the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership said:
“By being part of this international project, we will be able to learn from rail expertise from across North West Europe. A big part of Citizens’ Rail is about getting people involved with their railway. Local residents and community organisations will be asked what improvements they would like to see and there will also be lots of opportunities too for volunteers to get involved, from lending their gardening skills to helping with redecorating.”