Representing users of the Barnstaple to Exeter rail line
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LATE TRAIN CONTINUES INTO 2012
The later last train on FRIDAYS  introduced in 2010 continues to be increasingly appreciated  and used by those living or staying along the line, and we are pleased to confirm that this extra service will continue to run in the new 2011/2012 timetable from 11th December 2011.

This service departs from Exeter Central  22.48 and arrives into Barnstaple at 23.59

October 2011
CONNECTION INTO SLEEPER ON FRIDAY NIGHTS

Commencing on Friday night 16/17 Dec 2011 the additional train introduced from the  22 May 2010 timetable leaving Barnstaple at 0005 (Saturday only) and arriving at Exeter St Davids at 0100 on Saturday morning is NOW scheduled to connect with the London bound sleeper service (available for both sleeper and seated passengers) leaving St Davids at 0106, arriving Taunton at 0135, Reading at 0400 and London Paddington at 5.13.
October 2011
STILL  HEADING FOR 500,000 THIS YEAR!

November 2011

Period
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
% 09 - 11
% 10-11
1     (10 Jan - 6 Feb 11)
17952
21340
22253
26780
30921
38.9
15.5
2     (7 Feb - 6 Mar)
18924
26461
26146
30455
35498
35.8
16.6
3     (7 Mar - 3 Apr)
18207
20931
25793
24343
29751
15.3
22.2
4     (4 Apr - 1 May)
22564
24560
32967
38849
41439
25.7
6.7
5     (2 May - 29 May)
22741
25442
28857
32218
36708
27.2
13.9
6     (30 May - 26 Jun)
26004
27892
29916
35818
42405
41.7
18.4
7     (27 Jun - 24 Jul)
25320
30271
33042
37203
43456
31.5
16.8
8     (25 Jul - 21 Aug)
29400
34216
38558
44356
49539
28.5
11.7
9     (22 Aug - 18 Sep)
27633
32735
34296
39708
44980
31.2
13.3
10   (19 Sep - 16 Oct)
24481
27920
30414
34917
40716
33.9
16.6
11   (17 Oct - 13 Nov)
26658
29220
29649
36588
39955
34.8
9.2
12   (14 Nov - 11 Dec)
20218
21229
28342
34194
13   (12 Dec - 8 Jan 12)
21028
25676
26782
31336
Total
301131
347893
387015
446795
435638
31.2
14.2
GOODBYE TO THE 142’s !
The 27th of October saw the last day in service for the 142 series units that had been “borrowed” from Northern Rail whilst awaiting 150 series units cascaded from the West Midlands. A special farewell tour was organised, details of which can be found in the Gallery section of this website. Passengers can now look forward to a more comfortable ride - now we just need more capacity!
November 2011
INTERNATIONAL  AWARD FOR BARNSTAPLE
Barnstaple station has been named the overall best small rail station in the UK and Ireland. The announcement was made at the sixth annual International Station Awards, which took place at the Cobh Heritage Centre in Cork on November 24th and involved eight major rail companies from across the UK and Ireland.

November 2011
MORE JOURNEY OPPORTUNITIES
FROM NEWTON ST CYRES
From the start of the new timetable new journey opportunities have been created, due to the rearrangement of stops at the station. These are detailed in the document here
December 2011

Period

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

% 09 - 11

% 10-11

1     (10 Jan - 6 Feb 11)

17952

21340

22253

26780

30921

38.9

15.5

2     (7 Feb - 6 Mar)

18924

26461

26146

30455

35498

35.8

16.6

3     (7 Mar - 3 Apr)

18207

20931

25793

24343

29751

15.3

22.2

4     (4 Apr - 1 May)

22564

24560

32967

38849

41439

25.7

6.7

5     (2 May - 29 May)

22741

25442

28857

32218

36708

27.2

13.9

6     (30 May - 26 Jun)

26004

27892

29916

35818

42405

41.7

18.4

7     (27 Jun - 24 Jul)

25320

30271

33042

37203

43456

31.5

16.8

8     (25 Jul - 21 Aug)

29400

34216

38558

44356

49539

28.5

11.7

9     (22 Aug - 18 Sep)

27633

32735

34296

39708

44980

31.2

13.3

10   (19 Sep - 16 Oct)

24481

27920

30414

34917

40716

33.9

16.6

11   (17 Oct - 13 Nov)

26658

29220

29649

36588

39955

34.8

9.2

12   (14 Nov - 11 Dec)

20218

21229

28342

34194

40253

42

17.7

13   (12 Dec - 8 Jan 12)

21028

25676

26782

31336

36470

36.2

16.3

Total

301131

347893

387015

446795

512091

32.3

14.6

FINAL FIGURES FOR 2011
HALF A MILLION PASSENGERS FOR THE FIRST TIME!
January 2012
NEW GROUP ADVOCATES STATION CLOSURES
A newly formed local transport group has called on the Government to radically restructure the Tarka Line to improve services for rail users.

North Devon Public Transport Users, which aims to improve and co-ordinate transport in the region, wants the Exeter to Barnstaple line upgraded, with fast hourly services, better trains and carriages plus fewer station stops.

The group has submitted its suggestions to the Department for Transport’s consultation on the refranchising of the Great Western service, which includes the Tarka Line, as a new operator is sought from 2013.

“It is absurd that a population in excess of 100,000 in North Devon only has a train service that takes well over an hour to travel the 39 miles to Exeter, on poor quality rolling stock which is all too often severely overcrowded,” the group said.

“We believe the line has for far too long been primarily regarded as a scenic rural branch. It is time that the DfT and Devon County Council agreed that its true potential is as an important inter-urban link.”

Although the campaigners say they understand major investment is unlikely at this time, they feel better use could be made of the existing asserts.

“We believe that the smaller communities on the line would be better served by concentrating on three intermediate stations,” they said.

The group has also called upon Devon County Council to recognise this and co-ordinate existing bus services with the trains.

Please note that this organisation has no connection with the Tarka Rail Association, and the TRA is not in agreement with its suggestions.


          Barnstaple Interview 29/2/12





    Copplestone Interview 28/2/12


February 2012
INTERVIEW.mp3 news 3.mp3







% 10 - 11

% 11 - 12

Period

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012



1     (4 Jan - 31 Jan 12)

21,340

22,253

26,780

30,921

34,507

15.5

11.6

2     (1 Feb - 28 Feb)

26,461

26,146

30,455

35,498

40,095

16.6

13.0

3     (1 Mar - 31 Mar)

20,931

25,793

24,343

29,751

38,031

22.2

27.8

4     (1 Apr - 2 May)

24,560

32,967

38,849

41,439

44,540

6.7

7.5

5     (3 May - 30 May)

25,442

28,857

32,218

36,708

42,250

13.9

15.1

6     (31 May - 27 Jun)

27,892

29,916

35,818

42,405

45,849

18.4

8.1

7     (28 Jun - 25 Jul)

30,271

33,042

37,203

43,456

45,082

16.8

3.7

8     (26 Jul - 22 Aug)

34,216

38,558

44,356

49,539

48,273

11.7

-2.6

9     (23 Aug - 19 Sep)

32,735

34,296

39,708

44,980

48,484

13.3

7.8

10   (20 Sep - 17 Oct)

27,920

30,414

34,917

40716

46,153

16.6

13.4

11  (18 Oct - 14 Nov)

29,220

29,649

36,588

39,955

51,486

9.2

28.9

12   (15 Nov - 12 Dec)

21,229

28,342

34,194

40,253

31,748

17.7

-21.1

13  (13 Dec - 9 Jan 13)

25,676

26,782

31,366

36,470

27,021

16.3

-25.9

Total

347,893

387,015

446,795

512,091

543,519

14.6

6.1

January 2013
E-PETITION RAISED TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS
Regular passenger Alice Johnstone is fed up with the travelling conditions regularly experienced on the first train of the day from Barnstaple, and also the late afternoon trains from Exeter. These services are regularly overcrowded and require strengthening with extra carriages. She had created an e-petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/40913  and hopes that all users, and also members of the Association, will support it and add their names. The petition will remain open until October 2013, so there is plenty of time to add names.
November 2012
FINAL PASSENGER FIGURES FOR 2012
The passenger figures for the last two periods were considerably reduced due to line closures for track replacement, and subsequent severe flooding.







% 11 - 12

% 12 - 13

Period

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013



1     (4 Jan - 31 Jan 13)

22.253

26.780

30.921

34.507

36.909

11.6

7.0

2     (1 Feb - 28 Feb)

26.146

30.455

35.498

40.095

45.043

13.0

12.3

3     (1 Mar - 31 Mar)

25.793

24.343

29.751

38.031

41.982

27.8

10.4

4     (1 Apr - 2 May)

32.967

38.849

41.439

44.540

43.617

7.5

-2.1

5     (3 May - 30 May)

28.857

32.218

36.708

42.25

43.983

15.1

4.1

6     (31 May - 27 Jun)

29.916

35.818

42.405

45.849

49.151

8.1

7.2

7     (28 Jun - 25 Jul)

33.042

37.203

43.456

45.082

46.388

3.7

2.9

8     (26 Jul - 22 Aug)

38.558

44.356

49.539

48.273

50.458

-2.6

4.5

9     (23 Aug - 19 Sep)

34.296

39.708

44.980

48.484

51.158

7.8

5.5

10   (20 Sep - 17 Oct)

30.414

34.917

40.716

46.153

49.435

13.4

7.1

11  (18 Oct - 14 Nov)

29.649

36.588

39.955

51.486

47.107

28.9

-8.5

12   (15 Nov - 12 Dec)

28.342

34.194

40.253

31.748

51.353

-21.1

61.8

13  (13 Dec - 9 Jan 14)

26.782

31.366

36.470

27.021

40.578

-25.9

50.2

Total

387.015

446.795

512.091

543.519

597.162

6.1

9.9

January 2014
FINAL PASSENGER FIGURES FOR 2013




Released over the Easter Bank Holiday!

Tarka Line Walks --
“the definitive walking guide to mid-Devon.”



Since Victorian times visitors in their thousands have flocked to Devon to explore her scenic moors. Now, for the very first time, comes an intriguing alternative: an award-winning walking guide to the undiscovered and immensely picturesque countryside of mid-Devon. These Low Carbon walks (each starts from a railway station between Exeter and Barnstaple) vary in length from two to 8.5 miles. Route-finding is easy; every walk (more than 325 miles in all) is accompanied by its own Ordnance Survey map. Author Peter Craske has known the area since the 1940s, and offers expert insight to the villages, local lore and transportation changes that have taken place over the past two centuries in Glorious Devon’s scenic heartland.

Tarka Line Walks is a 136-page full-colour book featuring 60 self-guided walks from each of the thirteen stations along the 39 mile route. “The line passes through some of the finest scenery in Southern England,” notes Julian Crow, FGW Regional Manager for the West of England. “With this book we hope to introduce both locals and visitors to the countryside made famous in Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter, and with the hourly timetable that’s now operating on weekdays -- the best service the line has ever had -- planning of walks has never been easier.”

Many walks are ideal for children, and list pubs, shops and tearooms along the route. “You’ve no idea just what’s out there until you head away from the track,” confides Peter Craske, who spent several years researching the walks and going over every inch of the ground with Scrumpy, his 12 year-old rescued labrador. He promises his readers “just about everything from picturesque villages to ancient watermills, from a highway lined with gallows to a rector tried for murder.”

Craske is quick to stress the health and environmental implications of the project. “In these days of dire predictions about rising obesity rates and associated health problems, walking can do wonders for middle age spread (and doubtless other spreads!),” he observes. “And taking the train, instead of the car, is gentle on the environment. This way you’ll barely leave a carbon footprint.”

Advance copies have been enthusiastically greeted by press & public alike:

“At last, the definitive walking guide to mid-Devon! A real treasure-trove, full of interesting historical facts and ideal for locals & visitors alike. Peter Craske’s knowledge and advice make it an essential must-have.”
Crediton Courier

“I've been a keen walker for 40 years, but can honestly say that I have never before seen such a professionally produced walking guide that also makes the reader positively want to travel by train as an inherent part of the day out. I've seen a few guide books in my time. Yours is probably the very best I have ever read.”
NG., Kingsbridge, Devon.

“I absolutely adore the style of the book. I have seen many, many such publications over the years, but the layout and design style rarely comes up to this kind of standard. I feel sure that many will find it incredibly useful for years to come.”
J.B., Ilfracombe, Devon.

“A model of what walks guides should be . . . Just reading it makes you want to get on the next train and go there.”
P.S., Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

Tarka Line Walks is produced by the Tarka Rail Association (TRA) in partnership with First Great Western, and is published by the UK’s leading publisher of walking guides, Crimson Publishing, well-known for their popular Pathfinder Guide series.

Available April 1, 2013 from all good bookshops,the Stationmaster's Cafe at Barnstaple Platform 1. Amazon.co.uk. & Guardianbookshop.co.uk
RRP £9.99.  ISBN: 978-1-78059-1827        

Peter Craske will be signing copies of Tarka Line Walks at:

Stationmaster’s Cafe, Barnstaple        Saturday, April 13, 9.30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

Official Tarka Line Walks Launch Party: Saturday 6th April at Exeter St. David’s (10:00 a.m) & Barnstaple (11:45 a.m.) stations followed at the latter by catered reception. For (free) press or invited guest tickets including return travel between Exeter & Barnstaple  .

CONTACT:

For interviews, photos, book signings, launch tickets & advance press review copies, contact:

PETER CRASKE:    Tarka Line Walks, Author. (01837) 849071
                                Press Officer, Tarka Rail Association.
or:

CAITRIONA HORNE or CLAIR BLANCHFIELD: Crimson Publishing. (020) 8334-1600
Listen to Peter’s interview with David Fitzgerald on Radio Devon here
NEW LONG TERM STRATEGY LAUNCHED
At the Group’s AGM on the 25th of October a new long term strategy was launched, to take the Exeter to Barnstaple rail line into the 2020’s, and to cope with the anticipated demand from over 2 million passengers by then.

Copies are available on request from the Group using the email link on this site, or viewed/downloaded by clicking on the image below.
aspirations.pdf


First Great Western (FGW), working in partnership with the Tarka Rail Association (TRA) and Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, has just announced a “Shoppers’ Special” fare saving off-peak customers 50% on some journeys.


Available from November 1, the fare will enable passengers joining morning northbound Tarka Line trains to Barnstaple to travel for half the regular off-peak day-return fare.


The offer is available from Exeter Central, St. David’s and St. Thomas, Polsloe Bridge, Digby & Sowton and all Tarka Line Stations. The adult off-peak day-return fare from Exeter to Barnstaple will be £4.85 instead of the normal £9.70 and £3.95 from Crediton to Barnstaple, instead of the present £7.90.


Dan Okey, FGW’s Regional Development Manager (West), said: “First Great Western is proud to support the communities we serve. Train services are vital to the local economy, which is why we are working with the local community to improve services and to offer greater value to our customers. We are delighted to announce this offer, helping those who fancy a trip to Barnstaple for the pannier market or to the many pubs and walks accessible from the line.”


Passengers may travel on any northbound morning train up to and including the 11:27 departure from Exeter St. David’s, Mondays to Saturdays (dep. Crediton 11:38; Yeoford 11:44; Copplestone 11:49; Morchard Road 11:52; Eggesford 12:08; Umberleigh 12:23.)


Return by any scheduled southbound train leaving Barnstaple on the same day.


On Sundays all northbound trains up to and including the 12:10 departure from Exeter St. David’s are also included in the offer.

Children (5-15 years) are able to travel at half the reduced fare and railcard holders may also claim their normal discounts. GroupSave reductions are available for groups of three or more adults travelling together.


John Phillips, TRA Chairman noted that “two of TRA’s goals are to encourage better use of lightly loaded services, hence today’s announcement, while tackling overcrowding on heavily used trains. In a few weeks’ time, I hope to address the second issue with details of additional rolling stock being assigned to two of the line's most overcrowded services.”


Like the idea of travelling half-price? Well, you can make a habit of it. “Shoppers’ Special” fares will remain in effect until 31 March 2015.


October 2014

BARNSTAPLE OFF-PEAK RAIL FARES SLASHED 50%!
CHRONIC OVERCROWDING OVER HALF TERM

In view of the many problems faced by passengers and prospective passengers on the Tarka Line during the half term holiday (27th - 31st October) the Association have sent the following communication to the relevant people at First Great Western.



Subject: HALF TERM PERFORMANCE ON THE TARKA LINE


Firstly can I say that the Tarka Rail Association (TRA) are fully aware of the shortage of rolling stock and we greatly appreciate the efforts that have gone into the SX strengthening of the 0700 and 1657 trains from December and for the rolling stock allocations at weekends in an effort to resolve some of the worst overcrowding problems.


However, the recent half term week was a catalogue of poor or non-existent service and we wish to raise this complaint on behalf of passengers.  There were a number of cancellations and short formations.  The main problems that have been brought to our notice by passengers have related to the 0843 and 0943 departures from Barnstaple.  Passengers have:


A)   Been diverted onto coaches or taxis


B)    Been standing all the way from Barnstaple to Exeter – ie for over an hour and on one occasion there were observed to be in excess of 80 persons standing from Crediton on a Class 143 Pacer


C)   Decided not to travel or travel by car instead.


Furthermore, people have expressed concern at the safety implications of the overcrowding as well as very strongly worded general dissatisfaction with such travelling conditions, especially on those occasions when not even an apology was given.  The fact that the conductor was not able to get through the train to issue tickets gave rise to even greater anger for those travelling to the City centre who were faced with queues at the barriers to purchase tickets.  Indeed on one occasion there was only one person present to do this.


Whilst 70% of journeys on the line are to and from Barnstaple, the remainder are from intermediate stations.  If a train leaves Barnstaple full and standing, it means that passengers from these stations stand little chance of boarding, let alone getting a seat.  This is a real problem for older or less mobile passengers.


We are also concerned for those passengers who have connections to make at St Davids, especially train specific reservations on SWT and XC services as well as FGW.


This situation generates bad publicity for the line and puts people off.  It arises to a greater or lesser degree in all school holidays.


As stated above, we are fully aware that at present there are no additional diesel multiple units available for FGW to lease, but we do consider that resources should be temporarily reallocated during school holiday periods to enable key trains to be strengthened.  After all Barnstaple Station is the railhead for the whole of rapidly growing North Devon where there is clear evidence of year round heavy demand during school holidays, whether from local people or from the very many visitors who come in what has become a year round tourist season.


We look forward to this matter being given careful consideration and look forward to, hopefully, a positive response.  In the meantime, we will be putting this representation on our website.


John Phillips

Chairman

REPRESENTATION TO THE AUTUMN STATEMENT

The government has been seeking views on what organisations and individuals would like to see in the Autumn Statement 2014, which will take place on 3 December. This is the response from the Tarka Rail Association.



The Tarka Rail Association is a long established body representing users of the Exeter – Barnstaple Railway Line.  It’s president is Mel Stride MP and vice presidents are Sir Nick Harvey MP and Dr Ian Harrison.


We wish to ask for the following in the forthcoming Autumn Statement:


1       Commitment to the next phase of Railway Electrification to include Newbury and Bristol to Plymouth with associated line speed enhancements.


2       Commitment to the next phase of electrification to include Basingstoke to Exeter, in both cases to improve the quality of service, provide greater capacity and to release good quality diesel rolling stock for use elsewhere.


3       Commitment to the construction of a dynamic passing loop between Exeter and Honiton in order to provide paths for two trains per hour between Exeter and Axminster and also to better facilitate use of the line as a diversionary route.


4       In furtherance of the Prime Minister’s undertaking that “money will be no object” to agree to the re-instatement of the Okehampton –Tavistock railway in order to provide a local service as well as a diversionary alternative at times of disruption along the Dawlish sea wall route.



We hope very much that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to accommodate these improvements as part of the Government’s commitment to enhancing the infrastructure of the nation

TARKA LINE 25TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATED

On Thursday, 27 November, First Great Western (FGW) named a train to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the launch of the project which has helped transform the line linking Barnstaple with Exeter.





















The train, one of the branch’s regular two coach Class 150s, was named “The Tarka Line, the first 25 years 1989 -2014” at Barnstaple station prior to a meeting of the Tarka Line Forum. The forum began life as the Exeter - Barnstaple Line Working Party at the beginning of the line development project and has met regularly ever since.


As part of the project, the working group came up with a brand name for the local railway service and the Tarka Line was born, launched at Barnstaple station in October 1989.


Devon County Council and British Rail were the prime movers behind the line development project, which was so successful that it was quickly expanded to cover other rural branch lines in the far South West, creating the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, a non-profit partnership supported by First Great Western, local authorities and others, based at Plymouth University.


As well as the County Council and First Great Western, North Devon Council, Barnstaple Town Council and the Tarka Rail Association are among those represented on the Tarka Line Forum.


November 2014