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Crediton-Barnstaple rail line to close for renewal works

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The Tarka Line between Crediton and Barnstaple will be closed for 16 days next month for track renewal works.

November’s renewals will take the total amount spent on the line to £9.3 million this financial year.

The nine-mile stretch of track has an average age of 55 years, with some components dating back to 1942.

Network Rail’s Western route managing director, Patrick Hallgate, said: “This is the biggest spend on the Tarka Line in more than 100 years and is certainly the largest single investment in the line since approximately £4.6m (today’s prices) was spent on re-modelling the junction and replacing the bridges at Cowley Bridge, Exeter in 1965.”

The company will start work in two weeks’ time renewing track at Lapford and also between Eggesford and Portsmouth Arms.

Further track renewal improvements are planned between Crediton and Yeoford and in the Umberleigh and Chapelton areas next March.

As part of the programme, the line will be closed for major track renewal works from Saturday, November 17 to the morning of Monday, December 3.

In both November 2012 and March 2013, the railway will remain open for trains as far as Crediton, with replacement road transport being provided between Crediton and stations to Barnstaple.

John Burch, chairman of the Tarka Rail Association, said “We are delighted that this work is going ahead on the Tarka Line at long last. We have been involved in discussions about these plans for a very long time.

“We have worked hard to raise the profile of the Tarka Line and attract investment to improve the service offered. Our ultimate aim is to see faster services on the line and an increase in line capacity to cope with the huge increase in the number of people using the Tarka Line in recent years.

“We realise that suspension of the train service over parts of the line is a huge inconvenience to customers, but this is the best and quickest way to undertake this extensive work.”

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