Trainspotters' delight as first passenger services run on new Okehampton to Exeter rail line

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Rail enthusiasts were delighted to see the new line carrying its first passengers. Credit: ITV News

The first passengers travelled on the new Dartmoor railway line today for the first time in 50 years.

The Okehampton to Exeter line was officially opened by the Transport Secretary earlier in the week - and on Saturday (20th) the long-awaited route got properly up and running.

The new line was made possible through tireless community campaigning. Credit: ITV News

The new 14-mile line takes passengers between Okehampton, Crediton and Exeter in 40 minutes.

It has been the result of tireless work from locals, and a £40million Government investment and has taken 11 miles of new track, 24,000 concrete sleepers and 29,000 tonnes of ballast.

Stuart Calvert, from Network Rail, said: "It's tremendous for the community and for people who want to come into Dartmoor, because this will open up the whole of north Dartmoor to the rail network."

Matt Barnes, from Great Western Railway, added: "We wanted to make this a line that wasn't just about the railway re-opening, but something for the community."

The new line will 'open up the north of Dartmoor' to visitors and tourists. Credit: ITV News

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described its return as a "milestone moment" in the government's effort to restore the UK's railways.

He added: “Reversing lost railway connections breathes new life into our high streets, drives tourism and investment in businesses and housing, and opens new opportunities for work and education.”

The line takes passengers from Okehampton to Exeter in 40 minutes. Credit: ITV News

Mark Hopwood, GWR Managing Director, said: “We have long campaigned for the re-opening of this important local line.

“The project to re-open the line is already helping to bring social and economic benefits to the local area reinforces the positive impact the railway can have on the communities we serve,” he added.