• Trains / Children

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    06 July 2018


    Last week I caught up with Matt Barnes the Regional Development Manager at GWR to get an update on progress on their feasibility study for running a regular rail service between Okehampton and Exeter via Crediton. I have had a number of meetings with the Secretary of State for Transport (including last week) to discuss our infrastructure in the South West and have pressed hard on this. In the past I have brought the previous Secretary of State for Transport to Okehampton to meet stakeholders and to walk the line with me out to Meldon Quarry. I also secured a visit by Rail Minister Claire Perry to Okey to listen to local views and made sure that when we disembarked the Okey to London special train service last year that Paul Maynard the then Rail Minister was there to meet us so that we could lobby still further. So, back to Matt Barnes; the good news is that the work is progressing. There are clearly a number of challenges around this new rail proposal not least the state of the track which will need to be robust enough to handle far heavier usage and also to have the communications technology available to make sure that signalling can be operated effectively. Level Crossings need to be assessed, earthworks investigated (where a significant level of top soil may be required to be removed). The work undertaken by GWR is following on from that carried out by DCC (via the Jacobs Report) into the options around a possible new rail station to the East side of Okey. There is a lot to cover but the Government has made it clear that we want to move forward and has instructed GWR to bring forward their proposals ‘at the earliest opportunity’. It is my role now to keep the pressure up and of course to help wherever I can. One of my top priorities as a local MP is to see the Okey rail service delivered – this is a long term endeavour but one I am determined should come to fruition.


    It was great to welcome Bow Primary School to Westminster last week. The House of Commons have excellent facilities to accommodate school visits including providing a great tour of Parliament. I try and see every school that comes so that they can quiz their MP. The most common question I am asked is ‘have you met the Queen’. To which the answer is yes but only on a small number of occasions. Her Majesty is a natural conversationalist and very easy to talk with. Last week I also held a very useful discussion with a constituent involved with Children and Adolescent mental healthcare delivery. This was really helpful in informing me around some of the key issues that the government has recently consulted on in this area. The significant additional funding that we are putting into the NHS should help and I will follow this element very carefully.

    Twitter @MelJStride