ON SATURDAY (17/03/17) Central Devon MP Mel Stride and Okehampton County Councillor Kevin Ball caught the 7.45am “Royal Oke” Okehampton train to London Paddington. Only stopping at Crediton, Exeter St David’s and Paddington, this was the first Pullman train to run between Okehampton and London in 50 years and was organised by Cllr. Kevin Ball through OkeRail to promote the popular and commercial demand for the restoration of a regular passenger service between Okehampton and Exeter via Crediton. The jam-packed train with over 500 passengers on board was met at Paddington by Rail Minister Paul Maynard.
Mr Stride has played a key role in the campaign for the past six years, organising several ministerial visits to Okehampton on the issue and met with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in Westminster in February to further press the case. Speaking on the train he said:
“More than ten thousand of my constituents in the West Devon part of my constituency are miles from their nearest station and better connectivity would provide residents not just in Okehampton but surrounding communities such as Hatherleigh, North Tawton and Chagford with a valuable local service and provide a major boost for local businesses.”
Cllr. Kevin Ball added:
“I’m overwhelmed by the success of today’s train and Mel organising the Rail Minister to meet us at Paddington was the icing on the cake. Today shows what we have known all along – that demand for better rail services in the Okehampton area is strong and a regular passenger service to Exeter via Crediton would be well used.”
Photo: Mel Stride MP, Chair of OkeRail Mike Davies and Okehampton County Councillor Kevin Ball aboard the 7.45am “Royal Oke” to London Paddington - the first Pullman train to run between Okehampton and London in 50 years.