The cost of reinstating railway lines to modern standards can be significant. This is therefore only likely to happen where there is a compelling reason to do so. But with the demand for rail growing year on year, investment in rail capacity between and within our major cities is proving essential. So this report asks – by way of a case study – whether it is now time to consider whether railways in rural areas should be expanded, too.
CPRE, the countryside charity, commissioned Greengauge 21 to examine the wider impacts of reopening the Plymouth – Tavistock – Okehampton – Exeter railway, as a second main line for Devon and Cornwall. Until now, the investment case has been driven by a need to ensure that the South West is not cut off by severe weather and landslips on the existing line. The event driving the examination of this proposal was the lengthy closure of the line after sea damaged the railway line at Dawlish in February 2014.
So far, little consideration has been given to how a second line could better serve the rural area through which it passes. This report considers these local economic and social impacts of such a move.