ACE Rail: EXTENDING THE GWR BARNSTAPLE TO EXETER SERVICE BACK TO BIDEFORD
Atlantic Coast to Exeter Railway – ACE Rail - is the campaign name for reconnecting Bideford to the national rail network via the Tarka Line to offer a modern, fast, mainline rail service to central Exeter. Launched in 2021, the campaign has already succeeded in attracting the support of local MPs, and of local authorities which have adopted its aspirations with Council Motions of support. This is no longer a pipedream - Bideford is set on a realistic and achievable route to be reconnected by rail to Barnstaple, central Exeter and the rest of the South West’s mainline rail network.
Next stop Bideford?
Over 31,000 residents make Greater Bideford (including East-the-Water, Appledore, Northam, and Westward Ho!) the largest urban population in Devon and the South West, and one of the largest in Britain still without the economic, social and environmental benefits of a rail service. Bideford is in Torridge district which is ranked as one of the economically lowest-achieving areas in the UK.
A fast mainline Bideford-Barnstaple-Exeter rail service would:
1. Bring reliable public transport to Bideford and Barnstaple with competitive journey times to
central Exeter – around 60 minutes from Bideford, 50 minutes from Barnstaple.
2. Add new transport choice and capacity needed to meet the travel needs of a growing area.
3. Transform economic and educational prospects for Greater Bideford and Barnstaple people and
businesses with 21st -century access to the county’s primary economic hub, its capital city.
4. Bring social value to this corner of Devon by opening-up opportunities to local communities,
seeking a more prosperous and resilient future for all.
As well as help in creating employment and learning opportunities, it will enhance the
profile and perception of the local area, and help the
community engage with the railway and the opportunities it will bring, reinvigorating an identity for this area of north Devon as an attractive place to live, work, visit and enjoy.
ACE Rail is supported by North Devon District Council, Torridge District Council, Torridge & West Devon MP Sir Geoffrey Cox KC, North Devon MP Selaine Saxby, North Cornwall MP Scott Mann, Bideford Town Council, Barnstaple Town Council, Bishop's Tawton, Chittlehampton, Eggesford, Tawstock, and Wembworthy Parish Councils, Fremington Parish Council (provisional), Crediton Town Council, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport and chair of sub-national transport body Peninsula Transport (Andrea Davis), OkeRail, Tarka Rail Association (part of Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership), North Devon Liberal Democrats, and North Devon Green Party.
The ACE Rail campaign, part of Tarka Rail Association, is affiliated to Railfuture and has also received support from Great Western Railway's Customer and Community Improvement Fund.