Tarka Line

Tarka Line

Infobox generic
color = #efefef
name = Tarka Line|
img1 = Tarkalinelogo.jpg|
lbl1 = Location
row1 = Devon, England
lbl2 = From
row2 = Exeter St Davids
lbl3 = To
row3 = Barnstaple
lbl4 = Distance
row4 = convert|39|mi|km|0
lbl5 = Status
row5 = Community railway
lbl6 = Owner
row6 = Network Rail
lbl7 = Principal operator
row7 = First Great Western
lbl9 = Freight operators
row9 = EWS|
hdr2 = Connecting routes|
lbl21 = At Exeter St Davids
row21 = Avocet Line
London to Penzance Line
Riviera Line
lbl22 = At Crediton
row22 = Dartmoor Railway|
hdr3 = Infrastructure|
lbl31 = Line speed
row31 = convert|55|mph|km/h|abbr=on
lbl32 = Number of tracks
row32 = 1
lbl33 = Route Availability
row33 = 6
lbl34 = Freight gauge
row34 = W6A|
hdr4 = History|
lbl41 = Opened
row41 = 1851 - 1854
lbl42 = Built by
row42 = Exeter and Crediton Railway
North Devon Railway
lbl43 = Subsequent owners
row43 = London and South Western Railway
Southern Railway
British Railways

The Tarka Line (named after the animal hero in Henry Williamson's book "Tarka the Otter") is a railway line from Exeter to Barnstaple in Devon, England. The line follows the River Yeo and the River Taw for some of its route. At Coleford Junction there is a branch to Okehampton, which has recently reopened to passenger trains as the Dartmoor Railway.

Communities served

The towns and villages served by the line are listed below:
*Newton St. Cyres
*Morchard Bishop
*King's Nympton
*Portsmouth Arms (a pub!)


Parts of the line are single track, meaning that trains travelling in opposite directions must sometimes wait for each other. The full journey from Barnstaple to Exeter takes just over 1 hour, on-par with the journey time in a car.

Beyond Barnstaple, the railway used to continue to Ilfracombe or Instow and Bideford. Part of the latter route is preserved as the Bideford & Instow Railway, while sections of both routes have been reopened as cycleways on the Tarka Trail.


Passenger services on the line are operated by First Great Western using Class 142, Class 150 or Class 153 diesel multiple units. During the summer months a Sunday-only service operates (on behalf of Devon County Council) between Exeter Central and Okehampton.

Passenger volume

The majority of passengers travel to or from Barnstaple – about three times the number of all the other stations north of Exeter. Chapelton is the quietest station in Devon. Many of the smaller stations have seen a decline in passenger numbers during the last few years, although there have been significant increases at Umberleigh and Eggesford, and on the line overall. Comparing the year from April 2006 to that which started in April 2002, passenger numbers at Barnstaple have increased by 35%. [cite web|title =Station Usage|work =Rail Statistics|publisher =Office of Rail Regulation| url=http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1529|accessdate = 2008-06-30] The statistics are for passengers arriving and departing from each station and cover twelve month periods that start in April.

Community rail


The Tarka Line rail ale trail was launched in 2002, the first of several such schemes which encourages rail travellers to visit pubs near the line. The trail originally covered 16 pubs, became as many as 19, but is currently just 18 pubs. There are five pubs each in Exeter and four in Barnstaple, with one each at Newton St Cyres, Crediton, Yeoford, Copplestone, Morchard Road, Lapford, Eggesford, Portsmouth Arms, and Umberleigh. 5, 10 or 18 stamps collected in the Rail Ale Trail leaflet entitle the participant to claim special Tarka Line Rail Trail souvenir merchandise.

Wessex Trains covered Class 150 2-car DMU number 150241 in coloured pictures promoting the line and named "The Tarka Belle". It is still in service with First Great Western and works throughout its network, not just on the Tarka Line,

The line was designated by the Department for Transport as a community rail line in September 2006. This aims to increase revenue and reduce costs. Among possible options are increasing the car parking at stations, looking at ways to increase the train frequency, and assisting the Dartmoor Railway to operate a connecting service between Yeoford and Okehampton.

ee also

*Tarka Trail


*cite book | last = Nicholas | first = John | title = The North Devon Line | publisher = Oxford Publishing Company | date = 1992 | location = Sparkford | id = ISBN 0-86093-461-6
* Department for Transport, Rail Group (2006), "Route prospectus for the … Tarka Line"'

External links

* [http://www.carfreedaysout.com/ Great Scenic Railways in Devon and Cornwall.]
* [http://ndrailusers.wikispaces.com/ North Devon Rail Users Group.]

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