Second platform and more trains?

A SECOND platform at Exmouth Railway Station could be built and services doubled to cope with rising passenger numbers.

A SECOND platform at Exmouth Railway Station could be built and services doubled to cope with rising passenger numbers.

The Exmouth to Exeter Avocet Line is the busiest in the South West with a million journeys made in 2007 - four times more than the other six branch lines in Devon and Cornwall.

But this unprecedented nine per cent increase has put a strain on the half-hourly service, especially at rush hour, and the Avocet Line Rail Users' Group has been campaigning for increased capacity.

Now, following a meeting of the Devon and Exeter Rail Project Working Party, a strategy is being drawn up for the next 20 years.

A report from the working party - involving Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and rail users' groups - calls for services to be increased from two an hour to four, the enlargement of some platforms to cope with four-car trains instead of just two and an additional passing-loop at Lympstone.

Ian Harrison, Devon County Council's director for transport, wrote in the report: "It is possible to contemplate a more frequent service, with trains operating at a 15-minute headway, but this would require significant new infrastructure, additional passing loops are required, with track doubling needed between Polsloe Bridge and Digby and Sowton, and an additional platform being introduced at Exmouth station."

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Lympstone's Tony Day, the chairman of the Avocet Line Rail Users' Group, said: "This is not a new idea - we have been actively campaigning for this for a long time.

"We are pleased that it is now on the agenda and council officers are now seriously looking at it."

Darryl Nicholas, Mayor of Exmouth and East Devon District Council's 'Exmouth Champion', said: "We are working very hard to regenerate Exmouth and ensure it takes its rightful place as a world-class visitor destination, as well as a continuing to be a great place to live.

"Good public transport for leisure and commuting are a key part of that aspiration. Getting people out of cars and onto public transport is a vital in combating climate change.

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