THE RAILWAY from Tavistock to Plymouth can be built in five months but it will take five years because of the paperwork, a public meeting has heard.

Campaigners are pushing for the work, which involves laying five miles of rail track, to be speeded up so the service can begin before 2029.

The government has confirmed £150 million for the project, subject to an updated business plan being approved.

Funds were announced in last year’s autumn statement, following the decision to scrap the extension of the high speed rail HS2 from the West Midlands to Manchester and divert cash to transport improvements across the country.

Network Rail is writing a business case for Tavistock, and will submit it this summer with a decision expected in the autumn.

It was standing-room only at Tavistock Town Hall for a public meeting organised by Britain Remade, a group lobbying for better infrastructure, more investment and new industry throughout the UK.

The group has chosen the rail project in Tavistock as one of its top priority campaigns.

The rail link is phase two of a bigger plan to get the whole of the northern route reinstated from Plymouth to Exeter, creating a second railway to the South West.

Phase one was the Dartmoor Line from Okehampton to Exeter, restored in November 2021, and hailed as a success.

Phase three and the final piece in the jigsaw is Tavistock to Okehampton, which is more complicated as it could involve building a new viaduct at Meldon or major repairs to the current one.

In February 2014 the region’s only rail line to the region along the South Devon coast was cut off for eight weeks when storms battered Dawlish.

Chairman of local campaign group Tavi-Rail Richard Searight said the South West economy lost £1 billion, roughly what it would cost to restore the entire northern line.

He said the inland route would be “more resilient” than the coastal one.

In the first two years of the Dartmoor Line, there were more than 550,000 passenger journeys, far exceeding expectations.

Mr Searight said it had been “magic” and he expected Tavistock to be every bit as popular and provide an economic boost to the town.

He urged people to email their MPs, stick posters in their window and join the campaign to push it forward.

Land has been set aside at The Tors development on Callington Road for the station and car park and planning permission granted by West Devon Borough Council.

Trains will run hourly to Plymouth, taking just over half an hour to do the trip, and no changes will be required. The service will not affect the Gunnislake to Plymouth ‘Tamar Valley Line’ which will remain a two-hourly service.  Signalling will be updated at Bere Alston.

A good shuttle bus service would be needed to take people to the station in Tavistock, as it is some distance from the town centre, said residents.

By Alison Stephenson