DURING the summer, readers would have seen the news that Crediton Town Council supports ACE Rail’s campaign to improve the existing Tarka line and extend it to Bideford.  A lot has happened since gaining the town council’s support.  

North Devon and Torridge District Councils are also backing the plan to give Bideford back its railway link, so has the MP for Torridge, Sir Geoffrey Cox, and the MP for North Cornwall, Scott Mann, as well as Barnstaple Town Council.  

ACE Rail (Atlantic Coast-Exeter Railway Project) is affiliated to Railfuture, the independent national rail development campaign group who offer guidance and have sponsored the campaign through its Fighting Fund.

Tim Steer, Tarka Rail Association and ACE rail lead, said: “One of the joys of working with Railfuture is knowing that they have a body of former senior transport planners and rail managers who know how to work a campaign into a strategic plan that is rational, viable and deliverable.  

“They recognised the success of ACE Rail's efforts in July with Railfuture's Gold Award for Best New Group in 2021-22.”

ACE Rail is now formally part of Tarka Rail Association (Barnstaple to Exeter line) with a sub-committee of seasoned group members and former senior rail management that reports in each month. 

“It gives me absolute pleasure to tell readers that thanks to GWR’s Community Fund we now have a fully-funded independent specialist advisor!  

“The consultant started work on an Initial Business Case for the ACE Rail project in September 2022 and will have a finished report due in March 2023,” added Tim.

The Tarka Rail Association is committed to two things:

 1. Upgrading the existing Tarka line; to provide more capacity, better resilience, more services and shorter end-to-end journey times.  

 2. Extending the Tarka line to Bideford to double the catchment area with a new route for a modern fast rail link.  


The MP for North Devon Selaine Saxby has met with the ACE Rail representatives and Devon County Council lead for Environment, Climate Change and Transport Andrea Davis (who happens to chair Peninsula Transport and is president of the Tarka Rail Association) at Barnstaple Stationmaster’s café to hear about progress with the campaign.  

North Devon Council has agreed that extending the rail network to Torridge can only bring economic prosperity for that district and so a motion of support was passed.  

Torridge District Council also had the ACE Rail presentation and that too brought a motion of support.  

Having both Local authorities in the Joint Planning Policy Committee "resolve that the Bideford to Barnstaple rail link is considered as part of the People and Place project" has meant that executive officers of both district councils have to put a new rail link on the new joint local plan.


Sir Geoffrey Cox KC MP for Torridge met with ACE Rail, Bideford town council and the Regional growth manager for GWR at Bideford railway station to hear the reasons why Bideford is now one of GWR’s top three priorities for reinstated rail links in Devon.  

“It was a real honour to hear Sir Geoffrey say how much he supports ACE Rail and wants to see its representatives next year with the Initial Business Case report in Westminster,” commented Roger Blake, Railfuture Infrastructure and Networks director.  

The MP for North Cornwall Scott Mann met the ACE Rail team and supports the extension to Bideford as his constituents can then have a new railway station that is closer to his constituency, meaning they could benefit from a new connecting bus service.


Barnstaple Town Council asked the ACE Rail lead to attend a full council.  The town council agreed to fully support ACE Rail and to put it on its neighbourhood plan.  

Town Mayor Louisa York was quoted saying: “There is going to be a lot of work coming out of this, and I propose we support this initial phase."

ACE Rail is now on the Devon Rail Forum with all the other rail user groups and transport representatives.

Recently, GWR’s MD Mark Hopwood CBE was requested by Andrea Davis to attend a meeting in Barnstaple about the existing line’s challenging and somewhat frustrating service performance.  

Mark met with the Tarka Rail Association to discuss how better capacity services were needed and no more cancellations.  The GWR MD has now set up a task force to work on these ongoing frustrating issues.  

While at Barnstaple station, the Tarka Rail Association’s ACE Rail team showed Mark Hopwood the new officially recognised ACE Rail banner.