OKERAIL, the partnership supporting the recent reinstatement of daily passenger train services on the Okehampton to Crediton and Exeter Dartmoor Line, has announced that there will be a suspension of the Great Western Railway train service — but with rail replacement buses operating — during the February half-term week so that Network Rail can carry out essential improvement work near Yeoford.

The bridge repair work in the Penstone area could not be completed before the opening of the line on November 20, but needs to be done now before the train service is increased from two-hourly to hourly later in the year.

The Tarka Line service between Barnstaple and Exeter will also be affected.

A spokesperson for Okerail said: “The work includes steelwork and brickwork repairs beneath the bridge, which means the road under the bridge will be closed.

“There is also track removal, breaking out concrete, grit blast, painting, water proofing, new drainage and trackside fence installation above the bridge which will result in both Tarka and Dartmoor lines being closed. The line will be closed Saturday, February 19 to Sunday, February 27, inclusive.”

Okerail has also given forewarning that the Dartmoor Line will also be closed for two weeks in May so that work can be carried out to remove two speed restrictions on the line, and which needs to be completed before the service frequency increases to hourly.

Okerail explains: “One of the restrictions is at Fatherford, where under track needs to be completed. The second is at Coleford Junction. At the moment this is 20mph.

“This needs to be remedied to enable the hourly service to work. There are also some earthworks that needs to be done in a couple of places too.

“We will remind people nearer the time for the May closures — however dates we have at the moment are: Monday, April 25, to Monday, May 9, inclusive.

“A rail bus replacement service will be operated while the service is suspended.”

For more information and a map of where the February work is being carried out can be found at okerail.org.uk/line-closure-february-half-term-and-other-essential-work-in-may