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First train calls at Cranbrook station
Highly anticipated train services to Cranbrook called at the town’s new rail station for the first time on Sunday 13 December.
The first train calling at Cranbrook Rail Station, on the Exeter to London Waterloo line, was the 0846 from Salisbury, taking passengers to Exeter Central in under 10 minutes before continuing on to Exeter St Davids.
It’s the first mainline station to be opened in Devon in more than 20 years, since Ivybridge opened in 1994.
Cranbrook residents including members of the recently formed Cranbrook Town Council were among those who got up early to travel on the first train from the new town. They were joined by Maynard School band, performing to celebrate the momentous occasion.
The station serves the growing community of Cranbrook, which is one of the UK’s fastest growing towns. The town now has around 1,200 households with a population of just under 3000 and is likely to reach 8,000 homes over the next 10 – 20 years.
Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council, said: “The train service is a game changer for Cranbrook. It will be massively exciting to see the trains stopping at the new station and local people using the service for work, college and leisure too.
“There are now a wide range of sustainable travel options for Cranbrook residents and the opening of the train station means another very welcome green travel option is available.”
Kevin Blakey, Chairman of Cranbrook Town Council, said:“We are absolutely delighted that the station will be open from this Sunday. Cranbrook being on the train travel map is an important occasion for the town. Not only is it now easier for people to travel to and from Exeter, but Cranbrook also has a direct link to London. This is a significant step towards the development of a vibrant commercial and cultural future for the town.”
Devon County Council and the Cranbrook New Community Partners have funded the project, which has been delivered on their behalf by Network Rail.
The single platform station will be served by hourly services on the existing Waterloo Line, operated by South West Trains.
The station has been developed with the potential to reinstate a second track and the site also includes bus and taxi facilities, bicycle parking and a 135 space car park.
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, said: “This marks a major milestone in the development of the new town and Cranbrook residents now have convenient and direct access to and from Exeter where they can travel into the city centre in less than 10 minutes. This is the second new rail station to open in Devon this year, and it is another fundamental part of our Devon Metro scheme. It is also a key element of the transport strategy for Cranbrook, alongside the half-hourly bus route and the network of walking and cycling routes, which provides a good choice of travel options.”
John Halsall, Network Rail route managing director, said: “We’d like to thank Devon County Council for funding a new station at Cranbrook providing important new rail links into Exeter, Salisbury, Basingstoke and Waterloo for everyone who lives and works in the area. We were delighted to be asked to build the new station and know how much people in the area are looking forward to services starting at Cranbrook.
“Investment in rail is a vital ingredient in helping local people and economies thrive. Travelling by train has never been so popular and passenger numbers continue to grow to record levels so this new station will help enormously. Our Railway Upgrade Plan for the area is to improve the railway for passengers and communities connecting people and creating economic benefits across the South West.”
Chris Ellis, Area Manager for South West Trains, said: "The opening of Cranbrook station is a welcome boost to the local community and we are proud to operate the train service here. We will be offering regular services to Exeter St Davids as well as Salisbury and London Waterloo. You can view our full timetable and book tickets online at southwesttrains.co.uk."
Councillor Peter Bowden, Devon County Councillor for Broadclyst and Whimple, said: “I am, as are many others, delighted that Cranbrook Station will open at last. The local interest in the inauguration of this service is massive and I am sure the service will be fully utilised. We all wish the rail users of Cranbrook the very best of good fortune into the future.”
An official station opening ceremony will take place early in 2016, when the brand new train station is fully furnished and all facilities are available.
Passengers will be able to purchase tickets and travel to and from the town by train from a ticket machine.