Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Planning permission has been granted to lay 267m of railway track to create new Torrington attraction.
IT’S been 30 years since the last train left Torrington along the Tarka Line, but seeing a locomotive puffing down the track could become a reality once more.
After nearly two years in the making, a planning application submitted by the Tarka Valley Railway Group to rebuild 267.68m of track alongside the Tarka Trail has been approved.
The group, made up of more than 200 members, hopes the track could run short rides for visitors and locals for up to 40 days a year from the Puffing Billy pub.
Rod Garner, secretary of the group, was keen to stress the attraction would run alongside the popular cycle path.
“We don’t want to take the Tarka Trail away; in fact, the first thing to do now is to realign the cycle track and put a fence alongside it,” he said.
“We also need to begin looking at fundraising, although it’s a bit early to say exactly how much we will need to raise.”
The group hopes the track could follow a similar success to that of the Barnstaple to Lynton railway.
“They’re now a wonderful success, pulling in around 30,000 people a year; imagine what that could be like here,” added Mr Garner.
“On the days the trains are operating, part of the plan is to run a bus service from the Puffing Billy up to the town.
“Families could come and have a ride on the train, then get a bus into Torrington and visit other attractions such as 1646 and spend money in local shops and businesses.”
Phil Simkin, chairman of the group, said he believed the attraction would be great news for the town.
He said: “Projects like these can make a huge contribution to the local economy and would make a significant difference to Torrington.
“All our work is done by volunteers, and a lot of hard work and emotions have gone into these plans.”
In 2008, the group was successful in being granted planning permission to lay 36m of track at the Puffing Billy.
“Of course it’s not realistic at the moment to say we could run the track back to Bideford or Barnstaple, but that would be a very long term aspiration of ours,” said Mr Garner.
For more information on the project visit: www.tarkavalleyrailway.co.uk.