£16m vision for Lynton to Barnstaple Railway
- Credit: Archant
Plans go on show to extend the heritage railway by another four miles and create 78 local jobs.
Major plans for a four mile extension of the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway went on display to the public on Saturday.
The charitable trust which operates the narrow gauge heritage railway hopes to reinstate the original route between Killington Lane, where it currently ends, and Wistlandpound Reservoir.
The £16m project, labelled Phase 2 A, will need seven planning applications and will include major schemes in their own right, including changing the Old Station Inn back to a station and railway visitor centre as well as pub and restaurant.
As well as repairs to bridges and the reinstatement of the Parracombe Bank, washed away in the 1952 flood, it is also proposed to improve the Blackmoor Gate area with railway buildings and amenities plus create two houses at Parracombe.
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The original railway closed in 1935, but a short stretch reopened in 2004.
Planning applications are set to be lodged in May or June, with a decision expected by the end of the year – then the trust would set about applying for funding to make it happen.
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Project manager Ian Cowling said the ultimate vision was to get the line back into Barnstaple and Lynton: “We have had a number of Government ministers visit who are interested in the railway, so the project is being noticed at cabinet level,” he said.
“More than 200 people have come through the exhibition and the response has been very favourable. We’ve seen far more people than we expected and one or two very useful suggestions have been made, which will enhance the project.
“This phase would create 78 new jobs, 20 on the railway and another 50-plus in the local economy.”
Wilfred Webber from Challacombe said he thought it was a good idea: “It would definitely bring people in for train rides and I think it could quite well be something this area has sorely missed.”
Anja Fischbach added: “I can see it going ahead. You get the impression of the landscape when you’re on a train like that – it’s very relaxing and I think people will want to come and experience that.”