Barnstaple’s rail link to Exeter is set to be boosted by more seating and an earlier first train of the day.

The changes are part of a revamped Great Western Railway (GWR) timetable, which is set to come into effect in December.

The Barnstaple line's Class 143 Pacer trains are set to be replaced by longer, more modern trains - a move that will increase seats by 17 per cent.

An earlier first train of the day will arrive at Exeter St David's just after 7.30am, which GWR said is 'in line with customer aspirations'.

Richard Burningham from the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership said: "This is great news for the local and regional economies of Devon and Cornwall, for the environment, and for rail customers.

"More seats, more trains and faster journeys will help with inward investment, with the switch from cars to public transport and will be a great support for visitors and commuters alike."

GWR is restructuring trains between Devon and Cornwall and London as part of the timetable change - its biggest in more than 40 years.

Three more services a day will run between Paddington and the south west, running non-stop between Reading and Taunton.

A two-hourly semi-fast service between Paddington and Exeter St Davids will call at Reading, Newbury, Pewsey, Westbury, Castle Cary, Taunton and Tiverton Parkway.

The new timetable is expected to come into effect on December 15, and should be published three months before launch.