THE new First Great Western timetable, which comes into effect on December 12, contains significant service improvements for users of the Barnstaple to Exeter “Tarka Line.”

On Mondays to Fridays, beginning on December 13, the first departure from Barnstaple will leave at the new time of 07:00 (07:30 from Eggesford) arriving at Exeter St David’s at 08:08 -- eight minutes earlier than its predecessor -- to provide a seamless connection with the 08:14 Exeter St. David’s departure for South Devon, Plymouth and Penzance.

On Fridays only, beginning on December 17, a new late-evening train will depart Exeter Central at 22:46, and Exeter St. David’s at 22:50 calling at most stations including Morchard Road (23:20), Eggesford ( 23:32) and Barnstaple (23:59).

This new service will enable Tarka Line travellers to enjoy an evening out in Exeter without the worry of driving home on wintry roads. The Tarka Line stayed open throughout last winter’s snows. It will also provide a late connection to North Devon for those returning from London day-trips and also for those visiting North Devon for the weekend.

The early morning Sundays only service, launched last May, has proved popular and will continue throughout the winter. This service departs Exeter St. David’s at 08:39, (from Crediton 08:55; Morchard Road 09:11; Eggesford 09:25; Umberleigh 09:41) arriving Barnstaple at 09:52. The return service departs Barnstaple at 10:00, arriving Exeter St. David’s at 11:00.

By year’s end, Tarka Line annual passenger journeys are expected to exceed 400,000 for the first time in the line’s history. The new winter timetable represents a collaborative effort between First Great Western, the Devon County Council and the Tarka Rail Association, a volunteer group representing the interests of line users.