THE volunteer Tarka Rail Association (TRA), is demanding a series of improvements on the 39-mile route between Exeter and Barnstaple. They include: n The expansion of the current hourly train service to 18 hours a day, and the provision of a late-night

THE volunteer Tarka Rail Association (TRA), is demanding a series of improvements on the 39-mile route between Exeter and Barnstaple.

They include:

n The expansion of the current hourly train service to 18 hours a day, and the provision of a late-night train from Exeter to Barnstaple departing at around 23:00;

n Enhancements to the track to achieve Barnstaple - Exeter journey times of less than one hour while maintaining the current station stopping pattern.

n The provision of more modern Class 150/153 three-car trains to improve passenger comfort and to boost seating capacity on the route, which today carries 90 per cent more passengers that it did in 2001.

The 18-page TRA report comes in response to a Network Rail Route Utilisation Strategy document issued for consultation in September.

TRA Chairman John Phillips is keen to emphasize the vital role that a local voluntary group can play by responding constructively to network and corporate planners. "We have an unrivalled knowledge of the issues that most affect passengers day-to-day, and we see it as our job to make sure the planners are fully aware of passenger needs and concerns that otherwise might go unnoticed," he said..

"We view our report very much as part of a cooperative process. The Tarka Line has experienced greater passenger growth than any other route in the West of England. A collaborative effort between all the major stakeholders -- Network Rail, First Great Western, Devon County Council and, in particular, the passengers who ride the line and whom we represent -- is crucial to the line's future success.