A new train service proposed by First Great Western to strengthen business links between the Westcountry and London has been approved by the Department for Transport.
From December, the new early morning train will leave Paddington at 0706 and arrive in Paignton at 1017, allowing people travelling from London to do a fuller day’s business in the region.
By making a simple cross-platform change at Exeter St Davids or Newton Abbott, customers can be in Plymouth by 1040, Truro at 1200 and Penzance at 1240.
The service was not included as part of First Great Western’s original franchise agreement, but the company has been hoping to include it in its regular schedules for some time.
The announcement of the new service has been welcomed in the region.
Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Economic Development, William Mumford, said: “We are delighted that First Great Western will be running an earlier train from Paddington to Exeter and Torbay.
“The County Council has consistently supported this; a 9.30 arrival in Exeter will support the economy of the city and surrounding area, which has shown significant growth in the last decade.
“People will be able to come from London and do a full day’s business - this will be crucial in expanding our business base at major sites such as the Science park and Skypark.”
Joint Chair of the South West Transport and Infrastructure Board, and Torbay Mayor Nick Bye said: “This a real boost for tourism. Torbay, Dawlish and Teignmouth need more trains to London and this is a step in the right direction”
“The timing, which caters for business people wishing to make trips from the capital to Torbay and for those on holiday who prefer not to change trains, is particularly welcome”.
Joint Chair of the South West Regional Development Agency’s south west Transport and Infrastructure Board, Nick Buckland, said: “We’re delighted that First Great Western have successfully taken up the case and this train will make a day’s business in South Devon more realistic.”
“The business community has pressed for an earlier arrival in Torbay and Plymouth from London for some time.”
Devon and Cornwall Business Council Chief Executive, Jeremy Filmer-Bennet said: “ We are delighted by the announcement of two extra HST services for the west country this will further enhance the the opportunity to growth economies of Devon and Cornwall, as well give a greater real connectivity for business in the region.
First Great Western Regional Manager, Julian Crow added: “An earlier fast service to Exeter and Torbay has been a big aspiration for us for many years, as has the opportunity for a direct morning service back from Torbay to London
“This will be a real benefit to the local economy, both for business and tourism, and the unanimous response from across the region in support of this has been a great help.
“The influential support we’ve received from Exeter City, Torbay and Devon County Councils, and the wider business community has been tremendous during the consultation process for this service, and we’re extremely grateful. We look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”