Fight for Okehampton to London direct train goes on despite 'hiccup': video recap
The first direct train from Okehampton to London in 50 years was stopped in its tracks by flats on the wheels.
Despite the hiccup, more than 500 passengers transferred from the Royal Oke to another train at Exeter St David's Station and were able to proceed to London.
A GWR spokesman said: "Slippery conditions on a privately maintained section of the railway just outside Okehampton caused one of our trains to slide on the tracks, damaging the wheels. The train, which had been chartered by Okerail, continued to the next station where a replacement train had been arranged to complete the journey to London."
Campaigners, who organised the event to show there is high demand for regular services from Okehampton to the capital say it only heightened their calls for a service.
Michael Ireland, who is the brains behind the scheme said: "It shows the line needs to be used. The problem has occurred because the line isn't used enough. This only reinforces the need for an Exeter to Okehampton link.
"GWR have been extremely professional in the transfer of passengers to the other train. You couldn't wish for better service and even complimentary refreshments for those who were unable to get their breakfast. People will get to London, it will be a success."
Mr Ireland said that if campaigners could get a rail link, it would benefit not just Okehampton, but the whole region. "North Cornwall, to Bude, Holsworthy and Launceston will benefit economically from the new rail line," he said.
Kevin Ball, Devon County Councillor for Okehampton Rural added: "I have to give real credit to GWR, they've really worked hard to try and make it work for us. They've cancelled a train to provide a set for us to carry on so I have nothing but praise for GWR. At the end of the day, look at all these people who want to travel. That's the whole point of the message, that a regular service will be well supported."
The train left Okehampton Station at 7:45am this morning and arrived back at 9:15pm. The remarkable journey is down to the voluntary groups of Okerail Forum and Okerail CIC. The whole undertaking has been underwritten by Okehampton United Charity.
The train which left Okehampton used a route proposed as an alternative to the Dawlish line which is frequently cut off by the high tide and storm waves and had eight coaches. One 1st Class, One Pullman Dining coach and six Standard Class.
Mike Davies, chairman of the OkeRail Forum said: "To have a train of this size on such a small platform was quite difficult, but it's wonderful to see so many people from Okehampton and the surrounding area out supporting the train. It's absolutely fantastic and as we saw from the Sunday Rover back in the summer, we had 7,500 passengers over 13 Sundays and with today's event going to London it just shows there is a great demand for a daily service from Exeter to Okehampton."
Secretary of State for Transport Paul Maynard MP will be at Paddington Station to welcome over 500 people who will have travelled up from Devon on Okerail's privately commissioned train the Royal Oke.
Central Devon MP Mel Stride said: "This is a great day, it's a great day for rail, it's a great day for Okehampton, and it's a great day for my constituents. For the first time in 50 years we have a train leaving this station that's going to go all the way up to London Paddington. This is just a first step, we're going to be pushing very hard now to get this line reinstated. The demand is there, we've got 500 people on this train, and we sold the tickets out in about a fortnight.
"When we get to the other end we've got the Rail Minister there to meet us and we're going to give him a good shake and we're going to lobby him and press really hard to make sure we reinstate this line going forward."
Clive Eginton, leader of Mid Devon District Council told Devon Live when the train stopped in Crediton: "This is exceptionally important, the reason being, from a pollution aspect; it's going to help places like Cheriton Bishop because it will take traffic off of the A30 and obviously then hopefully make people use the train moving forwards. This is a first and moving forward there could be possibilities for a more regular service."What exactly is a flat spot?Passengers had to disembark today because of a flat spot - but what does flat spot mean?
A flat spot, or wheel flat, is a fault in railroad wheel shape. A flat spot occurs when a rail vehicle's wheelset is dragged along the rail after the wheel/axle has stopped rotating. Flat spots are usually caused by use of the emergency brake, or slip and slide conditions that cause wheels to lock up while the train is still moving. Flat spots are more common in the autumn and winter when the rails are slippery. Flat spots can also be caused by faulty brakes or wheelset bearings.
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