“Worthy celebration” planned for opening of Cranbrook railway station

PUBLISHED: 17:28 25 November 2015 | UPDATED: 08:58 26 November 2015

Cranbrook Railway Station. Ref mhc 3523-37-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Cranbrook Railway Station. Ref mhc 3523-37-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

AFTER many postponements, Cranbrook railway station will finally open on Sunday, December 13.

And Cranbrook Town Council is planning “a worthy celebration” for this “eagerly awaited occasion”, including breakfast rolls, hot drinks and music.

The first train – bound for Pinhoe, Exeter Central and Exeter St David’s (where you can change for London Paddington) – leaves Cranbrook at 8.46am.

A train for Whimple, Honiton, Salisbury and London Waterloo leaves at 9.39am.

Trains will continue during Sunday once an hour until 10.35pm.

National Rail Enquiries has just published the station’s timetable and you now can buy tickets online.

From Monday-Saturday, trains will stop at Cranbrook from 6.22am, connecting to Pinhoe (4 minutes), Exeter Central (9 minutes), Exeter St David’s (13 minutes) and London Paddington (2 hours 34 minutes).

Trains to Whimple (5 minutes), Honiton (14 minutes), Salisbury (1 hour 26 minutes) and London Waterloo (3 hours 10 minutes) will start at 6.54am.

Cranbrook Town Council (CTC) has announced details of its “worthy celebration” for Sunday, December 13. The event starts at 8am and finishes at 9.45am.

A “community gathering”, there will be breakfast rolls and hot drinks available from the Butter Me Up catering van, accompanied by music played by the Maynard School Band.

“The opening of the new railway station will be a very welcome event in Cranbrook and the surrounding villages,” said Kevin Blakey, CTC chairman.

“There is no doubt that it has been a long time coming, but the fast nine-minute connection to the centre of Exeter will now be a reality, as well as a direct service to the heart of London. It will be an occasion worthy of celebration, and the town council will be working with the railway companies and others to mark the event with an opening ceremony for the first passenger train to stop.”

One of the main amenities that the majority of residents have been calling for, Cranbrook station has been beset by problems.

Originally expected to open in 2013, detailed planning didn’t take place until summer 2014 with construction beginning that autumn. A possible opening date of February 2015 was dashed when Network Rail said that the contractors had encountered “unforeseen problems”, including a main sewer under the station which meant it had to adapt its original designs.

High temperatures in July meant it couldn’t carry out “vital work” to the track as it would have resulted in buckling. The work was postponed until September, followed by finishing touches to the platform construction and signalling system.

A November opening date came and went, but now everything looks set for Sunday, December 13.

“It is great news to hear that the station will be open in time for Christmas and that people will be able to use the service to get into Exeter and elsewhere for Christmas shopping and to enjoy the Christmas festivities,” said Kim Bloxham, CTC councillor and chair of the Amenities Committee. “To have a direct link to London will be a real asset to Cranbrook and the surrounding villages.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “All parties involved in this project are working towards the station being open for services to call at Cranbrook from Sunday, December 13.

“We are looking forward to this key milestone, which will provide Cranbrook residents with a convenient and regular rail connection on the London Waterloo line, linking the new town to Exeter and other major destinations, including Salisbury and London.”

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