the leader of a rail group petitioning for the return of the Tavistock to Bere Alston railway says he is ‘optimistic’ of its return as he issues a rallying cry to people in Tavistock to attend a key meeting about the project.

A public meeting to discuss the Tavistock Plymouth Railway Restoration project will take place at the Bedford Hotel in Tavistock on Wednesday (April 6) at 7pm. There is room for 50 people.

Speaking at the meeting, to which mayor of Tavistock Andy Hutton has been invited, will be key figures from railway company GWR and Devon County Council involved in the bid.

Richard Searight, who is chair of the Peninsula Rail Group, said they would be updating members on progress of the bid promoting the restoration of the Tavistock to Plymouth line mentioned in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget last year.

They will also speak about what was involved in preparing for the return of the Exeter to Okehampton service.

Mr Searight said that in his 10 years of campaigning for the return of the Tavistock to Bere Alston railway line, he had never been so confident as now of success.

This follows the allocation in the Chancellor’s budget of £50,000 for a fresh bid to the Government for funding to reinstate the track and infrastructure. That bid is currently being prepared by the county council.

‘We are optimistic for this firstly because it was mentioned in the autumn budget, that has never happened before,’ he said.

‘If everyone is of one voice and pushing for it that is a massive help and that is why we are calling this meeting. It really is an historic event. We all need to get behind the bid and we are hoping it will happen this time.

‘I have been campaigning on this for 10 years and I have never seen things moving as they are now, with the Okehampton service going so well. They are getting 2,500 passengers a week. If we can unite behind it now, then we can see this happen for Tavistock too.’

The meeting at the Bedford Hotel on Wednesday will hear from Matthew Barnes, who is Great Western Railway’s head of strategic service development, and Jamie Hulland, transportation strategy and road safety manager at Devon County Council.

They will give a progress report on the bid promoting the restoration of the Tavistock to Plymouth line. The bid to the Department for Transport is being compiled by Devon County Council in consultation with rail company GWR and instrastructure company Network Rail.

The speakers will also be talking about the £40m feat of engineering involved in bringing the rail service back to Okehampton, which was completed under budget and earlier than scheduled.

Mr Searight added: ‘It is all very exciting to get the detail of what is going to happen.’

He said he was encouraging people to come along.

‘The enthusiasm of the public is so important in determining whether we get the train back,’ he said.

‘There are so many benefits for people in Tavistock. The first one is it makes Plymouth a place you can work in and commute to by rail. It is also extremely important because it will take traffic off the A386.

‘A rail service would be a huge boost for the town.

‘People will be able to come and shop and go to Goosey Fair and do all the things that people like about Tavistock and of course it means we in Tavistock can go to Plymouth easily and cheaply ourselves.’

The event is free, but booking is essential as space is limited. Please email [email protected]