Marsh Barton railway station takes shape. Credit: Devon County Council

Motoring with Peter Vosper: How will you get to work in the future?

Peter Vosper

I have often been critical of the lack of public transport in Devon and Cornwall outside the cities and understood why many locals needed a car to access the job they wanted.

Therefore, I must applaud the news that Exeter’s new railway station at Marsh Barton is on course to open this winter.

This £16 million investment, which has a two-platform halt, will also include a new pedestrian and cycle bridge, access, parking and turning area combined with a pedestrian and cycle path.

Ironically, Marsh Barton is not only Exeter’s largest trading estate but is also home to one of the largest motor dealer parks in Europe where virtually every brand has a presence and ensures the site in employment terms is one of the largest in the region.

The belief is this investment will encourage further growth as well as help existing businesses recruit and bring new customers to Exeter.

Councillor Duncan Wood, Exeter City Council’s lead councillor for climate change, said: “The new station and its improved transport links will make Marsh Barton and the west of the Exe so much more accessible to those travelling by train, bicycle and on foot.

“With the added benefit of a new cycle and footbridge, commuters, visitors and shoppers will be able to make the short journey without having to rely on the car and that has to be good for everyone – cutting congestion, reducing our carbon emissions and improving peoples’ health and wellbeing.”

Once complete, Marsh Barton station is to be served by hourly Great Western Railway services between Paignton and Exmouth, with additional services at peak times.

The new station will service 7,000 people employed at Marsh Barton and there are development plans for at least 2,500 new homes in the area.

It should be remembered that many motor businesses are required to provide demonstration vehicles and that these are currently driven by their employees.

With more and more of these becoming powered by electricity, this will also reduce carbon emissions and improve peoples’ health and wellbeing.

Many motor manufacturers are looking for fewer points of representation to sell and service their products.

These are likely to be large regional hubs which will help grow employment in Exeter, Plymouth and Truro, but mean more journeys for those in rural areas.

There is no question that there have to be less vehicles in city centres and the train will provide one of several alternatives, but where councils have encouraged development for motor businesses in large estates on the edge of cities, access for people in cars needs to continue.

The current investment in electric vehicles will also require service facilities with highly trained technicians to ensure the vehicles are maintained in a safe condition for everyone’s benefit.

For most of us living in Devon and Cornwall cars and commercial vehicles are likely to be a necessity for some years to come.

Written by Peter Vosper, chairman of the Vosper group