A trial which has seen Sunday train services doubled in number has been branded as ‘very encouraging’.

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The first pilot half-hourly Sunday rail service between Exmouth and Exeter has been well received by passengers, says a spokesman for the line’s users.

A count of passengers on the first Sunday of the six-week trial has been hailed as a success.

Tony Day, chairman of the Avocet Line Rail Users Group (ALRUG) said: “Our figures show that the new trains in the timetable were used right from the start, with a significant overall increase in the number travelling, compared to the previous week when the service was only every hour. Passengers we spoke to very much welcome a more frequent service – and hope, like us, that a successful pilot will result in this becoming permanent.”

The trial has been made possible by Community Rail funding, with further support from Devon County Council.

First Great Western will run additional trains each Sunday from November 18 to December 23 to give a half hourly service between 10am and 6pm.

Lympstone and Halsdon county councillor Bernard Hughes was on hand to “flag away” an additional train with a borrowed green flag.

Cllr Hughes, chairman of the Devon and Exeter Rail Project Working Party, said “These extra trains running through to St David’s will make connections with the main line much easier – as well as benefitting Christmas shoppers in Exmouth and Exeter.

“If the trial proves successful then Devon will work with the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, ALRUG and the train operating company to consider further such improvements. Our aim is to see enhanced rail capacity across the Exeter travel to work area.”

The additional train services are being part funded by the Department for Transport, Network Rail and Association of Community Rail Partnerships through the Designated Community Rail Development Fund.

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