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Success at the ACORP awards 2009, with, from left to right, Peter Craske, winner of the award for the best marketing publication for the Tarka Line Walks booklet, John Phillips, chairman of the Tarka Rail Association with a copy of the winning booklet, and Mike Day, winner of the award for the best station/train retail outlet for the Stationmasters Cafe at Barnstaple. Watch the video here.


Regular users of Barnstaple Station will have seen a number of improvements carried out recently all of which are designed to improve passenger and interchange facilities.

The construction of the Western By-pass was the start of the process with the construction of the new car park, bus only link road and taxi rank all forming an integral part of the road scheme. The station has been equipped with a hearing loop equipped low level ticket counter, significantly improved toilets, including a new one for disabled people, automatic entrance doors to the Ticket office and new waiting room seats.

The construction of the link road resulted in a number of bus services calling at the railway Station, including most importantly the Stagecoach services to Bideford and other destinations.  The existing bus shelter was life expired and no shelter was provided for people waiting for the all important link to the Town Centre.  Provision of two smart new shelters and lettered bus stops has considerably enhanced the waiting environment for interchanging bus passengers with full timetable information.

More recently the area in front of the station entrance was enlarged to improve circulation space, to remove a trip hazard and to improve drainage.  The platform has been extended to provide more waiting space, including the provision of a covered cycle shelter and additional benches.

At an early date it was agreed that the Station should revert to heritage green and cream and this colour scheme has been applied to the ticket office/waiting room. Finally, replica green directional signs have been provided in heritage style to complement the green and cream colour scheme.  All signing has been replaced and this has drawn together all the elements described above.  Just one job remains and that is some painting work which the Tarka Rail Association will be carrying out in September after the peak summer season.

All of this work would not have been possible without the work and joint funding of FGW and Devon County Council, the active involvement of the Tarka Rail Association and the support of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership.  Together they have achieved remarkable improvements to this increasingly busy station in true Community Railway style.
The Tarka Line Flowers Competition is held every year.  Each station along the line is invited to take part and volunteers carry out the planting and tending of the flowers.  The aim is to make the stations, all of which (except Barnstaple) are unstaffed, as attractive as possible for the enjoyment of passengers.  The Competition is organised on behalf of the Tarka Rail Association by Janet Day and First Great Western provide generous sponsorship.
Yeoford were the overall winners this year and received the Tarka Rail Association Rose Bowl and a certificate, together with complimentary train tickets from First Great Western.  The award was won by John Mountjoy (left in the photo) and Clifford Bayber.  They have worked very hard this year in transforming the station.  Their award was made special by the fact that they had taken the decision to take a traditional approach to gardening by incorporating both flowers and vegetables in the display. As an added bonus, passengers will be able to help themselves to the runner beans and other crops when ripened!
Mr & Mrs Simon Lewis are regular winners at Chapelton, and this year is no exception winning the award for best flower beds.  They have consistently maintained these to a very high standard and it is a delight to sit for a while on the platform of this fairly remote and quiet station.  Mrs Lewis is pictured receiving her Certificate and complimentary rail tickets from Julian Crow and John Phillips. 
Newton St Cyres was awarded the prize for the best tubs and planters which are an absolute delight.  The photograph shows five of the six volunteers who work at the station.  Although not judged as part of the competition, the team are working very hard to transform an area behind the platform which will provide a small garden in which to relax on the Signalman's Seat which has been erected where the signal levers used to be years ago.
The Umberleigh prize for best wildlife conservation was won by Andy Hedges who is seen in the photograph with Julian Crow, General Manger, West of England, First Great Western (left) and John Phillips, Chairman of the Tarka Rail Association (right).  Andy has carefully tended the multitude of wild flowers growing at the rear of the platform with an outstanding display of roses.  He also plants up the flower tubs and has restored the old concrete station sign seen in the background. 
Janet Day was the rightly proud recipient of the award for best kept station at Barnstaple Station, which has seen many improvements over the past year.  She has undertaken a number of innovative planting schemes with the assistance of Mike and the two Davids who were not able to be present, but to whom thanks are also due.  The future tasks at this Station are formidable as the Tarka Rail Association will, under Janet’s direction, be tackling the redundant platform seen in the background, but already sporting an new sign! 

The new Fridays only late evening train was given a traditional send off at Exeter St Davids on 7th January, for its first running in 2011, by FGW West Country General Manager Julian Crow, John Phillips from the Tarka Rail Association, and Jill Walker the guard on this service (not in this picture is Phil Gadd the driver).

Success at the ACORP awards 2011 held in Sheffield, with,  below left , John Phillips, ex chairman of TRA, winner of the top award in the Outstanding Community Rail Volunteer category, and below right, John Burch, current TRA chairman, receiving the third place award in the Local Transport Integration category

Tarka launches his walks booklet, accompanied by (l to r) DCC Councillor Nick Way, Walks booklet author Peter Craske, Richard Burningham of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, Tarka Rail Association Chairman, John Phillips and First Great Western's General Manager for the West of England, Julian Crow. Craske and Crow are among this year's ACoRP finalists.

Peter Craske (with his hiking companion, Scrumpy) nominated as one of six national finalists for ACoRP's "Outstanding Volunteer Contribution."