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Rail passengers in the South West can expect more reliable journeys because of improvements to CrossCountry’s Voyager trains.

With more instances of severe weather presenting challenges to transport, CrossCountry made significant changes to its trains to ensure they can continue working in stormy weather along the exposed sea wall on the South Devon coast.

Previously, in conditions when a train could be struck by waves coming over the sea wall, Voyagers were not permitted to operate between Exeter and Newton Abbot as their onboard systems could fail from the effects. This left passengers having to use other services to complete their journeys and an impression that the region’s train connections to the Midlands and North could not be relied upon.

A series of extensive modifications have now been concluded and successfully tested on the Voyagers. This means they can now work in the same conditions as other trains, ensuring a more resilient service to support the region’s important long-distance leisure and business connections.

Alongside the train improvements, Network Rail is investing over £80 million to protect the railway along the South Devon coast. Together, these important investments by the rail industry will ensure the South West remains a key part of the national railway network.

Huw Margetts, CrossCountry’s Regional Director for West & Wales, said: “We’re really pleased with the improvements to the Voyagers, which significantly enhances the reliability of our trains and connectivity to the South West that is vital for the region’s economy.

“We’ve worked closely with local businesses and other stakeholders to ensure our services can be relied on by everyone looking to come and enjoy the region’s beaches and popular destinations.”

Councillor Andrea Davis, cabinet member Devon County Council for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, and chairman Peninsula Transport said: “Reliability and resilience are the top priorities for our residents, businesses, and visitors. This is welcome news for all of us in the South West, the popular CrossCountry route is vitally important to our region and with this improvement travellers can be reassured that journeys will not be subject to weather conditions, increasing confidence in the network.”

Alina Wolfe-Murray, Network Rail senior sponsor, said: “The improvements to CrossCountry’s Voyager trains are more great news for railway passengers in the south west. They will further enhance the reliability and enjoyment of journeys for passengers travelling to and from the south west along this iconic stretch of coastal railway.

“The new £80m sea wall – part of our South West Rail Resilience Programme – is already helping to prevent delays and disruption to passengers by helping to stop the tracks flooding and allowing the line to reopen more quickly after major storms. Both the train improvements and the new sea wall will help to maintain access to a vital transport link for people and businesses in the region.”

Trevor Butler, Senior Commercial Director, Beacon Rail said: “Beacon Rail is proud to have played a part in this great example of cross-industry collaboration to ensure Voyagers, the backbone of the Cross Country fleet, will maintain rail services to and from the South West during challenging conditions at Dawlish.”