THE EXETER PLYMOUTH RAILWAY
Exeter & Crediton Railway, Plymouth, Devonport and South Western Junction Railway
LSWR acquires the E&CR
The necessary track was installed and LSWR trains ran to Crediton from 1 February 1862, when a lease of the E&CR line to the LSWR became effective. The lease was renewed for seven years from 1869, and the line was doubled on mixed gauge from 1 June 1875.
The LSWR dominated the E&CR board and shareholding, so independence was illusory, and the line was operated as a part of the LSWR (although a daily broad gauge goods train continued to run). The Bristol and Exeter Railway amalgamated with the Great Western Railway and other companies from 1 February 1876, the combined company using the title Great Western Railway (GWR). Negotiations took place for the LSWR to buy out the GWR shareholding in the E&CR. Not without difficulty, this was agreed and the purchase was valued at £217,687; as a majority shareholder itself, the LSWR paid out only £81,256. The transfer was effective on 26 June 1879.
The Exeter and Crediton line for a long time effectively part of the LSWR; it had long been controlled by it, and the neighbouring North Devon Railway had been acquired in 1865, so that having aquired the Exeter to Barnstaple line was just a branch of the LSWR and the LSWR's plan to reach Plymouth by a completely seperate route continued apace.
The main line to Plymouth was opened progressively from 1862 to 1876, relying at first on running powers over the South Devon Railway; an independent route by-passing the competing South Devon Railway was opened from Lydford to Devonport 1890.
The rocky coast of North Devon was reached in 1874 when the Ilfracombe branch from Barnstaple was opened.
Holsworthy was reached in 1879, after which Cornwall was brought into the LSWR network with the opening of the North Cornwall Railway progressively in the period 1886 to 1892, and the line was extended from Holsworthy to Bude in 1898, completing the Okehampton to Bude Line.