The front of Exter St Davids showcases the former GWR's flair for Art-Deco

Exeter St. Davids (Exeter)

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Those with an interest in the history of railway stations will find much to enjoy when taking a train from and to Exeter St. Davids.

All travellers will appreciate the most recent redevelopment of the station which provided a brightened entrance hall and elevators which provide a step-free route to and from the trains which use platforms/tracks 3 – 6 (all of GWR’s long-distance train services and CrossCountry’s trains use this part of the station).

But many parts of Exeter St. Davids date back to its second rebuild in 1864, the footbridges which span the station were put in place in 1912, while the signage on the footbridges and the rather fabulous art-deco frontage at the station, still look pretty much as they did when they were unveiled in 1938.

Exeter St. Davids has always been a busy interchange station as it where the two main routes between London and Devon, which are associated with the former Great Western and Southern Railways meet.
Which is why there is a choice of two entirely different routes when travelling between Exeter and London by train.

Arriving by train:

Looking from south to north along platform 5 at Exeter St. Davids Looking from south to north along platform 5 at Exeter St. Davids
The main footbridge can only be accessed by wonderfully ornate staircases The main footbridge can only be accessed by wonderfully ornate staircases
The elevators are housed within the towers on the secondary footbridge The elevators are housed within the towers on the secondary footbridge

There are two footbridges which span the station and lead to the exit.

(1) the main footbridge will be towards the front of trains which have travelled from the Taunton direction, and by the rear of trains that arrive from Plymouth.
Though despite being the main footbridge it can only be accessed by using the stairs.

(2) The other footbridge, at the northern end of the station, is the bridge that has been provided with lifts/elevators.
You may have to walk along the platform and pass the main footbridge in order to access these these lifts/elevators.

On platforms 5/6 the only access to this second bridge is by using the elevators, so if your train arrives at them and you don't mind taking the stairs, using the main footbridge will be the quickest route to the exit.

Departing by train:

Looking left on platform 1 towards the main footbridge at the station Looking left on platform 1 towards the main footbridge at the station
Looking right on platform 1 towards the secondary footbridge Looking right on platform 1 towards the secondary footbridge

At Exeter St. Davids, the express train to Plymouth and Penzance tend to depart from platform 4, while the GWR trains to London Paddington and the CrossCountry trains to Bristol, Birmingham, northern England and Scotland tend to depart from platform 5.

If you’re happy to use the stairs to access these trains, the quickest route is to use the bridge that you’ll see on the left when exiting the entrance hall and stepping on to platform 1 or if you want to use the elevators you’ll need to turn right.
The trains to London Waterloo usually depart from platform (track) 1 which is right beside the entrance hall.

To and from the city centre:

The fact that there is another station in the city named Exeter Central is a hint that Exeter St. Davids is some distance from the city centre.
Not only is the heart of the city, the High Street and cathedral a 20-30 min walk from St. Davids, it also a fairly steep ascent.
If you won’t baulk at this, the quickest route is to head straight ahead from the main exit of the station, going across the car park and to use the clearly signposted passage way to the right of the Premier Inn hotel.

However, if you don’t want to walk or take a taxi there are several bus routes which stop just outside Exeter St. Davids station and connect it to the city centre, the most frequent of which is route H (destination Digby), though routes 5B and 6 are also available.
The bus ticket will cost £2 and you can pay the driver when boarding.

As the walking route is downhill, it's less arduous to reach St. Davids when travelling to the station on foot, but look out for the steps and pathway off to the left when heading down St. Davids Hill.
It's by the junction with Howell Road and is a short cut, which will save at least 5 minutes.

Train service summary:

Train Operating Company:

Destinations:

GWR

(1) London Paddington via Taunton, Westbury, Newbury and Reading
(2) Cardiff via Taunton, Bristol and Newport
(3) Paignton via Torquay
(4) Penzance via Totness, Plymouth, Bodmin Parkway, St Austell and Truro
(5) to Exmouth
(6) to Barnstaple

South Western Railway

London Waterloo via Yeovil and Salisbury

CrossCountry

(1) Aberdeen via Taunton, Bristol, Birmingham, Derby, Sheffield, Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh
(2) Manchester via Taunton, Bristol, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent

The gorgeous signage pointing the way to the main footbridge dates from 1912 The gorgeous signage pointing the way to the main footbridge dates from 1912
The IEP trains to London use sections of unroofed platforms The IEP trains to London use sections of unroofed platforms
You don't have to use the beautiful staircases to access the trains You don't have to use the beautiful staircases to access the trains
The station's Art-Deco signage has been preserved, but it sadly no longer has a Dining Room The station's Art-Deco signage has been preserved, but it sadly no longer has a Dining Room

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