RAIL services to and from Tiverton have been thrown into limbo after ministers scrapped the delayed competition to run trains on the Great Western mainline.
It was one of three franchise contests 'paused' last year in the wake of the West Coast fiasco.
The current operator First Great Western has had its contract extended until October and negotiations will start on a new two-year contract with the company, while plans for the longer term will be set out in the spring.
At the same time, there will be preparations to take services into public hands in case agreement cannot be reached.
It will fuel fears that service improvements promised by the new 15-year Great Western franchise, such as tackling overcrowding and reliability, will not now be realised.