Prospects for a railway station in Wellington look brighter after the town council committed £10,000 towards the cost of a detailed feasibility study that will decide location, frequency of trains and parking issues.
“You’ve got to be in it to win it. I think we should earmark this money from our substantial reserves for this project,” said Cllr John Thorne, who proposed the motion. “If we don’t show commitment to our town, how can we persuade other partners to invest,” added Cllr James Hunt.
The decision came after the town council heard Taunton Deane councillor Mark Edwards, leading the station project say that he saw real prospects for a station by 2021, with possibly hourly trains. Taunton Deane has already committed £40,000 towards the study, called GRIP2.
“The GRIP2 study will answer the questions that everybody asks; signalling, trains, timetabling etc,” said Cllr Edwards. “We can’t go further forward without those answers and that’s a fact.
“The key to the whole idea is a partnership with others; GWR, Network Rail, Mid Devon, Devon County Council. It can’t happen in isolation. We won’t get a station in Wellington without a station at Cullompton.”
Cllr Edwards explained that his optimism that that those other bodies, including the Local Enterprise Partnership, were moving towards contributing to the £250,000 overall cost of GRIP2.
“We’re at a critical point,” he said. “If we don’t get the funding we’ll go no further and I don’t intend to allow that to happen. Connecting Wellington to Exeter would be hugely beneficial. The flow of people, knowledge, quality jobs helps everyone.”
Support of the proposal was not unanimous. Councillors Janet Lloyd, Ross Henley, and Bill Sparrow voted against the £10,000 commitment on the grounds that the immediate needs of poor local bus services were being ignored in favour of a still hypothetical railway station.