Almost 200 people turned out for an open meeting to discuss the campaign to re-open Wellington’s railway station. Local MP Rebecca Pow explained the possible next steps to an enthusiastic audience.
It involves the local authorities (Somerset County Council, Devon County Council, Exeter Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and Mid Devon Council) being encouraged to follow the example of TDBC, who have already committed £40,000, to fund their share of the next important stage of the project.
This is the GRIP 2 (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) feasibility study that will look at engineering possibilities and train timetabling. Armed with this information a bid can then be made to the Government’s £20million New Station Fund thereby unlocking funding for the next stage of the process.
This focuses on investigating the feasibility of opening a metro style rail station in the town together with a similar station opening at Cullompton in Devon. This will open up connectivity between Taunton, Wellington, Cullompton, Tiverton Parkway and Exeter. Initial studies indicate that there is a business case for the station. In fact Wellington is believed to be the largest town of its kind on a main rail line without a station. (The old station closed in 1964.)
Despite years of discussion about a possible station this was the first meeting of its kind to be staged in the town. Ms Pow, who chaired and initiated the event was joined on the panel by Deputy Leader of Taunton Deane Council Mark Edwards, Somerset County Councillor for Wellington Andrew Govier as well as the Mayor of Wellington, Janet Lloyd.
‘I was absolutely over the moon at the turnout for the meeting and was delighted to see how passionate the local community are about the potential for a station. The clear show of support suggests that we must move forward to the next phase if at all possible. This however, depends on encouraging the local stakeholders to commit funding in order to carry out the feasibility study. I urge all the local authorities involved to think very carefully about this as the economic benefits and environmental paybacks that will flow from a new station are obvious. There will be benefits for business, commuters as well as the general public but a station could also help to ease the town’s congestion problems and reduce air pollution,’ Ms Pow said after the meeting where she launched a petition to further demonstrate support for the project. The MP will be giving Rail Minister, Claire Perry a full progress report.