Possible regular services between West Somerset Railway and Taunton


West Somerset Railway could see mainline Services again

There is growing that regular scheduled train services will once more operate between the West Somerset Railway (WSR) and the national rail network.

Long closed stations stations along the route could be reopened as interest is increasing in providing a service between Bishops Lydeard and Tauton. A partnership working group has been set up to look at the prospect of running mainline scheduled trains between the two stations in the long term this would safeguard the WSR’s long term future.

The working group comprises representatives of the Heart of South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Great Western Railway, Network Rail, Somerset County Council, and WSR Plc.

A connection between Taunton and Minehead branch has been a long-term aim since the line was rescued by enthusiasts after BR axed services. At one time, services to Minehead included through trains from London and other parts of the country.

The first task will be to look at the simplest and most effective way in which the link between the WSR and the mainline can be improved, signalled, and operated. An outline business plan will then be developed to estimate how much it would cost.

Christian Irwin, director of Network Rail’s rail investment centre, said:

“Working closely with our local partners is essential to understanding the transport needs of local communities. We are pleased to be supporting this study.”

GWR’s head of service strategy, Matt Barnes, commented:

“We are delighted to work with the WSR and other partners to explore the feasibility and business case for restoring daily passenger services between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard. This would build on the successful trial of a summer Saturday shuttle service during 2019 before the Covid pandemic.”

Ian Harrison, Transport Adviser to the Heart of South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“Re-connecting the local communities to the national rail network would give residents better  access to employment, services, education and training, and improve connections to local businesses. Direct train services from Taunton will support inbound tourism to West Somerset, not least to the West Somerset Railway itself.”

WSR company director Steve Williams commented:

“This work is seen by the Plc as playing a vital part in securing the long-term sustainability of the West Somerset Railway. We have excellent relationships with our partners in this venture and we hope we can develop a strong case for reconnection to Taunton that will attract the necessary support and funding to make it a reality.

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