Track and signalling

20.02.19

Shepton Mallet railway station and services could be restored under new vision

National rail services could be restored to a Somerset town after the local authority unveiled a new vision for the rail route.

Shepton Mallet’s current nearest mainline station is Castle Cary which is over seven miles away, but new stations and a bypass have been proposed in a business case from Mendip District Council for major new transport projects.

Council leader Harvey Siggs said Mendip had “often been ignored” by the government regarding infrastructure funding, and noted that the authority’s vision makes the case from central government to take the project forward.

Included in the plans is a new ‘Shepton Parkway’ railway station and a new bypass near Street, and the district council has committed £320,000 towards developing a full business case.

Shepton Mallet previously had two stations - High Street and Charlton Road – but both closed in the 1960s as they fell victim to the ‘Beeching cuts’ to the national railway.

Cllr Tim Killen said in his report: “Some may think 'it is just a pipe dream'. They said that about the Frome bypass.”

Killen, who is the portfolio holder for economic growth, said: "Significant technical investigations are now needed to fully understand our local infrastructure requirements and examine the environmental opportunities and constraints in the future.

“Whatever the short-term implications for the economy, it is imperative that we continue to look forward over the medium and longer term to ensure that we pave the way for continued investment and future prosperity.

“We are asking for funding to take forward these assessments. We don't want to miss the boat - or train. We want to create a vision for Mendip.”

The council will now progress with the studies and build evidence in order to persuade central government to take on the rail projects – as well as a project to reliver pinch points on the A361 near Glastonbury.

Cllr Nigel Taylor added: “The effect of a rail link would be exceptional - it will open up this area. We don't have the advantages of Sedgemoor with their motorway link.”

This follows a similar plan for a new railway line revealed last week in New Forest, which also lost a number of its railway stations in the Beeching cuts.

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