A MAJOR transformation of Taunton Station is set to go ahead after the Government agreed to put up £4.6million.

The cash will help re-site the main entrance on the south side, improve passenger facilities, provide retail opportunities and improved parking.

It is also seen as vital for the long-awaited development of the derelict Firepool site.

The Local Growth Fund handout was announced today, Monday, July 7, following a visit last month by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Rebecca Pow, who is standing for the Conservatives at Taunton Deane in next year’s General Election, said: “I have been championing this cause and was delighted that the Secretary of State for Transport accepted my recent invitation to come to Taunton to see the potential benefits of this project for himself.

“He was very impressed and I am so pleased that against some other extremely competitive bids this project has been selected to receive this vital funding.

“It is a key to the future development of the town and includes re-orientating the rail station, better passenger facilities, retail opportunities and improved parking. It also paves the way for the long awaited development of the Firepool site.”

The station masterplan is backed by Network Rail, First Great Western, Taunton Deane Council and Somerset County Council, who put in a joint bid as part of a larger Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership bid to the Growth Fund.

Mr McLoughlin said: “Rebecca organised the rail event extremely well and generated a high level of interest.

“I believe that transport plays an integral role in the development of communities and allowing opportunities for economic growth.

“This is clearly the case for Taunton and it is the type of scheme that I envisaged when the Local Growth Fund money was announced.

“It will clearly benefit Taunton and add another chapter to the town’s rich history.”

The proposed development project will enable the station to handle the predicted 40% increase in passenger traffic within the next six years and will confirm Taunton as the gateway to the South-West.

Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne, who has been working in Westminster to make sure the Government funds important projects in Somerset, has welcomed the Regional Growth Fund money announced today.  The Regional Growth Fund is a flagship initiative of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition government.

Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne said: "The Liberal Democrats in government have made sure that money is pushed out beyond London and the wealthy South-East into areas like Taunton Deane.

"I am delighted that Taunton Deane will receive funding for important projects like upgrading Taunton train station, flood alleviation and improved broadband connectivity.

"It is essential that we continue to attract extra investment and new jobs to Taunton Deane.

"That has been my priority as our local Member of Parliament and I am very pleased that Taunton Deane is getting the extra government investment that our area needs."