HOPES of returning a train station to Wellington are growing as the transport secretary has announced plans to potentially reopen lines closed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s. 

Wellington Railway Station was one of more than 2,000 stations axed when it closed on October 5 1964. 

The station originally opened when the line reached the town on May 1 1843. 

Chris Grayling said he wants to identify which routes would boost the economy, encourage house-building and ease overcrowding.

Restoring lost capacity is one of a number of measures featured in the Government's new rail strategy.

Taunton Deane Borough Council wants to see a Metro-style link opened to connect with Taunton and Exeter and helped to fund a business case for the bid, working with neighbouring councils in Devon, Somerset County Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the MP for Taunton Deane, Rebecca Pow.

The link would also see a new station opening at Cullompton in Mid Devon as part of the joint project.

Councillor Mark Edwards, deputy leader of the council, said: “Today’s report is very welcome – we have genuine support for our proposal to reopen Wellington’s station and reconnect the town to the rail network.

“Extensive work has taken place on possible network timetabling – and that has confirmed that the proposal is definitely feasible.

“We are now carrying out more detailed work on the business case and are hopeful that it will be ready in the spring.

“Wellington is a growing town and the station would provide a real lifeline to residents and businesses.”

MP for Taunton Deane, Rebecca Pow, said: “I welcome news that the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling has today announced plans to potentially reopen rail lines that were closed in 60s.

"I hope this will include the station at Wellington, a project I have championed, both as the Conservative candidate for Taunton Deane, before my election and as the Member of Parliament, raising the issue with a plethora of people including Ministers and local stakeholders, holding a public meeting in Wellington and submitting a petition to the House of Commons.

"Wellington is a thriving local hub and increased connectivity would only help move the town forward as well as being part of a wider push to get people out of their cars and onto public transport.

"I have worked hard to raise the profile of the need for a station here, and this could be news that the Government is listening.”

Rail campaigners welcomed the possibility of lines being reopened, but Labour and trade unions reiterated their calls for public ownership of the network.

Mr Grayling heralded the "massive growth" of Britain's railways in recent years as "decades of decline" under British Rail were reversed with passenger numbers doubling.

He said a "new model for the 2020s and beyond" is needed to cope with the increased demand which has caused congestion on the network.