IT could be a case of the train and the plane taking the strain under proposals for a direct rail link between Taunton Station and Bristol Airport.

If the scheme goes ahead, holidaymakers would be able to leave the car at home and hop on a train with their luggage to avoid the congested M5 and lengthy stretches of the A38 and A368.

Bosses at Bristol Airport recognise it is the only top ten airport in the UK without motorway, dual carriageway or direct rail access.

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They have discussed the possibility of the Taunton rail connection with county and district authorities, claiming it would improve accessibility, cut journey times and could attract millions of passengers from the South West who currently fly from London every year.

An airport spokesman stressed there are no detailed plans.

He said: "Surface access was one of the key issues raised in our recent consultation, and we recognise the importance of a well-connected, integrated transport system in meeting growing demand from passengers across the South West.

"Mass transit would also bring benefits in terms of convenience and reduced congestion on the roads.

"We are currently working with regional partners on a detailed assessment of transport options, and will publish a surface access strategy alongside our draft master plan this winter.

"This will set out long-term targets and plans to improve access to the airport."

Ironically, while Bristol Airport services more than 100 routes including to major international hubs, getting there from parts of the South West region can be difficult.

Taunton Deane Borough Council representatives, who have held talks with airport bosses, believe a rail connection to Bristol Airport would be a welcome boost to the district's economy.

A Deane House spokeswoman said: "Taunton is one of the best connected centres in the South West with high speed rail links to London and beyond.

"A direct rail link to Bristol Airport would be a welcome addition to the network creating further growth and investment opportunities for Taunton as the only garden town in the South West."

Somerset County Council has also been involved in discussions about the potential of a train link.

A spokesman at County Hall said: "We welcome the growth of Bristol Airport and are actively working with them to support the development of transport links, including rail connections."

There are multi-million pound proposals to improve and modernise Taunton Station, leading to high speed services from London, which is also seen as an excellent foundation for a direct rail link to Bristol Airport.