MULTI-million pound plans to revamp Taunton train station have moved a step closer.

Great Western Railway (GWR) and construction company John Sisk & Son have finalised contracts for the regeneration scheme, which will see a new multi-storey car park; a new ticket office and entrance and additional bike spaces installed at the station.

An improved bus and taxi interchange and easier access to the town centre and Firepool development will all help improve the customer experience for people visiting the town by train, GWR says, with visitor numbers expected to double over the next 10 years.

Work is expected to begin this summer and be completed in spring 2020.

GWR's head of commercial development, Clare Kingswood, said: “Taunton station is a key gateway to the town and with the overall investment in the rail network – including brand new Intercity Express Trains that have already increased capacity by over a quarter than the trains they have replaced - we are expecting passenger numbers to increase significantly over the next decade.

“We are pleased to be working with Somerset West and Taunton Council and the Heart of South West LEP to deliver the additional car park and bike spaces that Taunton has needed for some time, and it is great that we have finalised the contracts with John Sisk & Son and are able to move into the construction phase of the project.”

GWR is working with Somerset West and Taunton Council and the Heart of South West Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver the scheme, designed to help support the town’s economic development plans.

Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley, said: "We are delighted that this major project to improve Taunton station is now getting under way, with a £4.6m contribution from our Local Growth Fund.

"This significant investment will not only transform the station environment and improve its accessibility, but also act as a catalyst for commercial and residential development in the area around the station.

“It’s part of the LEP’s wider strategic infrastructure programme to improve connectivity throughout the HotSW area of Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.”

Somerset West and Taunton Council chief executive, James Hassett, said: “The council is proud to support this project which will greatly improve the experience for customers and visitors to Taunton; and is of wider benefit to businesses and the whole area.

“The redevelopment of Taunton railway station aligns with our ambitions for growth, and has long been a feature of our town centre regeneration plans.

"It is an integral part of our intention to link the station to the town centre with upgraded and enhanced pedestrian access along the River Tone through Firepool and the Coal Orchard.

"The provision of multi-storey car parking and public transport facilities is an essential part of the development in planning and investing for the future."

Somerset County Gazette:

NEW ENTRANCE: Planned for the south side of Taunton Station

Taunton Deane MP, Rebecca Pow, also welcomed the progress being made on the scheme.

She said: “I worked hard with stakeholders to secure the investment for Taunton railway station. With passenger traffic through the station to significantly increase this upgrade is crucial and I am delighted work will be underway shortly.

“The development also plays an important part in the regeneration of Firepool and the town centre.

"I am pleased that GWR are also taking note of ideas fed in from my surveys to local people to ensure the designs fit in with the Garden Town strategy.”

And a spokesperson for contractors John Sisk & Son said there would be benefits to local business.

“John Sisk & Son look forward to working in close collaboration with Great Western Railway, Somerset West and Taunton Council and wider stakeholders to deliver this key infrastructure," the spokesperson said.

"In line with our sustainable approach we will complement in house experience by working with the local supply chain. We hope to make a positive impact through proactive engagement and leave a lasting legacy with the community.”