A BID to get Minehead Town Council’s backing for a rail link to Minehead was temporarily derailed this week.

Councillor Oliver Harvey, a member of the Minehead Rail Link Group, urged his fellow councillors to support, in principle, a rail link between Minehead and Taunton.

Mayor Sandra Slade said it was important to distinguish whether the council was willing to support a rail link from Minehead to Taunton, and the Minehead Rail Link Group, which she said were two different things.

Cllr Slade also said it needed to be clear whether support for a rail link meant a shuttle service between Bishops Lydeard and Taunton or trains running all the way through.

“Last year the council sent a letter to the West Somerset Railway general manager, indicating support for a 60 day trial of a shuttle service in the summer of 2019,” Cllr Slade said.

Cllr Harvey argued the rail link would be a welcome form of sustainable transport, and said MRLG were making positive steps.

Cllr Beresford Mandley said he understood the shuttle service trial had been successful.

“I’ve spoken with Chris Austin (WSR chairman) and been told that the figures for the shuttle service over the summer where outstanding,” Cllr Mandley said.

“It also helps with footfall coming into the town.

“West Somerset Railway is going through some financial troubles and I think opening that link again would benefit the whole area.”

Cllr Anne Lawton added: “I believe that ultimately the line should be uninterrupted and I believe the heritage railway and rail link could sit happily together.

“The railway relies on a huge number of volunteers and I would hate to see it get to the point where it is no longer viable in 10 to 15 years.”

Cllr Slade said she was disappointed with a recent letter from the Minehead Rail Link Group which stated that Minehead Town Council supported the group when MTC had only shown support for a trial shuttle service.

Cllr Slade said she had also done further reading into the matter and was concerned whether a rail link would be compatible with West Somerset’s heritage railway.

“I am ambivalent about supporting this. West Somerset Railway brings in 200,000 visitors a year which has a big impact on our economy,” Cllr Slade said.

Cllr Paul Bolton added if the council were to support the rail link, it must be on the proviso that it must not be financially detrimental to the West Somerset Railway.

Despite Cllr Harvey’s protestation that putting off a decision was ‘simply wasting time’, the councillors voted to defer the matter until its December meeting.