TAUNTON Station has re-opened today (Friday) following a major track renewal project.

The line between Tiverton Parkway and Castle Cary/Weston-super-Mare was closed until the early hours of this morning during the project at a major junction on the Great Western main line near the county town.

Network Rail also completed upgrades to Whiteball Tunnel, southbound past Wellington, which has been reinforced with concrete, securing its use for the years ahead.

During the six-day closure of the line, Great Western Railway (GWR) diverted trains running between London Paddington and the South West, ensuring a direct rail service into the region remained operational.

An extensive rail replacement operation also ensured customers could still travel between Bristol and the South West.

Upgrades to the junction and tunnel were a milestone in the build-up to GWR’s biggest timetable change in a generation and will help trains to run more reliably, as well as reducing the need for more closures in the future, according to GWR managing director Mark Hopwood.

He thanked passengers for their patience and reminded them of the changes ahead which the improvement works are helping to bring.

Mr Hopwood said: "We are now just a matter of weeks away from the biggest timetable change on the Great Western network since the 1970s, enabling us to take advantage of the full benefits that new Intercity Express trains, and improved track signalling systems, are bringing.

"From December 15, in providing more frequent and quicker journeys, our new timetable will for the vast majority of users quite literally mean ‘all change please’ and we encourage those travelling to check their usual journeys beforehand."

He said train services between Devon and Cornwall and London will be restructured to deliver a more consistent service pattern throughout the day, offering faster typical journey times and more frequent services to key locations from December this year.

Network Rail‘s Western route director Mike Gallop said: “The completion of this track maintenance work is an important step in the countdown to the introduction of the new timetable in December, which will allow passengers to benefit from more frequent and faster journeys.

"I would like to thank both passengers and residents for their patience while we carried out this essential work."