AS we move into 2024, there is cause for optimism as several new railway stations begin to home into view in Somerset, in particular Wellington station.

Restoring rail services to Wellington has been a long-standing ambition – with Jeremy Browne, Liberal Democrat MP for Taunton Deane, raising the issue in parliament in 2014 and his Conservative successor Rebecca Pow making it a priority since she was first elected in 2015.

Restoring the original railway station, which closed in 1964, was not deemed practical without forcibly relocating some of the town’s major employers, including KDC Swallowfield, Relyon and Pritex.

Instead, the new station will be built north of the town’s Lidl store off Nynehead Road, on land allocated for employment use within the Taunton Deane Core Strategy.

Somerset councillors have been working with their counterparts on Mid Devon District Council to create business cases to restore rail services to both Wellington and Cullompton, which lost its railway station in the same year.

The new station is expected to cost £15m and will be delivered by Network Rail, which is now leading the project.

David Northey, a retired strategic planner with Network Rail, indicated at an event in May that the station would initially be served by trains every two hours as part of the Great Western Railway (GWR) service between Exeter St. David’s and Cardiff Central.

However, he said this will likely increase to once per hour as demand grows, citing the success of the recently-reopened Okehempton station on the northern edge of the Dartmoor national park.

West of England Developments (Taunton) Ltd. has applied to deliver the access road and car parking for the new station as part of a wider development of 220 homes, commercial space and a possible care home to the north of the B3187 Taunton Road.

In addition to the new car parking, the station could eventually be served by a park and ride site near the Westpark 26 business park, which forms part of the Wellington Place Plan adopted in March.

Existing footpaths linking the railway station site to nearby developments and the historic Tonedale Mill site could also be enhanced after the government provided £20m from its levelling up fund to regenerate the mill and the neighbouring Tone Works site.

A spokesman for Somerset Council stated in late-October: “The link between the delivery of the new railway station in Wellington and regeneration works at Tonedale Mill and the council-owned Tone Works is already well established.

“The development of the station and the regeneration of Tonedale Mill and Tone Works are seen by the council and all parties involved as intrinsically linked. This is about working towards the mutual benefit of both projects, and importantly the town as a whole."

One way or another, the current plan is for the new railway station to be open to passenger services by September 2025.