Updated: Feb 10, 2021
Possible Site of New Wellington Railway Station, seen from Palmers Mead (Image: Daniel Mumby)
Efforts to reopen a railway station in Wellington could receive a boost as a result of a competition being held by Network Rail. Wellington’s original railway station, located on the B3187 at its northern edge, closed in October 1964 as part of the notorious Beeching cuts. Somerset West and Taunton Council has been working with Mid-Devon District Council on proposals to reopen stations in Wellington and Cullompton, both of which are on the Bristol to Exeter mainline.
These efforts may now be boosted after both sites were singled out in a competition to design the next generation of UK railway station. Councillor Mike Rigby, portfolio holder for planning and transport, gave details at a virtual meeting of the council's scrutiny committee on January 6. He said: "there is a competition being held by Network Rail to design the first series of new, small railway stations - to make sure these new stations are not just Portakabins and a platform. I was really pleased to hear that - it means there's some serious thought going into design and that's what we want to see. We don't just want something utilitarian but the really attractive bit of what they [Network Rail] said to us was that they were hoping Wellington and Cullompton would be the first built to that new design. it's a very clear indication that we're really on the road to this actually happening. This is probably the clearest indication yet that we've had."
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Rigby said: "Wellington and Cullompton are being used as examples of places where such designs might be used, to allow competitors to give some context for the further development of their ideas. There is no clarity on whether proposals for the re-opening of Wellington and Cullompton stations will have a direct benefit from the design competition, due to the nature of the competition itself and also the differing timetables of this competition and the programme for pursuing the re-opening of the stations. With regard to the feasibility study, the preparation of the strategic outline business case is now reaching a conclusion, and we will be in a position to issue an update on this and next steps shortly. This phase of work has been funded by the department for transport’s restoring your railway fund."
Possible locations of a new Wellington railway station within the Longforth Farm site's employment allocation (image: Somerset West and Taunton Council)
The council stated in October 2020 that it had begun "positive" negotiations with landowners near the ongoing Longforth Farm development - part of which is allocated for employment use. As part of the local plan, two sections of the Longforth farm site are earmarked for employment – both of which run along the railway line. One site lies near the existing Relyon factory, on the opposite side of the B3187 Milverton Road bridge from the original station. The other lies further east, between the railway line and the existing roundabout where Taunton road meets Nynehead Road.