A PLAN to develop railway stations in Cullompton and Wellington have come a step closer to reality with the announcement of funding in the Government’s autumn budget.
This latest funding announcement of £5 million will enable the projects to advance to the next stage of their development and follows the submission of a business case to the Department for Transport earlier in the year.
Both stations closed in 1964. However, both towns have grown in population since then and are the largest settlements unserved by a rail station between Exeter and Taunton.
The funding announcement follows months of hard work, research and partnership building to develop the case for the proposed new stations at Cullompton and Wellington by the Steering Group and WSP Consulting.
Cllr Bob Deed, Leader of Mid Devon District Council said: “This is excellent news for the Cullompton area. The two local Members for Parliament in conjunction with Mid Devon District and Somerset West and Taunton Councils have been working closely with the rail industry and the Local Enterprise Partnership to progress plans to reopen stations at Cullompton and Wellington.
“It is good to know that our project is supported nationally and this announcement brings us significantly closer to realising our aspirations to reopen both Cullompton and Wellington stations.”
Cllr Mike Rigby, Executive Member for Planning and Transport at SWT, said: “The recent budget announcement is very welcome and shows we have genuine support for our proposal to reopen rail routes lost half a century ago. Reconnecting Wellington and Cullompton stations to the rail network will provide a lifeline for local people and businesses in these growing towns, and I am greatly encouraged that we are now able to advance our plans to the next stage."
The reopening of the stations would form part of wider enhancements to the rail service in the area. These include the potential for an hourly service through an extension of the current Cardiff to Taunton service and for a new Exeter to Taunton shuttle service.
Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: “I am absolutely thrilled the Chancellor has given his backing to reopen Cullompton railway station.
"The extension of the Devon Metro will help cut congestion on our roads, slash commuter times for students and workers, and create exciting new opportunities for local businesses. Construction is set to start as soon as 2024 under the current proposals. As the Devon and Somerset Metro Group, we have been working hard to put our case to Government. And with the £5 million of development funding secured, the project is on track for great success.”
MP for Taunton Deane, Rebecca Pow, added: “It is great news that the Spending Review confirmed £5 million funding to progress proposals for rail stations for Wellington and Cullompton to the exciting design stage of the development. This brings us a big step closer to a rail station for Wellington becoming a reality - I’ve worked hard to stress the urgency of this funding to HM Treasury and am so pleased they listened.
“A station in Wellington will unlock other development, improve connectivity and opportunity and boost the local economy. The station and its rail connections, are also an important part of our decarbonisation plan and the move to encourage people away from reliance on cars."
The Partnership for this project is made up of Mid Devon District Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council, Cullompton Town Council, Wellington Town Council, Devon County Council, Somerset County Council, the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Network Rail, Great Western Railway. The two local MPs Rebecca Pow and Neil Parish have both been directly involved and have sponsored the project.