The West Somerset Railway could benefit from the prospect of revamped rail links between Bishops Lydeard and Taunton, if plans between Somerset County Council, Network Rail and relevant train operators go to plan.
Trials are being proposed for the railway, which is the longest heritage line in England, bringing an estimated £5M into the Somerset economy ever year. If these trials prove successful, the heritage line would be connected to the mainline for the first time in 50 years which would help to bring even more tourists and residents to the area.
The original line to Minehead closed back in 1971, but preservation services have been slowly reintroduced since 1976 onwards. Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council have both committed themselves to reintroducing regular passenger trains as far as Bishops Lydeard.
The local authorities have asked Network Rail to look into the possibility of this line revival as part of its response to a recent consultation on the future of the Great Western rail franchise. The various groups involved hope that a pilot scheme could run services to Bishops Lydeard in 2019 or 2020, which would co-exist nicely with the timetabled WSR services.
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