Introducing Minehead Rail Link Group . . . . . .
Ever since British Rail closed the Taunton - Minehead line, the people of West Somerset have been asking for a through train service to Taunton and beyond to operate alongside the steam trains that run from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard. Sadly the steam trains are not authorised to travel over Network Rail tracks beyond Bishops Lydeard into Taunton, but a diesel service operated by Great Western Railway would be allowed to do this, if the West Somerset Railway agreed to it.
We are campaigning for some of Great Western’s existing Cardiff/Bristol - Taunton trains to continue on to Minehead, giving the people of West Somerset a regular service to Taunton and Bristol. The infrastructure is there and fully maintained and there is capacity on the W.S.R. to accommodate the extra trains.
Obviously, before this can be done the W.S.R., local authorities, Great Western Railwayl and other agencies need to get together and work out a package that is viable and most beneficial to the people and businesses of West Somerset and Taunton.
With the electrification of much of the Great Western network, additional diesel trains will become available. Other factors including timetabling, staffing, marketing, operational matters, financial and practical support from Government and elsewhere will all be addressed as the campaign progresses. Already Minehead Town Council is backing the campaign and we are now waiting to see if Somerset County Council will offer similar support. Minehead Chamber of Commerce set up by Minehead Rail Link Group to spearhead the campaign and to encourage everyone to work together to give the town the rail service it deserves.
The tide is turning - we are living in an age of massive rail resurgence with old stations and lines across Britain being re-opened and thriving - we can’t let West Somerset lag behind any longer - especially as the railway is already there and fully equipped. Lets re-link Minehead to the nation!
SEPARATING THE MYTHS FROM THE FACTS
There are still a few who doggedly cling on to misinformation as to why they think we can’t have trains to Taunton:-
MYTH 1. “The trains can’t go faster than 25mph over the WSR.”
FACT 1. It is true that the current heritage steam service to Bishops Lydeard can’t exceed 25mph, but the government’s Office of Rail & Road can authorise higher speeds for the sort of service we are campaigning for to whatever they feel is safe, and this has already been done elsewhere.
MYTH 2. “There is no room on the WSR for any extra trains”
FACT 2. There is capacity for several extra trains per day on the line and professional diagramming proves this. When BR ran the line, in the holiday season it coped with a more intensive service than we have now (including the odd slow moving freight train)
MYTH 3. “The new service will wear out the track”
FACT 3. The steam trains that currently run on the line are several times heavier than the lightweight railcars we are proposing, as were the hundreds of freight trains that have brought in material for sea defence work in recent years.
MYTH 4. “The diesel service would kill off the steam service.”FACT 4. The steam service and new diesel service would work together, complimenting each other and enhancing the services offered whilst still enabling train-spotters and railway photographers to pursue their hobby.
BENEFITS OF BRINGING MAIN LINE
TRAINS THROUGH TO MINEHEAD
- The journey from Minehead to Taunton by rail could be faster than the bus and faster than the car when roads grind to a halt at the busy periods. (Buses would still play a vital role feeding into Minehead, Williton and Taunton stations, and by being co-ordinated with trains would attract more people out of their cars)
- Day trips from Minehead to London will be possible.
- It is hard to get from Minehead to Bridgwater by bus - the existing Cardiff trains already call at Bridgwater.
- Traffic congestion in rush-hour and on Butlins ‘changeover’ days would be cut. And with traffic - including 1000’s of lorry journeys into Hinkley C nuclear plant - rail is the ideal way to beat the traffic jams.
- More visitors coming by rail means more parking spaces would become available in Minehead for locals.
- One third of Butlins visitors come from South Wales. Regular trains from Cardiff and Newport would persuade many visitors to come in comfort by rail rather than by car.
- Hotels and hospitality would receive a huge boost. Several national events and conferences have bypassed Minehead and gone to Torquay or Weston super Mare when organisers discovered we had no proper rail service.
- A through rail service would be safe and beneficial to the elderly, disabled and those with children and luggage.
- New builds in Minehead, mean the station is now within walking distance of new facilities south of the level crossing, including supermarkets, hospital and leisure.
- The developments in and around Taunton Station, including the new proposed walkway from Taunton Station to the town centre would make the proposed rail service appealing to shoppers as well as commuters.
- The proposed service would bring in extra revenue, passengers and volunteers for the West Somerset Railway
- West Somerset’s economy is faltering by comparison with Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. The train service would go a long way to rectifying that and boosting local businesses. When choosing a site to locate, businesses almost always consider whether the potential location has a decent rail service. Our lack of rail services means we lose out to other towns in the West Country that do have a proper rail service.
- As awareness of Green Issues increases it’s vital we play our part in reducing our carbon-footprint. It is environmentally suicidal and illogical to drive from far flung parts of the country to Minehead and then to take a nostalgic trip on a steam train to Bishops Lydeard and back, when you could make the whole journey by rail (changing at Bishops Lydeard if you wanted a steam train ride)
If you don’t have access to the internet and would like to be kept informed by post, please send a stamped addressed envelope to:-David Latimer, Golsoncott Cottage, Rodhuish, Minehead TA24 6QZ