COMMUTERS working in London could catch the 6.51am train from Wellington, change at Taunton and be in the capital by 9am under a potential timetable discussed in a recent meeting.

It's not going to happen any time soon, but "extremely positive" talks have been held about providing a metro rail service between Taunton and Exeter.

The project, which could cost up to £30 million, would involve the re-opening of stations at Wellington and Cullompton, which were both closed in 1964 under the 'Beeching Axe'.

Stakeholders, who include councils and railway companies, looked into issues such as siting potential platforms and an indicative timetable for trains probably about six carriages long running hourly through the day.

Cllr Mark Edwards, Somerset West and Taunton Council's representative at the talks, said: "It was extremely positive and early indications are it's feasible to open stations in Wellington and Cullompton and not have an impact on the wider rail network.

"We got to the point where we've done an outline business case and some basic timetabling with Network Rail.

"The next stage concerns more detailed track and signal issues for the entire line."

Commuters would be able to travel between Taunton, Wellington, Cullompton, Tiverton and Exeter, preferably walking or cycling to their home station and leaving their cars at home. The new stations would probably have ticket machines and would not necessarily be manned at all times.

Preliminary work suggests little expensive signalling work would need to be done.

Cllr Edwards added: "We can make the timetabling fit and the station options work. Signalling constraints are limited.

"We genuinely think this is possible, but that's not to say it's going to happen very quickly.

"We're now moving into more detailed plans with wider engagement. Then when we have the design plans we'll be able to bid for funding."

Labour district and Wellington town councillor Andrew Govier said: "We're pleased about this progress towards a new station.

"It would be a popular idea in the town and anything that can make it happen is good news."

District Lib Dem leader Cllr Simon Coles said: "We'd welcome the re-opening of Wellington Station, but appreciate a lot of things would need to fall into place for it to happen.

"Anything that enhances public transport and encourages people to leave their cars behind is a good thing."

The Green party backs plans for a mainline station at Wellington in its manifesto for the Somerset West and Taunton Council elections on May 2.

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