TRAIN passengers arriving in Taunton are to get a better first impression of the town... as long as millions of pounds can be found to fund improvements.

Network Rail is keen on delivering a ‘master plan’ to steer rail users away from the unsightly Station Road walk towards the town centre.

Details were outlined in the County Gazette last year and talks are progressing with various interested parties, including Taunton Deane Council.

A Network Rail spokesman this week said: “There’s nothing concrete to say at the moment about the Taunton Station master plan other than that a steering group has been set up comprising the various stakeholders, though there’s currently no funding identified for delivery of the master plan.”

The proposals for the south side of Taunton Station unveiled last April included:

  • A new entrance with a boulevard into town via Firepool, avoiding the two unsightly bridges in Station Road;
  • A multi-storey car park;
  • The refurbishment of Great Western House, home to Viridor before the firm moved to Priory Bridge Road;
  • A bus and coach interchange, short-stay car parking, and taxi and passenger drop off points.

On the north side there could be:

  • A business development fronting Kilkenny Car Park;
  • Bus stops and short stay parking;
  • A glazed station entrance;
  • A commercial delivery area.

A housing development and replacement allotments could be sited at Obridge Yard.

The scheme would fit in with new shops, homes, offices and leisure businesses at Firepool, which it is hoped will come forward now that the Northern Inner Distributor Road is being built, improving access to the site.

Taunton Deane Council deputy leader Cllr Mark Edwards, writing in The Way I See It column in this week’s County Gazette says the potential work at Taunton Station reflects the positive things which are happening in the town.

He says: “We also have Network Rail engaging with us as they wish to spend millions developing the railway station and improving the whole area surrounding the station with new offices, retail, housing and parking with plans to see a massive increase in rail traffic in the coming years.”