Radstock regeneration : The rail bid is in, now it is just a wait to see if it can happen

By Susie Watkins

15th Mar 2021 | Local News

No passengers have taken a train from Radstock since the 1960s and the line, which was being used by freight, stopped being used altogether a decade later. But now an ambitious bid has been formally submitted to the government to get funding, and backing, for the line to run again.

Although there are plenty of people locally who say it will never happen, and there are some structural obstacles within Radstock, and of course there is still a way to go, there are a lot of reasons why this would be one of the easiest lines to re-open:

: It is pretty much intact

: The first five and a half miles are clear of any development across the lines

: The bridges have been checked and are still structurally sound

: There is an existing building, owned by the Norton Radstock Regeneration company which could serve as a ticket office - and buffet.

So Radstock Nub News went to see for ourselves and hear about the dreams and hopes of when the trains could run again.

The Radstock Mayor , Cllr Bevan, who is one of the team who have championed the bid, explained how if it goes ahead Radstock would be transformed.

Cllr Bevan told us: " After about five years' work, we responded to the Department of Transport invitation to nominate lines suitable for reviving, in the wake of a fund that was set up called the Beeching Reverse fund, so the North Somerset Railway was an ideal

candidate.

"The Somer Valley is growing exponentially; the roads cannot handle all the traffic passing through so an alternative public transport system is needed more than ever. "

He also explained how, as diesel trains are being phased out, it would be more than likely that any engines would be electric, so it would also be a very quiet route.

Cllr Bevan added : " Also the fact that 75 per cent of the work force works outside the local area and needs some kind of reliable form of transport to take them to work and back without spending hours queueing in traffic."

So what kind of time frame are you working to?

" That is all tied in with the reorganisation of the signalling at Westbury which is earmarked for early 2026. So by that time we must have the points of the Radstock line and the mineral line at Whatley (which would share the line from there with any Radstock service) re-enabled so that trains can come along 'our' track. The tracks and

sleepers would obviously all need to be renewed.

" The Victorians put the line in in the early 1850s so it has lasted well but obviously we would need to replace all the engineering. It was once double track but we are planning on just putting in a single track where the land is still available.

How often would you like to see trains running ?

"We would hope that it would be an hourly service and meet connections at Westbury if possible (so through Frome). This means people would be able to go from Radstock to London, and of course to Bath and Bristol which are important centres of employment for

local people. "

So how can people get involved?

People can find out more and help by supporting the plans by taking an on line survey on the campaigners site:

www.northsomersetrailway.com

" We are all sitting tight now and waiting for the outcome of our application, but once we get that we need to look forward to a much more prosperous Radstock. We can plan for new shops and facilities for visitors to the town and the Somer Valley.

" It will make Radstock a very interesting place to come to. We can make the town a wonderful destination for people who would not otherwise come here. There's lots of potential here.

" Right now I would just like to thank all the people who have worked so hard in getting us to this place, where we can now move on and restore the line."

And if the bid is not successful?

"We probably will not have another chance but we could possibly creative a captive railway or put pressure on some of the companies locally which are making heavy goods to send them by rail...

But meantime they are keeping their fingers crossed...

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