Persuasive case for reopening rail line
I HAVE been thinking lately about the potential to reopen the railway line from Yatton to Wells, closed by the Beeching Axe in the Sixties.
The Government has announced a £500 million pot of funding to reverse rail closures and I think a case could be made for the Yatton to Wells route. The old Cheddar Valley railway used to serve Congresbury (population 3,000), Sandford and Winscombe (4,500), Axbridge (2,000), Cheddar (6,000) and Wells (12,000); before continuing to Witham between Frome and Castle Cary.
Most of the trackbed is still intact – as the Strawberry Line cycle path, but mostly could be re-laid as rail easily alongside.
Public transport in Wells and the surrounding area of Somerset is exclusively by bus, with Wells being 68 minutes by bus from Bristol. Back when the line was open, Wells was 45 minutes from Yatton, which is currently 14-20 minutes from Bristol by train depending on stops. With modern technology and fewer stations, Wells could be a 45-50 minute suburban rail journey away from Bristol – which would do wonders for the tourism and access to job opportunities for local residents. London would be a further one hour 40 minutes by train, and could be connected to Wells directly via Bristol in the future.
It would connect a population of around 30,000 to the rail network, and a Wells railway station would also serve Glastonbury, Street and Shepton Mallet.