The Prime Minister has announced the Government will build a new train station in Wellington.
The news follows a seven-year campaign by the area's MP, Rebecca Pow, who made the project a campaign pledge when she first ran for office in 2015.
Ms Pow welcomed the Government's decision to green light the project on Wednesday, October 4, after it was announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.
The Prime Minister said the new station would be part of a package which would deliver on his mission to 'give Britain the infrastructure it needs.'
Ms Pow said she was 'thrilled' by the decision, which will see the town have its own train station for the first time since it was closed by the Beeching Cuts in 1964. She said: “I am absolutely thrilled with the news! This is what we have all been working on for many years and to receive this news is tremendous not just for the local people of Wellington, but it will bring much needed prosperity to the area through this extra connectivity.
"It will benefit businesses, their employees and especially the many people accessing educational establishments up and down the line, not to mention improving congestion on the roads and reducing pollution. I am delighted to be delivering a service that local residents want, support was clearly demonstrated at the initial event I held in 2016 in Wellington to gauge interest in a station. Two hundred people attended that meeting and there was unanimous support for a station. Thousands of people signed my subsequent petition which I presented in Parliament.
"I have been pleased to chair the Metro Rail Committee comprising of all the relevant stakeholders and to be the strong voice in Westminster putting our case at every opportunity. I must thank everyone involved in our team, including GWR, Network Rail, the councils and the LEP for the professional work done to reach this major milestone. This announcement today means that what started as a dream has now become a reality thanks in particular to a Government prioritising opening new rail stations in the right places."
In his remarks, the Prime Minister announced the scrapping of the second leg of High Speed Rail 2, which was set to travel from Birmingham to Manchester. He said this would represent a saving of £36 billion, which would be reinvested into a number of separate transport infrastructure projects.
These include a £700 million pound package to help reverse the Beeching Cuts, a programme embarked upon in the 1960s which saw more than half of Britain's railway stations closed down. It appears this new pot will be used to fund Wellington's new station.
Speaking to a packed conference hall, Mr Sunak said: "I am cancelling the rest of the HS2 project. In its place we will reinvest every single penny of the £36 billion pounds in hundreds of new transport projects in the North and Midlands, and across the country.
"This means £36 billion of investment in the projects that will make a real difference across our country. As a result of the decision we are taking today every region outside of London will receive more government investment than they would have done under HS2."
The decision to divest follows the cost of the high speed rail line soaring by 75 per cent over the past ten years, prompting concern in some quarters that the cost of the project was spiralling out of control.
Some of the money saved from scrapping the project will now be spent in Wellington, with construction slated to begin in 2024 with a view to opening the station in mid-to-late 2025.
Ms Pow's campaign for the station was applauded by the Government's Transport Minister, Huw Merriman. Commenting, he said: "Connecting Wellington to Somerset’s railway network is a major step forward for the area. Fast trains to London and Exeter open up great opportunities for the local area and I’m looking forward to seeing spades in the ground.
"I’d like to pay tribute to Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow for her tenacity and efforts to secure the new station, including engaging with local people in the town. Somerset’s railway network is expanding under this Conservative government, creating jobs and opportunities across the county.”