Reopening Radstock to Frome rail link could cost £40m
The possibility of reopening the Radstock to Frome rail link has not been ruled out – but it will not happen anytime soon.
That was the verdict from Bath and North East Somerset Council's cabinet which discussed a report looking at the cost of reopening the line.
The document from engineering consultancy Halcrow said the £40 million project would not be cost-effective.
The set-up costs would be in addition to the expense of running a rail service which is estimated to be up to £1.3 million per year.
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Passenger services ceased in November 1959 although the Radstock to Frome line remained in occasional use for commercial traffic until July 1988.
Councillor Eleanor Jackson (Lab, Radstock) encouraged the cabinet to look at the surge in the popularity of rail travel nationally over the past decade and also pointed to the possible tourism boost that could be experienced for the town if the line reopened.
Dr Jackson said: "The estimated cost is £41.3 million which makes it much cheaper than any comparable road option, while it would become easier to ship out goods from Westfield Industrial Estate and other manufacturing areas in the Somer Valley, reduce congestion in Bath, the carbon footprint and attract tourists."
George Bailey, of Radstock Action Group, also spoke at the meeting, and said: "The report focused on commuting and ignored the potential for tourism, inward commuting, education and the general accessible wellbeing required today.
"There are many families in Radstock with just one car, who would welcome the opportunity to travel, especially with young children, when the bread winner is at work.
"The elderly also find trains easier to access than buses. I therefore contend that social inclusion should be better investigated to try to promote independence."
Roger Symonds, (Lib Dem Combe Down), B&NES cabinet minister for transport, said the council would "not be shutting the door on the prospect" and promised to investigate claims that some data was more than ten years out of date.
Mr Symonds admitted that the business case for the scheme is likely to remain "challenging" for quite some time.
He added: "The door is certainly not locked and could be opened in the future."
Councillor Simon Allen (Lib Dem, Radstock) said the building of 200 new homes in the town would make the scheme more viable.