A new 400 space multistorey car park at Taunton station has opened today, a month after the new ticket office welcomed travellers for the first time, a major milestone in the multimillion-pound station regeneration project.
Great Western Railway is working with Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Somerset County Council and Somerset West and Taunton Council to deliver the scheme, designed to help support the town’s economic development plans.
Improvements for the station include the new ticket office; station entrance and forecourt with additional bike spaces; and the new multi-storey car park.
An improved bus and taxi interchange and easier access to the town centre and Firepool development will also help improve the customer experience for people visiting the town by train – a number that is expected to double over the next 10 years.
GWR Regional Development Manager Matt Barnes said:
“Taunton station is a key gateway to the town and with the overall investment in the rail network – including train service improvements that have already increased capacity by almost 25% than the trains they have replaced – we are expecting passenger numbers to increase significantly over the next decade.
“We are pleased to be working with Somerset County, Somerset West and Taunton Council and the Heart of South West LEP to have been able to open the new car park today. It is fantastic to see the completion of this key phase of the project.
“It has been a long-held ambition to deliver these improvements for customers, so that they have better facilities on the forecourt, better interchange, and a lovely new ticket hall and station entrance which will link up better with the town centre – and of course a much larger car park and new access to the road network.”
Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow had the opportunity to look round the station last month.
Rebecca said: “It is really positive news that the new multi-storey car park at Taunton station will open this week. One of my key commitments as the MP has been to secure the full upgrade of Taunton Rail Station and I’m absolutely delighted it is virtually complete with this latest step.
“The whole project has been a tremendous partnership between stakeholders including GWR, Network Rail and of course was started by the previous Council with whom I worked in my early days as the MP, to secure an initial Government fund of £4.6m to get the scheme moving. Ideas developed through some round tables I held and a local survey have also been fed into the design of the car park and will also influence the landscaping. The car park will be a real benefit to those using the station.”
Karl Tucker, chair of Heart of the SW LEP said:
“It’s great to see this next stage of the major enhancements at Taunton station now complete. Following on from the new ticket hall that recently opened, the new car park will provide a major increase in capacity for rail passengers, making it easier for Somerset residents and businesses to use the train.
“We’re delighted to support the work with funding from the HotSW LEP’s Local Growth Fund, which aims to support ready-to-go projects that will contribute to our area’s post-COVID recovery.”
David Hall, Cabinet member for Economic Development at Somerset County Council’s said:
“This important development of Taunton’s key transport hub is a vital part of the ongoing work to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to support economic and residential growth.
“It’s gratifying to reach this point with our partners, Great Western Railway, Somerset West and Taunton and the Heart of the South West LEP, as we work towards ensuring Taunton is ready to meet the challenges of the future.”
Cllr Mike Rigby, Executive Member for Planning and Transport at Somerset West and Taunton Council, said:
“The Taunton Railway Station enhancements will create a more welcoming place for commuters and visitors, as well as enabling stronger links to the town centre with a new pedestrian route through Firepool and Coal Orchard.
“SWT fully supports these improvements that will ensure Taunton is well connected with a transport network to match our economic ambitions. Bringing the new multi-storey car park into use represents an important milestone for this project.”
GWR has been providing rail services throughout the pandemic and has worked to ensure that these are as safe as possible. This includes increased cleaning regimes and the use of a virucidal spray; extra staff at key stations to offer help and guidance; and processes in place to help customers maintain a safe distance where possible, such as restricting the number of reservations available.