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Railway crossing work ‘must be priority’ says MP

MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has called for the speedy resolution of a deadlock over restoring train services between Bishop’s Lydeard and Minehead.

He says it is vital the West Somerset Railway Company and Somerset County Council agree an early start to essential upgrading of the level crossing at Seaward Way.

The crossing has to be improved because of the high volumes of traffic now using the road. In future instead of being automatically activated by an approaching train the barriers will have to be operated from Minehead signal box.

The work has received the approval of the Office of Rail and Road but until it can be carried out the crossing remains out of service, causing severe movement restrictions on the line.

Railway officials say as an interim measure they are hoping to run trains as far as Dunster with a shuttle coach system operating onwards to Minehead – though only for passengers who have booked seats.

Otherwise it may be July before trains are running the entire 22-mile length of the line.

Mr Liddell-Grainger, Conservative member for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said it was essential the improvement work was timetabled and carried out as quickly as possible.

“After the current extended lockdown tourism businesses in Minehead are going to need every last penny to see them through the rest of the year – and surviving without the income generated by the railway is merely going to add to that challenge” he said.

“It’s regrettable that it has taken so long to resolve this issue when the inadequacy of the current crossing has been known about for so long but I would really urge both sides now to treat this matter as an absolute priority.

“A shuttle service from Dunster is a stopgap measure but is unlikely to attract anything like the same number of passengers who would use a service running all the way through to Minehead.

“And any delays beyond July in getting the work completed are going to spell some very serious problems for Minehead’s traders.”

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