NOTE: Mr Cottrell has since written to the Mercury to say he meant to refer to Dunball, not Bawdrip.
A PARK and ride train station on the outskirts of Bridgwater is being proposed by a European election candidate urging for a rail service revamp.
Richard Cottrell, Independent candidate for the West in the May 2014 European elections, is calling for a modern inter-city station in Bawdrip.
Mr Cottrell, a former member of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, told the Mercury: “Baw-drip is the perfect location for a project like this. It would direct traffic to a sustainable means of transport, the railway.
“The old stop was called Bawdrip Halt. There’s a bridge already over the railway and I would suggest building the station to the north of the bridge, as there is plenty of open space.
“Services to the present town station would be better off and more frequent because my proposals include re-opening a string of stations between Bristol and Exeter.
“This new station would be for longer distances – London, South Wales and The Midlands – and it could be financed through the European Regional Development Fund.”
Mr Cottrell is also pushing for an agreement with the private West Somerset heritage railway to restore direct services between Minehead and Taunton, with some services operating to and from Bridgwater.
Sue Greaves, vice-chairman of Bawdrip Parish Council, said: “It’s a nice idea but I think this is something that needs to be well thought out and done properly. It would also require a lot of financial investment.
“Some of the old railway line, which was closed in the 1950s, has disappeared.
“Much of it is under fields and someone has built a bungalow on part of it.”
Steve Leahy, chairman of Bridg-water Chamber of Commerce, said anything that could ease congestion would be good for Bridgwater.
He added: “We are going to have a lot more traffic on our roads as a result of development in the town.
“I don’t know how much research into this project has been done at this stage, but it’s a fresh idea and a nice one in principal.
“But from discussions about Bridgwater Station in terms of a long term rail franchise, I would think we need to concentrate on developing what’s already there.”
Bridgwater Mayor Cllr David Loveridge added: “Before money is spent on a park and ride facility for Bridgwater, I would suggest we look at investing in building a bypass to ease congestion as a result of Hinkley Point C.
“More research would need to be done on a local level into a project like what Mr Cottrell is suggesting.”