PASSIONATE campaigners who have worked for a decade to have Chard Junction station reopened have received a boost after the transport secretary announced plans for railway lines closed in 1960s.

Chard Junction station was one of 2,363 station which closed in 1960s.

The announcement from Transport Secretary Chris Grayling coincided with a meeting between campaigners, Chard county councillors, and the cabinet member for transport and highways, John Woodman.

Andrew Turpin, the district councillor for Tatworth and Forton, said: “This is a new and exciting opportunity.

“Surrounding the station live around 20,000 people, including Thorncombe, Winsham, Tatworth and Forton, but with only a thinly spread public transport provision with no Sunday or evening service.”

The recent meeting also saw Chard Junction campaigners call for an expansion of the Devon Metro scheme to reach South Somerset.

Cllr Turpin added: “The outcome was that together with Devon County Council, SCC would revisit this. With this announcement, I find this all very exciting - a real opportunity.”

Chris Grayling said he wants to identify which routes would boost the economy, encourage house-building and ease overcrowding.

An SCC spokesman said: “Rail has potential to be an important part of the transport mix in this county.

“We welcome the interest and attention from the Transport Secretary and await detail of any additional support to help local communities take projects forward.

“As things stand, the barriers that were there before still remain – the significant costs needed to demonstrate the viability of potential schemes in terms of passenger demand and construction costs. Then constructions costs of any scheme should it be deemed viable.”

Gemma Verdon, county councillor for Chard South, and Amanda Broom, county councillor for Chard North, were also at the meeting.

Cllr Verdon said: “Investment in Chard Junction Station from private companies, for a commercially viable solution, is essential to boost the local economy and encourage house building.

“We wait to see more detail on how this would be taken forward and how the major issue of funding, for example for initial feasibility studies, will be addressed.”

Cllr Broom added: “With congested roads, and limited public transport in many areas, reopening stations will only be a positive for local economies and residents.

“Our public transport is life-limiting for many, not just in rural areas, but in key towns such as Chard, residents deserve a decent transport network.

“We argued, and will continue to argue, that any form of investment by SCC, or other interested parties, such as developers, will deliver economic benefits - something Chard and the surrounding area desperately needs.”