Taunton railway station

Taunton railway station

Infobox UK station
name = Taunton

locale = Taunton
borough = Taunton Deane, Somerset
code = TAU
manager = First Great Western
platforms = 6
latitude = 51.0228
longitude = -3.1035
usage0203 = 0.768
usage0405 = 0.837
usage0506 = 0.903
usage0607 = 0.951
original = Bristol and Exeter Railway
pregroup = Great Western Railway
postgroup = Great Western Railway
years = 1842
events = Brunel station opened
years1 = 1868
events1 = Rebuilt in conventional form
years2 = 1932
events2 = Rebuilt with four tracks

Taunton railway station is a junction station on the London to Penzance Line, convert|143|mi|km from London Paddington station.cite web |title = National Rail Timetable 135 (Winter 2007)|publisher= Network Rail|url = http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/eNRT/Dec07/timetables/Table135.pdf|format=PDF] It is situated in Taunton, Somerset, England and is operated by First Great Western but also served by CrossCountry trains.


Originally opened on 1 July 1842 as part of the Bristol and Exeter Railway, Taunton was the terminus of the line until a new temporary terminus was opened on 1 May 1843 further west at Beambridge.cite book| last = MacDermot| first = E T| title = History of the Great Western Railway, volume II 1863-1921| publisher = Great Western Railway| date = 1931| location = London]

Isambard Kingdom Brunel's original design was for a single-sided station with two platforms, each with their own buildings and train sheds, placed on the south side of the line. An hotel was built between them and the Grand Western Canal.cite book | last = Broad Gauge Society | title = Taunton in the 1880s | publisher = Broad Gauge Society | date = 2001] Having both platforms on the town side of the line was meant to help passengers but was found to be problematic as the railway became busier, with each train having to cross the line used by trains in the opposite direction. An engine shed was provided at the west end of the station.

A series of branches opened in the area during the next thirty years. While none of them had a junction in Taunton, the trains were generally run through to Taunton to provide connections. These were the Yeovil branch line (1 October 1853); the West Somerset Railway to Watchet (31 March 1862); the Chard branch (11 September 1866); and the Devon and Somerset Railway (8 June 1871, extended to Barnstaple 1 November 1873).

The station was unable to cope with all these extra trains and passengers so a major rebuilding was completed on 17 August 1868. The "up station" at the east end was demolished and replaced by more conventional platform on the north side of the line; the "down station" was extended onto the site now vacated, and a new single convert|200|ft|m train shed was provided covering the whole station. Goods traffic was moved away from the passenger platforms by the opening on 1 November 1896 of a pair of avoiding lines that skirted around the south side of the station behind the old hotel. A larger engine shed was opened in the same year.cite book | last = Maggs | first = Colin G | title = Taunton Steam | publisher = Millstream Books | date = 1991 | location = Bath | id = ISBN 0 948975 26 1]

The platforms were extended again in 1895. Now covering the whole length of the original single-sided station, they were the longest platforms on the Great Western Railway which had amalgamated with the Bristol and Exeter company on 1 January 1876. New bay platforms were added to handle the trains from the branch lines.

In the 1930s the lines through Taunton from Cogload Junction to Norton Fitzwarren were widened from two to four tracks; those east of Taunton were brought into use on 13 December 1931 and those to the west on 14 February 1932. [cite book | last = Cooke | first = RA | title = Track Layout Diagrams of the GWR and BR WR, Section 16: West Somerset | publisher = RA Cooke | date = 1979 | location = Harwell ] This work forced another rebuilding of the station. The train shed was dismantled and new buildings constructed on the up (north) side along with a new island platform in the middle of the station. This gave a platform face for each of the four through lines, which were brought into use on 7 February 1932. Work included a new subway that replaced the old footbridge, and a new booking office at road level on the north side of the station. The old goods shed was replaced by a two-storey goods warehouse next to the avoiding line, east of the station on 20 February 1932.The goods depot closed for general traffic in 1965, although bulk coal was handled until 1972. The engine shed closed on 1 January 1972 by which time it only served as a fueling point for local diesel shunting locomotives. The various branch lines closed during the 1960s and 1970s so only one bay platform was retained for local trains starting towards Bristol, and even the island platform was taken out of regular use for a few years, although it could be opened up in an emergency but it had no platform numbers nor a lift. This has now been reversed, the platforms being reopened in 2000 [cite book | last = Oakley | first = Mike | title = Somerset Railway Stations | publisher = Redcliffe Press | date = 2006 | location = Bristol| id = ISBN 1-90453-754-5] and a new lift installed in 2007 to replace an electric "stair lift" which could carry one seated person at a time but no luggage. A west-facing bay platform has also been reinstated for passeneger use, although there are no regular trains timetabled to use it.

Today the original "down station" building survives, along with the hotel and the extensions added in 1868. An examination of the brickwork on the south-side building reveals where the footbridge was removed in favour of the present subway. On the north side, the ticket office dates from 1983 but the remaining buildings generally date from the 1932 rebuilding and stand on foundations from 1868. The goods warehouse is largely derelict and most of the engine shed has been razed to the ground except for an asbestos-clad repair shop built in 1932 and the ramp that used to serve an elevated coaling stage. The engine sidings are still used by engineers' plant machines; Freightliner locomotives are generally stabled at Fairwater Yard but occasionally use the old engine shed sidings for additional storage space. The avoiding line is truncated but serves as a headshunt for the long engineers trains using Fairwater Yard.


The station is situated on an embankment and a bridge above road level. The ticket office is at ground level on the north side although the town centre lies to the south of the station, about convert|1|mi|kmaway. There is a car park on both sides of the station and bus services to the town centre call at a bus stop in front of the ticket office; those from the town call at a stop on the main road that passes beneath the station.

The platform above the ticket office is Platform 5, which is the main platform used by trains towards London Paddington and also Bristol and the north. The station buffet is situated on this platform. An east-facing bay platform, Platform 6, is beyond this; it only sees occasional use nowadays, mainly being used for local trains towards Bristol.

In the centre of the station is an island platform. The face on the north side is Platform 4 which can be used by similar trains to Platform 5. The face on the south side is Platform 3, which is used as an extra platform for services towards Exeter but is mainly used for terminating services from the Bristol direction that can also start back from this platform.

The southerly platform is Platform 2 and is the main platform for services to Exeter and beyond. Trains can also start from this platform towards London and Bristol if required. At the north end is the bus shelter for rail-link buses to Minehead and Ilfracombe. It has level access from a second car park.

At the west end of this platform is another bay platform, Platform 1. While this is signalled for passenger trains it is not generally used for these. Behind this are some sidings used by the engineers department for stabling on-track plant, and the disused engine shed. The line behind this is the headshunt for Fairwater Yard.

Terminating trains from Bristol that need to cross to Platform 2 or 3 have to run forward towards Fairwater and then return to the station once the driver has changed ends. To reach Platform 6 they have to make this move and then run right through the station, the driver change ends, and then reverse into Platform 6. First Great Western have proposed [cite web| title =Network Rail Business Plan 2007: Route 12| publisher =Network Rail| url =http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/BusinessPlan2007/PDF/Route%2012%20Reading%20to%20Penzance.pdf| format =PDF] that alterations be made to the layout at the east end of the station to allow terminating trains from Bristol to run straight into Platform 6.


First Great Western operates regular intercity services from Taunton to London Paddington with trains running almost every half an hour during peak hours and every hour during off peak hours. They also operate the Night Riviera sleeper service from Penzance to London.

The high speed service from London Paddington continues to Exeter St Davids then either Paignton or Plymouth and Penzance. These services usually run via Westbury but some operate via Bristol. They also run an hourly service from Taunton to Bristol and Cardiff. [cite web |title = National Rail Timetable 134 (Winter 2007)|publisher= Network Rail|url = http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/eNRT/Dec07/timetables/Table134.pdf|format=PDF]

CrossCountry operates long distance services between Scotland or the north of England and Paignton, Plymouth and Penzance. [cite web |title = National Rail Timetable 51 (Winter 2007)|publisher= Network Rail|url = http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/eNRT/Dec07/timetables/Table51.pdf|format=PDF]

Other services that call at Taunton on a less frequent basis include:
* Special shuttle services between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard in connection with special events on the West Somerset Railway. These are operated by CrossCountry or another main line operator.
* The "Torbay Express" steam-hauled service from Bristol and Weston-super-Mare to Kingswear on summer weekends.

Fairwater Yard anchor|fairwater Yard

A marshalling yard was opened to the west of the station on 30 July 1946. It was used for many years by the British Railways' Civil Engineer and was home to a Ruston and Hornsby 0-6-0 diesel shunter, PWM652. After the end of this permanent way work the sidings were little used, mainly being a place to store unwanted wagons.

During 2006 they were relaid and in January 2007 were returned to use. Fairwater is now the home for a High Output Track Renewal System. This is engaged on renewal of track on the Great Western Main Line west of Swindon , the Reading to Exeter Main Line and the Bristol to Taunton Line. The equipment based in the yard is a Plasser and Thueurer High Output Ballast Cleaner, a Matisa High Output Track Renewal Train, and smaller on-track plant. [cite journal | title = Taunton: high output base | journal = Modern Railways | volume = 64 | issue = 703 | pages = 20 | publisher = Ian Allan Publishing | date = April 2007 | id = ISSN 0026-8356] Trains are mainly worked by Freightliner locomotives and Bo-Bo 73133 is used as the yard shunter.


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