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Taw Valley Halt rail station can open to public
A TEMPORARY station on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway has been given the go ahead to open to the public at Taw Valley after months of planning delays.
The Taw Valley Halt station will allow passengers to access the railway from Moulden Hill ahead of the construction of a permanent station.
The platform is completed and the planning application was submitted in September 2012, but the Environment Agency wanted to conduct extensive wildlife surveys before opening up the access path.
Concerns over the conservation of protected species, such as bats and great crested newts, were raised in regard to the demolition of an existing railway bridge in the area.
Following a protected species survey, the Environment Agency has now removed any objections to the development, which will include the demolition of the old railway bridge and construction of an access path, ahead of the station opening to the public.
The path will be 30 metres long and leads up the old track to meet the platform.
The extension took volunteers about six months to put in place.
It extended the length of useable track to two-and-a-quarter miles. It also features a loop that allows the locomotive to double back at the end and pull the carriages back to Blunsdon, rather than pulling one way and pushing the other.
The volunteers who run the railway secured £65,000 from Swindon Council to extend the line in 2010. The extension follows the route of the Midland and South Western Junction Railway (M&SWJR), which ran from Andover in the south to Andoversford in the north.
After 1923, it became a branch line of the Great Western Railway, but closed in the 1960s.
Work has now begun on the final extension to Cricklade, which will complete the journey.
Mayor of Swindon, Nick Martin, welcomed the decision and hinted it could open up the historic rail line, which is currently run on a voluntary basis, to bring in some more income.
He said: “This is exceptionally good news for Swindon. The Swindon and Cricklade Railway is quite fabulous, and to achieve our future we should always remember our past. “It is great to already have the Steam Museum, and it is even better to have the Swindon and Cricklade Railway running live now. “I am delighted they have the approval to go ahead with the Halt, which will open up the railway to even more people in the town.
“If it is in the right sort of position the voluntary railway will be able to charge people for their journeys.”
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