Somerset District and Circle Line is an early-stage scheme proposed by Transition Langport‘s Community Transport Task Force.

The aims of the scheme are threefold:

  1. Create a new Langport station between Taunton and Castle Cary on the site of Langport East station, which closed in 1962. This would become a calling point on the London Paddington – Westbury – Taunton stopping service.
  2. In the longer term, create the circular route shown on the map below.
  3. Provide a community service on the circular route using Vivarail Class 230 D-Trains converted to run on biomethane. The scheme’s promoters refer to these as “the Underground trains on the District and Circle Lines in London that are being sold off to be refurbished for use elsewhere”, but they are clearly referring to Vivarail D-Trains such as those now operating on the Marston Vale line from Bletchley to Bedford.
Somerset District and Circle Line. Graphic by Jack Martin Leith, ReopeningsIndex, based on OpenStreetMap

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Transition Langport is seeking funding for a feasibility study that it hopes will enable it to obtain further funding from the Department for Transport’s Restoring Your Railway Fund in order to develop a business case.

Why orbital railway proposals are rarely successful

The following points were made in reference to a proposed orbital railway in London:

There are complications which could prevent these lines running as single fully orbital route. Orbital railways have an intrinsic timetabling robustness problem. The trains are constantly “in orbit” so there is little scope for “recovery time” if they are delayed. A single delay can have long-lasting knock-on effects and be much more disruptive than on a radial railway. Recovery time can be created by timetabling for longer stops at some stations but this increases journey times and reduces train frequency. (For this reason, on 13 December 2009 the Circle line was changed to a spiral route with distinct endpoints.) In this light, it is hard to see a larger and more complicated orbital railway being approved.

Source: Orbirail – Wikipedia.

Further reading

Department for Transport – Restoring Your Railway Fund

Somerset District and Circle Line website

Vivarail Class 230 D-Train – Wikipedia