Council’s £850k deal for ‘exciting’ rail project

PUBLISHED: 11:00 20 April 2016

The new route will provide a half-hourly train service between Portishead and Bristol Temple Meads.

The new route will provide a half-hourly train service between Portishead and Bristol Temple Meads.

Archant

Construction of the new railway station in Portishead should begin next year, North Somerset Council’s leader has confirmed.

North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton believes construction work will begin in 2017.North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton believes construction work will begin in 2017.

Cllr Nigel Ashton said work will begin in 2017 after the council agreed to buy two pieces of land which will be used to create stations at Portishead and Pill.

The MetroWest project will create a line linking Portishead and Pill with Bristol Temple Meads and is part of a wider £100million project being rolled out by MetroWest, which will also improve services to Yate, Henbury, Filton, Keynsham and Severn Beach.

The Times revealed earlier this year that the complicated nature of the Portishead line meant its initial opening date of spring 2019 had been delayed, with the council confident it will be operational by late 2019. MetroWest, however, is aiming for the line to be open by mid-2020.

Cllr Ashton told the council’s executive at a meeting on April 12 that he now hoped works would start on the line in 2017.

The Conservative councillor said: “We are making progress.

“It (the line) is going to happen and I think we will start the station (work) next year.”

Although the council and Network Rail already own 95 per cent of the land required to make the project a reality, this did not include the Portishead station land at Quays Avenue or the existing Pill station, which will be reopened.

The executive voted on April 12 to buy both sites at a cost of £880,000.

Cllr David Pasley, the executive member for asset management, said: “We are now at stage three of eight of the project. By late 2019 it will provide a half-hourly train service from Portishead and Pill to Temple Meads and Bath Spa.

“It is one of the most exciting transport projects this council has undertaken.

“It comprises rebuilding 5km of disused rail, building a new station in Portishead, building a new station on the former Pill station and upgrading the Portbury freight lines.”

Calls for a rail line connecting Portishead with Bristol have been made for years.

Portishead Railway Group was set up in 2000 and its vice chairman Colin Howells was pleased to hear of the progress being made.

He told the Times: “We have confidence in the MetroWest team.

“We obviously think when it is open it will make a major improvement to the transport infrastructure in Portishead.

“This is another step forward.”

The move was also welcomed by Portishead ward councillor Reyna Knight, who assured councillors the ‘slow’ project was still moving forward.

She said: “We need that link in Portishead if we are going to play down the traffic problems we have.

“This link is essential. I know it is slow, but it is coming.”

MetroWest carried out public consultation on plans for Pill Railway Station last month but its findings have yet to be published.

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