Portishead railway project ‘on track’, promises councillor

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:25 25 July 2018

An artist's impression of Portishead's proposed new station.

An artist's impression of Portishead's proposed new station.

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The Portishead railway project is still ‘firmly on track’ despite a report labelling the chances of it receiving the £116million needed for completion as ‘reasonable’.

MetroWest phase one, which is aiming to link Portishead, Pill and Bristol Temple Meads, is facing a shortfall of almost £47million of the required £116.4million.

Last month the project missed out on the latest round of Government funding from the Department for Transport (DfT), leading to doubts about its future.

A letter sent by transport secretary Chris Grayling to North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox insisted the line remains a ‘key priority’ for the Government, but a North Somerset Council report published for its strategic planning and economic development policy and scrutiny panel seems less confident.

The council report published last week says: “The current position is £69.5million of the £116.4million estimated scheme capital out-turn has been secured, leaving a funding gap of £46.9million.

“The reassurances given by the DfT indicate there is a reasonable prospect of securing the remaining funding and officers are following this up with ongoing engagement with the Department for Transport officials.”

MORE: Railway project loses out on funding

But North Somerset councillor Elfan Ap Rees is more optimistic about the chances of securing the funding following the publication of the authority’s consultation on the line’s reopening.

More than 1,000 responses were received from October to December last year with more than 95 per cent of those in support of the MetroWest scheme.

Cllr Ap Rees, executive member with responsibility for transport, said: “Government ministers recognise this is a nationally significant project which will benefit the West of England as a whole. They have shown their support.

“The publication of this consultation also shows the huge amount of continued public support for the scheme.

“We are grateful to everyone who took the time to make their views known which helped develop the scheme.

“This consultation exercise will form a key part of our application to the Government for a Development Consent Order later this year pending a funding decision which we are confident we will get.

“Portishead rail is still firmly on track.”

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