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Portishead rail ‘is going to happen’

PUBLISHED: 16:00 27 March 2015

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THE location for Portishead’s new train station has been revealed and council leaders have said the project WILL happen after years of uncertainty surrounding the possible re-opening of the line to Bristol.

The proposed location of Portishead's new train stationThe proposed location of Portishead's new train station

At a meeting of North Somerset Council’s executive on March 17, members accepted the recommendation to locate the station on a corner plot between Quays Avenue and Harbour Road known as option 2B.

This proved the most popular option with residents and interested parties who put their views forward during a public consultation last year and will see the proposed platform and building created across the existing Quays Avenue, with the northern section of the road to be realigned forming a new junction with Haven View.

Some of the options previously being considered by North Somerset required the need for a level crossing at Quays Avenue. However, after a technical assessment was submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation in January it said it ‘would not contemplate a level crossing’ at that location.

Council leader Nigel Ashton said: “The very large number of responses we received to the 
consultation last summer shows there is a great deal of interest from the community in the project.

What next...

The next stage of the process will include engineering design and outline design work as well as the creation of a planning application.

In mid/late May to mid/late June: The first of a two-stage public consultation will take place including exhibition events and meetings.

Late October to late December: Second stage of public consultation.

November: Outline business case due to be completed, including detailed design.

Late March 2016: Development consent order application will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate due to the fact the scheme is considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. The inspectorate then has 28 days to accept it for examination and then six months to look at the application in detail before making a recommendation to the Secretary of State as to whether the application should be approved. The Secretary of State then has another three months to issue its final decision.

If approved, construction is due to start in autumn 2017, with train services due to start in May

2019.

“The community has expressed a clear preference for station option 2B and I am pleased to be taking this forward through the planning and technical processes.”

For many years residents and businesses in Portishead have been calling for the railway line to Bristol to be reinstated in the hope of giving commuters an alternative transport link into the city but also to attract more investment into the town.

Once complete, hourly services will run during off-peak periods, with a half-hourly service during peak hours. The journey, which will also include stopping at Pill station, is expected to take 17 minutes.

It is understood that while no designs have yet been drawn up for the new station, there are plans to restore a former railway carriage for use as part of the new facilities.

The scheme is part of the MetroWest Phase 1 project, which is being taken forward by the four West of England councils, including North Somerset.

The wider MetroWest scheme is aimed at creating enhancements to the local rail network across the area in the next five years.

Cllr Ashton added: “We have got to this stage, I am even prepared to say it is actually going to happen. Over the years I have had to hold off and say not yet, not yet, not yet but it is probably as far as we can get to say it is actually going to happen. We have the funding in place we have the track in place.

“It will be September 2017 to start building the station and I have got the first ticket for May 2019.

“This is the first time as far as I’m concerned we are publicly saying Portishead rail is going to happen.”

Passenger train services out of Portishead began on April 18, 1867, and the last train left the station in 1964 before the line was closed and remained out of action.

Reaction to the location decision...

The estate agent:

Nick Todd, branch manager at Westcost Properties in Portishead High Street, believes the announcement of the station location will prompt even more interest in homes in the town. He said: “We have seen a steady increase continuing across the past couple of years with the station building momentum.

“Every day, vendors and buyers are talking about the station.

Everyone is aware of it now.

“People are accepting the fact it is coming, with it now being a case of when not if.

“I think it will have a positive impact on prices locally with demand peaking now people will know the location of the station.

“People will be making a choice about how close they want to be, with some perhaps not happy being close to it while others may want to be.

“We believe this is going to be very positive for the town.

“A new transport link will be a huge benefit.”

The chamber of commerce:

Vice chairman of Portishead Chamber of Commerce Kim Batchelor believes the station can only be positive for the town’s economy.

She said: “Businesses in Portishead will benefit greatly from the rail link . At the moment anyone arriving by train has to pay for a taxi or take over an hour to get out to Portishead by bus.

“This is obviously not ideal, for busy business people. The rail link will make it so much easier to get around the country and for potential clients to get to businesses here in Portishead.

“The other major benefit to business will be, the fact it will substantially increase the potential pool businesses will be able to recruit from. Being

able to recruit the right people is vital to any company and this will play an important factor in deciding where to locate a business.”

The action group:

Portishead Railway Group (PRG) will continue to work with MetroWest to ensure residents have the chance to influence the design of the station and take part in an effective public consultation.

Vice chairman Colin Howells said: “Portishead Railway Group accepts the decision of the Office of Rail Regulation, that they would not contemplate a level crossing at the proposed Quays Avenue, Portishead, location and accepts that this decision rulesout the possibility of the station being by Waitrose car park.

It now accepts that the station being on the corner of Harbour Road and Quays Avenue is the only alternative viable option.

“PRG will continue to have discussions with the MetroWest project team to ensure that the character, quality, and local distinctiveness of the town is reflected in the design of the station and its approaches.

“There are many milestones to reach before building work can begin in late 2017 and PRG will work to ensure that MetroWest adhere to the timescales that have been set.

“PRG would encourage local residents to fully engage with the consultation process and make their views known.”

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