Tracey Fowler, Reporter
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
A RAIL link between Portishead and Bristol could be open within four years if plans for a £1billion investment programme go ahead.
Moves to reinstate the rail link between Portishead and Bristol have moved another step closer this week following the government’s announcement of a £1billion series of investment measures across the West of England, under the proposed City Deal scheme.
The deal would see investment in major transport schemes including the Portishead rail line.
Campaigners have been working hard to secure the reopening of the line over the past five years, along with North Somerset Council, which has purchased the land the route would take.
Council leader Nigel Ashton says he is delighted the project has moved another step closer.
He said: “The council officers involved have done an excellent job in promoting and developing the scheme and I have raised it at every meeting I have attended with regional and central Government.”
In the past year, the reopening of the Portishead to Bristol rail link has received positive reaction and commitment from government ministers, culminating in recent discussions with Transport Under-Secretary Norman Baker, Transport Secretary Justine Greening and Chancellor George Osborne. However, the whole City Deal has yet to be agreed.
Cllr Ashton added: “There is still much detail to be discussed and agreed before anything is final, but I am hopeful the proposed City Deal will support the great amount of work we have done already.”
The Portishead rail element of the wider transport investments would see £32million spent on the new line, which would result in a half-hourly service from Portishead to Bristol Temple Meads via Pill.
The Campaign for Better Transport group has also thrown its weight behind the project, lobbying Justine Greening to include the project in the High Level Output Specification, which forms the basis for the Government’s rail investment plans up to 2019.