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Soaring cost of Portishead to Bristol railway project ‘unacceptable, says Dr Liam Fox MP

PUBLISHED: 06:09 31 March 2017

An artist's impression of what the new Portishead station will look like.

An artist's impression of what the new Portishead station will look like.

Archant

The staggering £100million cost increase to deliver the Portishead to Bristol railway line is ‘unacceptable’, according to North Somerset’s Conservative MP.

Dr Liam Fox has criticised this month’s revelation that the project will be delayed by at least one year and fears North Somerset is losing out to other transport schemes.

He said: “The cost overrun is unacceptable.

“I have a strong suspicion we are being asked to pay for other people’s projects.”

The West of England Joint Transport Board admitted this month that the cost of delivering MetroWest Phase One has trebled and revealed it planned to split the scheme into three stages.

The first would see improvements to the Severn Beach and Bath lines to Bristol.

The second step would be to reopen the Portishead and Pill rail links to Bristol Temple Meads with an hourly service.

And then the third – and most costly – stage would see works carried out to increase train speeds so as to double the regularity of the service.

The JTB though says to deliver those steps will now cost up to £175million, rather than £58million, and trains to Portishead will not run until at least 2021, as opposed to 2019-2020.

With approximately £100million in funding to be found to complete the three-stage project, attention has turned to see where costs might be saved, including building simpler stations.

Dr Fox however believes a Bristol rail link is crucial for Portishead and needs to be built sooner rather than later.

He said: “In the House of Commons I commented that Portishead had become ‘the most overcrowded cul-de-sac in Britain’, and have consistently argued that a new rail link is essential to help reduce transport problems on the A369, especially at junction 19 of the M5’.

“The development of Portishead has been a spectacular success that we should be very proud of, but the issue of transport has never been properly addressed.”

In a survey of Times readers, 66 per cent of respondents said they did not think the railway line would ever open.

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