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Two trains an hour needed between Portishead and Bristol, says Nigel Ashton

PUBLISHED: 12:03 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:03 17 May 2017

North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton says he will push for two rail services from Portishead to Bristol.

North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton says he will push for two rail services from Portishead to Bristol.

Archant

Introducing two trains an hour to Bristol from Pill and Portishead remains a priority, according to North Somerset Council’s leader, despite estimated costs tripling.

The initial plan will be to get the rail line running with a reduced service, according to Cllr Nigel Ashton, but he has promised to push for the original plan of a half-hourly service to be implemented.

The council this week said the project remained ‘on track’, although the projected train line opening date has been pushed back more than a year to 2021 and the scheme is estimated to cost £145-175million, rather than £58million as forecast.

The council’s executive, as revealed by the Times a fortnight ago, has provisionally agreed to spend £2.603million – up from £1million – on technical work. That money will come from a fund provided by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership.

With an estimated £100million funding shortfall, attention is now turning to reducing costs.

Cllr Ashton said: “The early indications are that substantial cost savings can be made based on a reduced train service frequency which requires less infrastructure.

“However, the objective remains to ultimately deliver the full half-hourly service and we will continue to work with Network Rail and the Department for Transport to realise our ambitions.”

Cllr Ashton is delighted the scheme still has the backing of the Government and rail industry.

He added: “The re-opening of the Portishead line is vital to strengthening the transport infrastructure of the area and key to the success of a thriving West of England economy.

“We are committed to working together with all parties to deliver this scheme in full.”

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