Authorities rule out bus alternative for Portishead railway

PUBLISHED: 07:26 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 07:26 21 June 2019

An artist's impression of what Pill station would look like once built. Picture: MetroWest.

An artist's impression of what Pill station would look like once built. Picture: MetroWest.


The reopening of Portishead railway line is moving forward as planned, despite proposals which could slash the eye-watering costs.

The prospect of a bus service running along the defunct rail line has been tabled, with thoughts it could significantly reduce the cost of the £116million project.

The idea is the brainchild of former computer engineer Barry Cash, who believes the railway could be made fit for bus use for around £40million.

If the proposals were to materialise, buses would follow the route to the Cumberland Basin before joining the road network - offering greater capacity for commuters than the proposed one-train-per-hour MetroWest scheme.

To make the line suitable for bus travel, rubber panels would be fitted between the tracks. It would also mean freight trains could continue to use the line.

MetroWest is being led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and North Somerset Council.

The railway project - which will connect stations in Pill and Portishead with Bristol - has been plagued by delays and funding shortages.

But the bus alternative is not being considered after the Department for Transport (DfT) stumped up tens of millions of pounds in April to plug a huge funding shortfall.

They said: "The reopening of the Portishead railway line is a nationally-significant scheme which will improve transport in the region.

"The project, which is being led by North Somerset and WECA on behalf of South Gloucestershire, Bristol City and Bath and North East Somerset councils, is due to be submitted to the Government for formal approval this summer.

"Work is being completed on the final stages of this complex application.

"All nationally-significant infrastructure projects require a Development Consent Order (DCO) from the Government before they can progress.

"The DfT has also agreed to fund the remaining £32million shortfall in the £116million scheme showing their commitment to the project.

"Changing the scheme from rail is not something under consideration given the funding is now in place and the DCO application process is in its latter stages."

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