Railway line reopening a Government 'priority' with hopes of ending 'miserable' M5 congestion
PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 October 2019
Victoria Jones/PA Wire
The Government insists reopening Portishead's railway is a 'key priority' after the project was debated in Parliament.
North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox secured an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on October 16, with politicians discussing the importance of MetroWest Phase One - which will see Portishead connected to Bristol by rail for the first time in decades.
The line is due to reopen in 2023 - four years later than scheduled - with North Somerset Council awaiting a Development Consent Order from the Planning Inspectorate.
Dr Fox took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of the £116million scheme to MPs, and to praise the 'dogged support' of campaigners.
He said: "In the mid-1950s, the town had a population of around 9,000, which had risen to some 15,000 by the time I was elected in the early 1990s. The population now stands at around 25,000.
"The increased population in what I described back in 2005 as the most overcrowded cul-de-sac in the country has inevitably put pressure on our road system.
"The A369 is the only A road out of the town, and junction 19 of the M5 is a regularly miserable experience for commuters, particularly at peak times.
"The answer to many of our problems, but by no means all, is to reopen the railway line to Portishead, providing additional capacity to our over-stretched transport network."
Dr Fox was met with support from Department for Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris, who reaffirmed the Government's support for the project after it promised to plug a £31.9million funding gap in April.
He said: "(Dr Fox) has always been an advocate of this important proposal and for improved transport links in and around his constituency.
"He describes the town of Portishead as one of the fastest growing in the south-west. Its population has risen by more than 3,000 since 2001 and is expected to increase by another 8,000 in the coming decade.
"Improving rail services for the people in the Bristol area and the West of England has been, and will remain, one of the Government's key priorities.
"The importance we place on the greater Bristol area is demonstrated, I hope, by the recent investments we have made."