Portishead railway plans submitted to Government with hopes of 'connecting to wider world'
PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 June 2019
Plans to reopen Portishead's railway have taken a 'huge step forward' after councillors agreed to submit blueprints to the Government.
North Somerset Council has agreed to apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) for phase one of the MetroWest project, which will see trains run from Portishead to Bristol for the first time in decades.
Councillors overwhelmingly voted in favour of submitting the DCO at the authority's meeting at Weston Town Hall on Tuesday, which is seeking permission to reconnect the defunct line to the freight railway serving the city and environmental consent to undertake work in the Avon Gorge.
The £116million project was due to be completed last month but, after being plagued by years of delays and funding shortages, bosses are confident the scheme will finally go ahead.
Approximately £264million is to be injected into the West of England's economy in the first 10 years of the project.
Council leader Don Davies said: "MetroWest phase one is a nationally significant project which will deliver wide ranging environmental and economic benefits to our region.
"Once completed, it will connect an additional 50,000 residents directly to the national rail network and will improve the level of service for a further 180,000 residents on the Severn Beach and Bath corridors."
Stations will be built at Portishead and Pill if permission is granted by the Government, with trains taking passengers to Bristol Temple Meads.
The council - which has developed the plans in conjunction with the West of England Combined Authority - hopes construction of the Portishead to Bristol line will begin in 2021, and the first trains are due to run in late 2023.
Portishead South councillor Huw James believes the project will 'connect the town to the wider world'.
He told councillors: "The other day I got from Brussels to Bristol in four hours, and then it took me two hours to get from Bristol to Portishead.
"On public transport it is an absolute bother trying to get anywhere from Portishead, and this goes a long way to making that easier.
"This will connect Portishead to Bristol in around 25 minutes. It will connect the town to where high-paid jobs are."