'Light at the end of the tunnel' for Portishead railway as Government gives £31m
PUBLISHED: 07:49 10 April 2019 | UPDATED: 07:56 10 April 2019
Plans to reopen Portishead's railway line are 'firmly on track' after a huge sum of cash was awarded to the project this week.
There is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for the MetroWest scheme after the Department for Transport mustered a massive £31million grant.
A huge funding deficit threatened to derail the project – which will see stations built at Portishead and Pill with the reopening of the line to Bristol – but transport bosses believe they are in a position to ‘deliver rail services fit for the future’.
Delays have marred the scheme, which is being led by North Somerset Council and other local authorities, to date, with council leader Nigel Ashton in the run up to the 2015 election insisting the first trains would be running in May this year and he had ‘the first ticket’.
The project is now due to be completed in 2023, provided a Development Consent Order (DCO) can be secured from the Government.
A DCO is required for all ‘nationally-significant’ infrastructure projects, and the council will submit the paperwork in July.
Colin Medus, North Somerset Council’s head of transport, said: “The Portishead Rail scheme is a nationally-significant project that will open-up the rail network to thousands of people across the region and will help relieve congestion.
“We are committed to investing in the infrastructure of our area and this Government funding is the news we have been waiting for. MetroWest Phase One is firmly on track for delivering rail services fit for the future of our region.”
Colin Howells, vice chairman of Portishead Railway Group, believes optimism of reopening the line, which was decommissioned in the 1960s, is growing.
He said: “While there is still much work to be done, people can now believe the light at the end of the tunnel really is the oncoming train.
“We welcome the news the funding has now been secured to reopen the railway line.
“We also appreciate the hard work that has been done by the council and its officers in securing the funding required.
“We now look forward to the DCO being submitted, which will give the clearest indication to date that re-opening the railway line between Portishead and Bristol, for passengers, is a reality.”