Council promises £6m to open Portishead railway 'by 2021'
PUBLISHED: 06:00 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:23 22 November 2017
The 'long-drawn out saga' of reopening Portishead's train line has been promised an extra £6million to get it open within four years.
North Somerset councillors backed plans to up its funding from £2.2million to hopefully unlock money from the Department for Transport.
Members accepted the idea of the railway reopening is viewed sceptically by some after a number of delays, but believe this extra funding will be significant.
Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, executive member for transport, said: “Everybody knows that we are determined to get Portishead railway in place.
“Recent reviews showed the costs increasing and we have been working with Network Rail and our colleagues in the West of England to get costs down.”
The project was dealt a blow in the spring when it was revealed that to get trains running every half an hour between Portishead, Pill and Bristol would cost a lot more than anticipated. A twice-hourly service would cost about £145-178million – more than three times the original estimate.
Plans have been revised to create an hourly-service to reduce costs. That design work is due to finish next month.
To help ensure the scheme can go ahead, £12million has been collectively promised by North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bath and North East Somerset councils to meet the expected shortfall. That will only be spent if the DfT agrees to fund the rest of the project and the Government has been supportive of the plan.
Cllr Ap Rees said the project has been a ‘long-drawn out saga’.
Fellow Conservative councillor David Pasley added: “This is really good news for the residents of Portishead and Pill.”
He met the chairman of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy, recently and was encouraged by his support for the project.
Cllr Pasley believes ‘the scheme is on track’.
The MetroWest project had an opening target of spring 2019 but that estimation has been revised several times. It is hoped the 18-month build will begin in spring 2020 with the first trains running in December 2021.
Cllr Reyna Knight said: “It seems to have taken an awful long time to reach where we are now.
“I hope to live long enough to see Portishead railway (open) and if I don’t I will come back to haunt it.”