Councillors confident trains to Bristol from Portishead will run 'by 2023'
PUBLISHED: 06:55 01 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:42 01 March 2019
Trains should be running between Portishead and Bristol within four-and-a-half years.
Years of delays have dogged the project but senior councillors are confident it is moving forward.
Councillors voted unanimously to plough £15million from the economic development fund into the first phase of the MetroWest project – subject to approval by the West of England Joint Committee.
Portishead Rail is the largest local government-promoted rail scheme in England and the town’s line was decommissioned in the 1960s.
Cllr David Pasley said: “We have been promised time and time again for a railway to return to Portishead and it is not through a lack of trying.
“This will help North Somerset play its part in climate change by reducing exhaust fumes as fewer cars will be using the road.
“It will connect 50,000 people to major transport networks and also create jobs, this scheme will significantly improve our region.”
The MetroWest programme is a £116million project for transport improvements across the region.
A request of up to £11.65million from the local growth fund to complete detailed design and address any issues which may arise as part of the development consent order (DCO) application will also be made. Authorisation to submit the DCO – the equivalent of planning permission – will be decided at a full council meeting later this spring.
Further news on additional funding for the project from the Government is expected in the next few months.
Council leader Nigel Ashton said: “The funding gap needs to be resolved to enable us to deliver MetroWest phase one by 2023 and the £15million identified through regional funding will help to achieve this.
“This is a nationally-significant project and by working in partnership with Network Rail, the West of England Combined Authority and the Department for Transport we will be able to provide a rail solution which will meet the needs of the many residents and businesses within the South West as a whole.”
Colin Howells, vice-chairman of Portishead Railway Group, said: “While there is still much work to be done, including securing the remaining funds from Network Rail, people can begin to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.”