Transport Secretary says reopening Portishead rail link is a ‘key priority’
PUBLISHED: 07:17 06 June 2018 | UPDATED: 07:17 06 June 2018
The Portishead railway project remains a ‘key priority’ despite missing out on millions of pounds of Government funding last month.
MetroWest phase one – which aims to link Portishead, Pill and Bristol Temple Meads – was not awarded any money in the Department for Transport’s latest round of funding, to the ‘disappointment of North Somerset Council.
But a letter sent by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox has confirmed Portishead is still seen as a ‘vital part’ of the MetroWest scheme, hinting it is top of the list for Network Rail’s control period six (CP6) – a five-year railway improvement plan to 2024.
The letter says: “I am writing to reassure you of the importance I place on the department supporting options to improve connections between Portishead and Bristol.
“The delivery of MetroWest is one of my key priorities in CP6.”
“I have been clear the scheme must meet the needs of passengers, the rail industry and all interested stakeholders.
“Although my officials are working with the West of England Combined Authority on this project and I am aware this body does not represent North Somerset, I want to reassure you that I see Portishead as a vital part of this project.”
Dr Fox has welcomed the ‘reassuring confirmation’ the project is still on track while the Portishead Railway Group remains optimistic it will be delivered.
Vice-chairman Colin Howells said: “I am sure both Mr Grayling and Dr Fox understand and share the strength of local frustration with the delays, and we look forward to the funding being approved to complete the project in the near future.”
More than 1,000 people have also signed an online petition launched by campaign group Portishead Back On Track.
Organisers Thomas Gravatt and Huw James are planning to present the petition to Dr Fox on Friday.
They said: “Continuing delays on reinstating rail passenger services between Portishead and Bristol now seriously threaten sustainable economic growth in the whole Gordano Valley area with its strikingly poor transport infrastructure.”
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