MetroWest project will be ‘essential to economic recovery of North Somerset’

An artist's impression of what Portishead station would look like once built. Picture: MetroWest.

An artist's impression of what Portishead station would look like once built. Picture: MetroWest. - Credit: MetroWest

Reopening the Portishead railway line will play a critical role in North Somerset’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis, project leaders believe.

The authority agreed to procure and award contracts for professional services to support the continuation of the development consent order process through to the MetroWest project completion.

Contracts for rail engineering technical support and rail industry technical processes up to £2million, legal services up to £2.9million, land agent fees up to £900,000 and environmental impact assessment services up to £1.9million will be awarded.

The contracts form part of the estimated total project cost of £116.4million.

The contracts of engagement will have break clauses at key milestones within the project, should the council not be in a position to proceed.

Construction work, which will include new stations in Portishead and Pill, is expected to start in December and take around two years to complete.

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Project manager James Willcock and head of major projects Jonathan Kirby said in a report to the council’s executive meeting on April 29: “MetroWest will be a key component towards the economic recovery for North Somerset and the West of England region, as part of the wider national economic recovery.

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“The Government has sent a clear message – construction is an important part of our working economy and a major catalyst for regional and national growth.

“Construction work is fundamental to providing important facilities for the future, including health, education, leisure, commercial, that our communities need to support their prosperity.

“The economic benefits underpin the overall business case for MetroWest and with the challenges ahead, hold an even greater importance to the recovery of North Somerset and the wider region.”

A final decision on procuring these works will be brought to full council in the summer.

More than £20million has already been spent on the project.

Portishead South councillor Huw James said: “This is a really vital public infrastructure project and has been a long time coming.

“It will be an essential project to rebuild public confidence after the coronavirus pandemic is over.”