Portishead to Bristol in 17 minutes

COMMUTERS travelling from Portishead to Bristol could get to their destination in just 17 minutes if a rail link was reopened in the town.

Following a year-long study between Network Rail and North Somerset Council, a report has been published, looking into how feasible a project would be and how much it could cost.

If completed, the link would end misery for many drivers left in long queues on the A369 during rush hour.

However, the earliest the project could be completed is 2017 with major works needed for the passenger service to be reinstated.

This includes upgrading the existing Portbury freight line to a speed of 55mph, reinstating Pill railway station, replacing disused track between Portbury Dock and Portishead, creating a new station in Harbour Road and building a new road bridge over the railway at Quays Avenue.

The estimated construction cost is �38.9million, yet, North Somerset Council’s executive member for transport, Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, said he is encouraged by the report.

He said: “Network Rail has examined all the options and associated engineering implications very thoroughly and while the estimated costs are higher than previously thought, the train journey times are much better than we had initially estimated.

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“The re-opening of the line would put an end to years of commuting misery with a journey time into Bristol from Portishead of around 17 minutes.”

The minimum level of service would see passenger trains operating every half hour at peak times and hourly at off-peak times, travelling from Portishead, calling at Pill and terminating at Bristol Temple Meads.

The report states there could be the option of calling at other stations but this would delay journey times and increase costs.

According, to Cllr Ap Rees, who now hopes to talk to the Department of Transport to establish a funding package, the earliest construction could start would be late 2015 with services re-introduced in early 2017.

Passenger services from Portishead to Bristol were cut in the 1960s but the line to Portbury Dock was re-opened in 2002 for freight trains.