Rail funding bid submitted

PORTISHEAD’s commuter misery could be a thing of the past by 2015 after a bid for funding was made to create a rail link in the town.

A railway link from Portishead to Bristol could be in operation within four years if the application for funding made on July 1 is successful.

North Somerset Council has submitted a bid for �43.3 million of central government funding, to help fund the re-opening of the railway line to passenger train services.

A further �4.8m would be funded from council resources and funds previously collected in connection with developments in Portishead.

If the bid is successful, the project will provide a host of benefits to the area in terms of improved travel choices and tackling traffic congestion. It is also expected to bring increased business productivity, job creation and support economic growth.

North Somerset Council deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees said: “There is considerable local and West of England support for re-establishing a Portishead rail link into Bristol and this project would dramatically reduce travel times, with a train journey time of just 17 minutes between Portishead and Bristol.”

The project will involve major works to the existing freight line serving Royal Portbury Dock and the disused section of line between Pill and Portishead.

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In addition to funding, the project is dependent on gaining planning powers to build and operate it, which will involve a detailed environmental assessment.

Timescales for the necessary statutory processes involved vary widely, but if the funding and planning processes run smoothly, the project could be open to passenger trains by 2015. However, in a press release issued by North Somerset Council it says this timescale is optimistic and that an opening date of 2017 is more likely.

The council expects to hear the outcome of the bid later this year.