Major step forward for Portishead Rail

The MetroWest project, to re-open the Portishead to Bristol train line, has taken another important step forward.

At last night’s Full Council meeting, North Somerset Council agreed to allocate up to £15m of regional funding from the Economic Development Fund to help reduce the funding gap for the project, subject to approval by the West of England Joint Committee.

Authorisation was also given to request up to £11.65m from the Local Growth Fund to complete detailed design and to address any issues that may arise as part of the Development Consent Order (DCO) application to the Government, which all nationally significant infrastructure projects require before they can progress.

Re-launching train services from Portishead with new stations at Portishead and Pill is a key part of the first phase of the £116m MetroWest programme of transport improvements across the region being led by the West of England authorities.

Leader of North Somerset Council Cllr Nigel Ashton said the council remains committed to investing in local infrastructure: “The funding gap needs to be resolved to enable us to deliver MetroWest phase 1 by 2023. The £15m identified through regional funding will help to achieve this.  Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, has again expressed his support for the project.

“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 regional rail solution that will meet the needs of the many residents and businesses not only within North Somerset but within the region as a whole.

“Portishead Rail is the largest local government-promoted rail scheme in England and once completed will connect an additional 50,000 residents directly to the national rail network.”

Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles, added: “I want the West of England to have the rail network it deserves to help reduce congestion, improve air quality and keep people moving. This is a really positive step in the right direction and compliments our plans to provide direct services between Severn Beach and Bath for the first time, as well as the re-opening of Henbury train station.”

Authorisation to submit the Portishead Rail Development Consent Order (DCO) 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.