Portishead Rail Link Gathers Steam
By vickifitz | Monday, July 09, 2012, 21:15
STEPS to reinstate the rail link between Portishead and Bristol have moved a step closer this week following the government's announcement of a £1billion series of investment measures across the West of England area under the proposed City Deal scheme.
As well as opportunities for economic growth, job creation and skills development, the deal would also see investment in major transport schemes including the Portishead Rail line.
North Somerset Council has been working hard on arrangements to secure the reopening of the line over the past five years, including purchasing the land the route would travel along and taking steps to ensure the economic viability of the service.
Council leader Nigel Ashton, said: "I am really delighted that the reinstatement of the Portishead Rail line has moved a step closer.
"On becoming Leader of the Council I made Portishead Rail one of our priorities after years of talk.
"The council officers involved have done an excellent job in promoting and developing the scheme and I have raised this issue at every meeting I've attended with regional and central government.
"In the last year I have finally received positive reaction and commitment from government ministers culminating in recent discussions with Norman Baker, Justine Greening and George Osborne.
"So far the whole City Deal has not yet been agreed, as it has to bring added economic benefit to the whole of North Somerset, including Portishead Rail.
"Over the years champions for Portishead Rail have come and gone, having unrealistically raised expectations. So our work has been progressing quietly to avoid doing that yet again.
"We have had to address the significant funding and technical issues involved as well as gaining political support from central government.
"There is still much detail to be discussed and agreed before anything is final, but I am hopeful that the proposed City Deal will support the great amount of work we have done already.
"This would be great news for the people of Portishead and North Somerset, bringing significant transport and economic benefits to the area in addition to the recent improvements to junction 19 of the M5 which have been a huge success, and the announcement of a £20m investment for improvements to junction 21 at Weston-super-Mare."
The Portishead Rail element of the wider transport investments would see £32m investment in the new line, and a half-hourly service from Portishead to Bristol Temple Meads via Pill and possibly Ashton Gate as well, and hourly to Severn Beach.