MetroWest is a West of England Combined Authority, in partnership with DfT, local councils and Network Rail. It will generate over a million new rail journeys and give 80,000 more people access to train services.
The examination began on the 6th October and will last approximately 6 months. During the examination, the inspectors will look in detail at the DCO application. The process begins with a preliminary meeting which is being held online because of Covid-19 restrictions and will be in two parts on Tuesday 6 October and Monday 19 October. After these meetings, the formal examination process begins, with an open floor hearing on the evening of Monday 19 October when interested parties can give the panel their views on the project. The deadline for requests to be heard at the Open Floor Hearing on 19 October 2020 has been extended to Procedural Deadline B on 14 October 2020. If you wish to participate at this hearing, please complete PINS' Open Floor Hearing involvement form
A live stream of the examination is available to watch via this link
As part of the process for DCO schemes, PINS are required to hold an examination in public (similar to a public inquiry), which takes around 6 months. This process begins with a Preliminary Meeting, notified by a Rule 6 letter which we’ve just received and can be read on PINS website. It sets out the timescales and details for the DCO examination. The Preliminary Meeting is being held online because of Covid-19 and will be in two parts; (1) Tuesday 6th October; and (2) Monday 19th October (which contains an open floor hearing in the evening). After that the examination proper commences. We anticipate it will be a very intense 6 months for the project.
The letter is 46 pages long and covers the following:
Agenda for the Preliminary Meeting
- Introduction to the Preliminary Meeting
- Initial Assessment of Principal Issues
- Draft Examination Timetable
- Notification of Open Floor Hearing on 19 October 2020 under Section 93 of the Planning Act 2008
- Availability of Examination Documents
- Other Procedural Decisions made by the Examining Authority
- Coronavirus Response: Examination Practice Changes and Your Privacy
August 2020 update
PINS sent a Rule 17 letter to all interested parties, statutory parties and other persons with a request for further information. The information request related to the upcoming examination, and participants were asked to complete a questionnaire. This can be read on PINS website
The project team await a date for the Examination but continue to prepare for it, such as updating some of the application documents and working towards agreeing Statements of Common Ground with statutory bodies.
July 2020 update
PINS have issued the Rule 4 letter – notification of the appointment of the Examining Authority. This can be read on PINS website.
Following the 129 Relevant Representations received by PINS and published on PINS website the Project Team are continuing to draft responses. All responses will be contained within a report published on PINS website no later than 10 days before the DCO Examination.
June 2020 update
Despite the ongoing disruption from the Covid-19 outbreak, the Project Team are continuing to prepare for the examination period from home. This process involves reviewing the relevant representations made to PINS and ongoing engagement with stakeholders. We are awaiting an examination date from PINS however due to the ongoing issues this is likely to cause a delay to the start date. PINS have published an advice note on their website which can be read here
- Severn Beach: Hourly services on the Severn Beach Line to Bristol Temple Meads and half hourly services from Avonmouth to Bristol Temple Meads calling at a new station at Portway next to the Park and Ride.
- Bath & Westbury: Half hourly services from Bristol Temple Meads to Bath to Westbury.
- Portishead Line: Re-opening of the Portishead Line providing an hourly service between Portishead and Bristol Temple Meads with new stations at Pill and Portishead.
Examination process to begin following the issue of the Rule 6 letter
The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has written to North Somerset Council confirming the date for the proposals for the reopening of the Portishead Branch Line to be examined. The examination is part of the complex Development Consent Order (DCO) process.The Rule 6 letter notifying of the Preliminary Meeting (PM) has been issued, and includes details of the PM, the draft Examination Timetable, notification of an Open Floor Hearing, and other related matters. During the examination, the inspectors will look in detail at the DCO application which seeks powers to build and operate the disused section of railway from Portishead to Pill, minor works to the existing freight railway through the Avon Gorge and for the compulsory acquisition of land needed for the railway to reopen. The 46-page letter received from the Planning Inspectorate confirms the appointment of the panel of inspectors who will be undertaking the examination, the date of the first meetings, and timescales for the six month process. The process begins with a preliminary meeting which is being held online because of Covid-19 restrictions and will be in two parts on Tuesday 6 October and Monday 19 October. After these meetings, the formal examination process begins, with an open floor hearing on the evening of Monday 19 October when interested parties can give the panel their views on the project. The deadline for requests to be heard at the Open Floor Hearing on 19 October 2020 has been extended to Procedural Deadline B on 14 October 2020. If you wish to participate at this hearing, please complete PINS' Open Floor Hearing involvement form.
- Henbury Line: Re-opening of the Henbury Line with new stations at Henbury, North Filton and Ashley Down, providing an hourly service from Bristol Temple Meads to Filton Abbey Wood and onto North Filton and Henbury.
- Yate & Gloucester Line: Half hourly services between Bristol Temple Meads and to Gloucester via Yate with a potential new station at Charfield.
Ashton Gate Station
Bristol City Council commissioned a study to investigate the likely costs, benefits and operational feasibility of a new station near Ashton Gate stadium.
The former Ashton Gate station was served by the Bristol to Portishead rail line, which closed to passengers in 1964.
The Greater Bristol councils are developing the £60million MetroWest rail project, Phase 1 of which includes the reopening of the Portishead rail line to passenger services.
Our studies have shown that it is not feasible to build a new Ashton Gate station as part of Phase 1. A new station at Ashton Gate remains within the MetroWest new stations package.
The West of England Joint Transport Board has stated that implementing MetroWest Phase 1 will not rule out options for an Ashton Gate station. Network Rail has also confirmed that the scheme will be future-proofed to enable a new station to be developed when the funding and business case allow.
Bristol City Council commissioned Network Rail to produce a GRIP 2 study to assess options for a new railway platform and associated station facilities at the Portway Park and Ride site.
The station would provide Park and Ride users with an alternative mode of transport to the existing bus service.
The report can be viewed below.