The MetroWest Phase 1 project is proposing to re-open the Portishead rail line to passenger train services and to enhance local passenger train services on the Severn Beach and Bath to Bristol lines.
Upgrading the train service for the Severn Beach Line, the Bath Spa to Bristol Line, and reopening the Portishead Line to passenger services is a priority for the West of England’s local authorities. It will increase the UK’s passenger rail network by 14 kilometres (9 miles), connect an additional 50,000 people to the rail network and improve the existing train service for 180,000 people within 1 kilometre of existing stations.
The plans include a new rail station at Portishead and the reopening of the former station at Pill. The project is subject to funding and meeting all the regulatory and technical requirements.
The project is led by North Somerset Council on behalf of the four West of England councils: Bristol City; Bath & North East Somerset; North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
The Department for Transport (DfT) announced consent for the project on Monday 14th November 2022.
The Development Consent Order (DCO) includes planning consent, environmental consent and the compulsory acquisition of land and is required before nationally significant infrastructure projects can be built. The achievement of this major milestone means the project can now move forward towards the delivery phase.
Over the next 18 months the project will complete its detailed design, undertake ecology enabling works and, finally, submit its Full Business Case to funding decision makers (the Department for Transport, the Combined Authority and North Somerset Council).
Following the additional funding commitments from the Combined Authority, North Somerset Council, and Department for Transport – all of which closes the remaining funding gap – a response was sent to the DfT’s ‘minded to’ letter.
This included an updated Funding Statement which sets out in detail the revised estimated cost of the scheme, and details confirming that the funding needed for delivery has been secured.
The updated Funding Statement also addresses all the points set out in the letter of 19th April 2022.
The expectation is that the DCO decision can now be made no later than 14th November 2022.
The Department for Transport have committed an additional £15.5m to deliver the scheme. This is in addition to £10m committed by North Somerset Council, and another £10m committed by the West of England Combined Authority, which closes the remaining funding gap. The gap was the result of approval of the scheme’s Development Consent Order (DCO) costing more than anticipated and unprecedented global increases to the cost of energy, labour and construction materials. For further information see North Somerset Council’s press release about the additional funding and the Combined Authority’s press release about the additional funding.
North Somerset Council has been working closely with the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and the Department for Transport (DfT) for additional funding to progress the scheme. Projected capital costs of the scheme have risen to £152m following delays to approval of the scheme’s DCO and unprecedented global increases to the cost of energy, labour and construction materials. Both the council and WECA are seeking to commit an additional £10m to the project to bridge the funding shortfall and deliver the scheme, and are asking the DfT to close the remaining £15.5m funding gap.
A decision on the DCO was due on the 19th April 2022.
The Secretary of State announced a further delay to consent for construction of MetroWest Phase 1. For further information, please refer to the written statement laid out in Parliament.
As of January 14th 2022, the MetroWest Phase 1 project is still awaiting a decision on the Development Consent Order (DCO) by the Department for Transport (DfT).
The DCO application was submitted in November 2019. The process included an examination in public which took six months and ended in April 2021. The decision had been expected in October 2021 but it was confirmed then that the Secretary of State would require up to a further 6 months to make the decision.
The project team are continuing to press for a decision to be made as soon as possible.
On October 20th 2021, a Written Ministerial Statement was presented in the House of Commons stating that the deadline for the DCO decision is to be extended to 19 April 2022 (an extension of 6 months) to allow further consideration of environmental matters.
Parts of the historic Portishead railway line are to be recycled and reused as part of an exciting project with the Avon Valley Railway.
The historic railway assets, some of which date back to the 1920s, are not needed by the MetroWest Phase 1 project which is set to deliver a new £116m railway line between Portishead and Bristol.
At North Somerset Council’s meeting on the 19th July, councillors agreed that parts of the disused Portishead line could be used to assist the Avon Valley Railway Heritage Trust.
The line allows visitors to experience a bygone age of steam and heritage trains along the old Midland Railway branch line which ran between Mangotsfield and Bath. The current three-mile heritage railway line runs between Oldland and Avon Riverside and needs upgrading and improving in some areas.
The DCO Examination period began on Tuesday 6th October 2020 and lasted 6 months, closing on 19th April 2021.
It began with two preliminary hearings followed by a number of open floor and issue specific hearings. Many different parties were engaged in the Examination process raising their issues and concerns, which the Examiners then addressed to the project team. The process resulted in a significant number of written questions to the project team as well as stakeholders, partners and other bodies and individuals. A series of formal deadlines were set, and it proved to be a very intense period for the project.
Following the Examination’s closure, there is a period of three months for the Examining Authority to write its report and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State, the deadline for this being the 19th July 2021. The Secretary of State will then have three months in which to make a decision.
Network Rail are leading on the preparations to appoint the contractors who will carry out the vast amount of works required. The tendering process is multi-staged and begins with the pre-qualification questionnaire stage beginning in May/June 2021. This will be followed by the Invitation To Tender stage later on in the year.
Large Local Major Schemes: Bid for construction funding – December 2017
In December 2017, the West of England LEP and the promoting authorities (Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol City, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and the West of England Combined Authority) submitted a funding bid for MetroWest Phase 1 to the Department for Transport’s Large Local Major Schemes programme. The bid consists of:
(a) Completed bid template (Part One)
(b) Checklist to highlight where key information can be found in the Outline Business Case (Part two)
(C) Outline Business case
The Outline Business Case details the scheme’s preferred option with an identified defined scope, detailed costs and appraisal and a firm delivery plan for construction. The Department for Transport will decide which bids receive funding for construction as part of a competitive process.
All documents submitted are now available to view using the links below.
These documents may not be accessible for people using assistive technology. Please contact [email protected] if you require assistance.Bid template Download pdf PDF approximately 344.04 K Bid checklist Download pdf PDF approximately 261.11 K
Ashton Vale Road level crossing
We completed highway traffic modelling to determine the traffic impact of our proposed service for the Portishead line.
Our modelling shows that the existing Ashton Vale Road level crossing can remain open with specific mitigation and it won’t be necessary to provide alternative highway access to the Ashton Vale Industrial Estate.
Our proposals are to:
- Extend the length of the left turn flare lane on Winterstoke Road for vehicles turning in to Ashton Vale Road; and
- Optimise the phasing of the Winterstoke Road junction traffic signals by using a Microprocessor Optimised Vehicle Actuation (MOVA) system which responds to live traffic volumes by adjusting and optimising the timing of traffic signal phases to make best use of the available capacity.
We have used the results of our highway traffic modelling to produce the following videos which show the traffic impact of our scheme in the AM and PM peak hours.
We did not publish a consultation report because it became apparent in early 2017 that the cost for a half hourly passenger train service on the Portishead line was unaffordable and we would have to change the overall scheme. Our consultation report (based on a half hourly passenger service) is now available from our document store.
Below is the consultation report and appendices from the Development Consent Order Stage 1 consultation for MetroWest Phase 1. The consultation took place from 22 June to 3 August 2015.
The report contains the results of the questionnaire and feedback from everybody who took part in the consultation.
95% or respondents supported the proposals either entirely or mainly.
Based on your feedback, we will refine our plans and hold another consultation in 2016 when we will hold further exhibitions. We will then make final amendments to our planning application and submit to the Secretary of State.
This document may not be accessible for people using assistive technology. Please contact [email protected] if you require assistance.
This Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) has been published in accordance with Section 47 of the Planning Act 2008, and explains how we will keep you informed throughout the development process as well as how you can comment on the proposals and help shape the project. It also provides information on the wider MetroWest Phase 1 proposals.
This document may not be accessible for people using assistive technology. Please contact [email protected] if you require assistance.
The Environmental Impact Assessment regulations require us to produce and consult on Preliminary Environmental Information (PEI). The PEI for this stage of the consultation comprises an environmental scoping report and a baseline report. Please note that these are large files, at over 25mb each. If you have difficulties downloading the files please let us know and we will provide them in a different format.
These documents may not be accessible for people using assistive technology. Please contact [email protected] if you require assistance.
The Planning Inspectorate (on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport) has accepted the Development Consent Order (DCO) Application made by North Somerset District Council. The Application was made on 15th November 2019 and accepted for examination on 12th December 2019. The acceptance letter can be read on PINS website.
The final application consists of:
- 287 documents and 20,735 pages
- 69 sets of plans/drawings
- An Environmental Statement which has 19 chapters and 62 appendices
- The Book of Reference which has 2,465 pages
- The Consultation report which is 630 pages excluding the appendices.
When printed and stacked the application is around 7ft high!
A hard copy of the full suite of Application documents, including plans, maps and other documents may be inspected free of charge at Portishead Library, Pill Resource Centre, and Bristol Central Library until further notice.
In August 2019, following our review of title and Land Registry information, we further identified those with an interest in some of the land required for, or affected by, the proposals to re-open the Portishead branch line. We have contacted affected parties directly with details of how to respond. The consultation is now closed. Thanks to those who took part. For reference, the documentation listed in the correspondence can be viewed by clicking the link below:
At a Full Council meeting in June 2019, North Somerset Council agreed to submit a Development Consent Order (DCO) application to the Planning Inspectorate for the £116m MetroWest Phase 1 scheme. The DCO application seeks powers to build and operate the disused section of railway from Portishead to Pill, gain environmental consent to undertake works to the existing freight railway through the Avon Gorge and obtain powers for the compulsory acquisition of land. Councillors also agreed to enter into a new formal agreement with Network Rail.
Relaunching train services from Portishead with new stations at Portishead and Pill is a key part of the first phase of the MetroWest programme of transport improvements across the region being led by the West of England Combined Authority and North Somerset Council.
The West of England Joint committee has also confirmed a £500,000 allocation to the MetroWest scheme, following the Transport Secretary’s commitment of an extra £31.9m to complete the funding needed. The Severn Beach line extension to Bath and Westbury is also on track for 2021.
Once the application is registered by the Planning Inspectorate, the Secretary of State for Transport is expected to make a decision within 18 months.
Subject to final business case approval, construction work is expected to start on the Portishead to Bristol line in December 2021 and take around two years to complete.
In April 2019, MetroWest Phase 1 received over £31m funding from the Department for Transport (DfT). The announcement was made by Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport at a visit to Portishead. The funding announcement comes ahead of the submission of a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Govea
rnment this Summer. All nationally-significant infrastructure projects require a DCO before they can progress.
As well as reopening the Portishead Rail branch line, with two new stations at Portishead and at Pill, this MetroWest scheme also includes vital improvements to passenger services along the Severn Beach and Bristol to Bath Lines.
The Stage 2 Consultation on re-opening the Portishead branch line as part of MetroWest Phase 1 was held from 23 October to 4 December 2017.
We received over 1,000 responses from members of the community, statutory bodies, landowners and other interested parties. Issues raised have been captured and considered in the Stage 2 Consultation Report which is now available and will help develop the scheme.
We will continue to engage with individual stakeholders on outstanding issues or concerns regarding the development of the project as we finalise the application for a Development Consent Order (DCO). Thank you to everyone who took part.
In February 2019, following our review of title and Land Registry information, we further identified those with an interest in some of the land required for, or affected by, the proposals to re-open the Portishead branch line. We contacted affected parties directly with details of how to respond. The consultation has now closed, thank you to those who took part. The documentation that was listed in the correspondence can be viewed by clicking the link below.
In December 2017, the West of England LEP and the promoting authorities (Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol City, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and the West of England Combined Authority) submitted a funding bid for MetroWest Phase 1 to the Department for Transport’s Large Local Major Schemes programme.
More information, and a link to all documents submitted, can be found on the MetroWest Phase 1 page of this website.
Our Stage 2 Consultation was held from 23 October to 4 December 2017. The consultation has now closed.
Thank you to everyone who took part. We will consider all the responses we received and will publish a report in early 2018.
Detailed information about MetroWest Phase 1, including the information presented in our Stage 2 consultation, is available to view at our document store website.