The re-opening of the Portishead passenger railway line remains a priority for North Somerset Council.At the council’s Executive meeting last week extra funding was agreed to enable technical work on the scheme to progress.

Re-launching 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 that will benefit the West of England region.

MetroWest Phase One is a joint scheme promoted by the four West of England councils – North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol City and South Gloucestershire – with the technical work being led by North Somerset on behalf of all the councils.

To progress this technical work the Executive recommended to Full Council the addition of a further £1.603m to the currently approved budget of £1m. This money will come from a Local Growth Fund grant from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership.

In March the West of England Joint Transport Board considered a report that showed the indicative costs of delivering the MetroWest Phase One scheme had risen from £58m to between £145m and £175m.

As a result, the board agreed the scheme should go ahead in stages. The first two stages will see improvements to services on the Severn Beach and Bath Spa to Bristol lines and an initial passenger service from Portishead.  The third stage is to increase this to a half-hourly service.

“The early indications are that substantial cost savings can be made based on a reduced train service frequency which requires less infrastructure,” said North Somerset Council Leader Cllr Nigel Ashton.

“However, the objective remains to ultimately deliver the full half-hourly service and we will continue to work with Network Rail and the Department for Transport to realise our ambitions.”

Cllr Ashton said he was delighted the scheme continues to have the backing of both the Government and the rail industry.

“The re-opening of the Portishead line is vital to strengthening the transport infrastructure of the area and key to the success of a thriving West of England economy,” he said. “We are committed to working together with all parties to deliver this scheme in full.”

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