Getting the train to Bristol is another step closer for people in Portishead.
The application for a Development Consent Order for the £116m MetroWest phase 1 scheme is being submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by North Somerset Council along with a formal letter of support from West of England Mayor Tim Bowles.
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.
Relaunching train services from Portishead with new stations at Portishead and Pill is a key part of the MetroWest programme of transport improvements across the region being led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and North Somerset Council.
Benefits of the wider MetroWest scheme include:
- 181,000 fewer car trips in the opening year, increasing to 278,000 fewer car trips a year by 2036
- A reduction of 7.5 million car kilometres in the opening year
- 958,980 passenger trips by rail in the opening year increasing to 1,295,103 passenger trips by 2036
- Bringing more than 50,000 people within the immediate catchment of the two new stations at Portishead and Pill
- Providing better access to employment and educational opportunities
- Upgrading the existing train service at 16 stations across three rail corridors, directly benefiting 180,000 people within a 1km catchment
- Creating 514 new direct permanent jobs and temporary jobs during construction
- Providing £3 of quantified benefits for every £1 invested to deliver the scheme, putting the scheme in the high value for money category
- Enhancing the regional economy by £264m in the first ten years.
Leader of North Somerset Council, Cllr Don Davies, said the council was committed to investing in local infrastructure: “The Portishead line is a nationally significant project that will deliver wide ranging environmental and economic benefits to our region. Once completed, MetroWest Phase 1 will connect an additional 50,000 residents directly to the national rail network and will improve the level of service for a further 180,000 residents on the Severn Beach and Bath corridors.”
Patricia Greer, Chief Executive of the West of England Combined Authority, said: “Reaching this milestone puts us within touching distance of the long awaited re-opening of the Portishead to Bristol line. It is also a significant moment in the wider MetroWest project, which will improve rail services for people right across the West of England.
“We are making major investments through MetroWest to give our region the rail network it deserves. From Severn Beach to Portishead and Henbury to Bath, we will be helping cut congestion, improve air quality and keep people moving. Making MetroWest a reality is only possible thanks to everyone involved working together, from the West of England Combined Authority and North Somerset Council to the Department for Transport and Network Rail.”
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.