Spiralling costs force Portishead rethink

FURTHER consultation has taken place into the viability of reopening the Bristol to Portishead line to passengers.

Costs for the first phase of the project have almost trebled, from £58million to between £145m and £175m, putting the proposed half-hourly service beyond reach.

Passenger trains could once again be running through the Avon Gorge to Portishead if a scaled-back scheme to reopen the line gets the go-ahead. Currently, the line is used only by freight trains to Portbury Docks, such as this train of gypsum from West Burton, hauled by GBRf’s No. 66720 on July 15, 2015. RICHARD GILES

The new consultation sought feedback about an hourly service – known as MetroWest Phase 1 – using a scaled-back version of the proposed infrastructure, but still serving two new stations at Pill and Portishead. Around five miles of the route is already used by freight trains to Portbury Docks, and would need only minor modifications, but the remaining section requires more extensive rebuilding.

Passenger services to Portishead ceased in 1964, with freight continuing until 1981. The section from Parson Street Junction to the Royal Portbury Dock bulk terminal reopened to freight in 2002.

Funding will be requested from the Department for Transport’s Large Local Major Transport Scheme Fund, with North Somerset Council contributing an extra £6m in addition to £12m already promised by local councils, dependent on DfT funding.

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