MetroWest: Portishead to Bristol rail line back on track after securing funding

portishead railway line
A design of how the Portishead station could look. Credit: MetroWest

The reopening of the Portishead to Bristol railway line has taken another step forward, with news of extra government funds totalling £15m.

In addition, a further £10m injection was agreed by the West of England Combined Authority today (Friday 29 July), which would close the remaining funding gap.

The line, which closed to passengers six decades ago, was due to reopen in 2024 as part of a multi-million-pound scheme to improve public transport in the region.

But delays due to environmental issues and skyrocketing inflation have raised doubts over whether it will ever be brought back into service.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: "This should be the final piece of the funding jigsaw. This cash will allow us to conclude the final design work and then start the building and construction work in earnest.

"Re-opening the important Portishead to Bristol line to passengers has been a very long time coming. The line closed when I was four years old. It is now vital we get on with it at pace."

However, despite funding now being in place for the project, there are still hurdles for the project to overcome.

The Development Consent Order for the scheme still needs to be approved (where the relevant Secretary of State gives national consent after a recommendation from the national planning inspectorate). The Secretary of State has set a new deadline of 19 February 2023 for this decision.

Mayor Norris said: "We need that decision as soon as possible. Inflation is going through the roof and every day’s delay adds more cost. I will be chasing the Secretary of State to accelerate this process as much as possible.

"This is a really important project. It will provide fast links for people in South Bristol and across the city to Portishead and back. It is a vital part of helping us reach our very ambitious net zero target of 2030.

"It will also impact positively on the whole of the West of England and North Somerset economy to create jobs and opportunity while cutting car use."