Conservative Council Leader pressures Mayor to Invest in Rail

Conservative Leader Councillor Mark Weston is urging the City Mayor to get behind the idea of accelerating delivery of the planned stations programme which form part of the £200m investment in the region’s rail network.

MetroWest is a series of infrastructure projects aimed at revitalising rail travel to be built in stages and, if all the funding and planning decisions run smoothly, will see the first phase completed by the Autumn of 2019.

At present, MetroWest Phase 1 aims to provide (i) half hourly passenger trains on the Severn Beach Line. (ii) A half-hourly service for Keynsham running on the Bath Spa to Bristol line. (iii) A revised hourly service for a reopened Portishead branch line.

The MetroWest Phase 2 proposals include new stations for Bristol at Ashley Down, Filton North and Henbury (servicing a Henbury spur) - currently not due to be implemented until 2021.

Now with the costs of the Portishead Line spiralling and the complexity of some of the engineering works needed, Cllr Weston wants Bristol’s Mayor to work with the Region’s Mayor Tim Bowles to change the ordering of the proposed works.

Cllr Weston (Con, Henbury & Brentry) said: “Everyone wants the Portishead Line to open to the public, but on the current costs this isn't feasible. So rather than delay phase two of the programme, lets pause the Portishead proposals whilst additional work is conducted to bring down costs and simplify the plan, continue with the Bath and Severn Beach line proposals, and bring forward the Henbury line as soon as possible.

“This isn't about shelving the Portishead Line but I would hate for us to miss a rail opportunity that will bring massive benefits to North Bristol. Let us keep the focus on rail improvements but simply alter the running order to complete the Henbury Line sooner."