In response to questions raised at the last Members’ Forum, the Mayor remained non-committal on the project but did not entirely rule out its inclusion in future capital spending plans.
Undeterred, Cllr Lucas, the Conservative Mayoral Candidate, is keen to keep this issue alive and not allow it to be ‘kicked into the long grass’ of perpetual feasibility studies and expensive consultations.
Instead, he believes there is huge potential for such a station at this important south Bristol location to play a major part in the city’s public transport network. Once built, this would not only serve the sporting venue for Bristol City Football Club and Bristol Rugby but also the planned Bristol Arena.
Now, Conservatives intend to keep the pressure on the Mayor to deliver more rail investment by pushing for funding to be included in his outline budget proposals to be published next week – at the beginning of the Council’s formal consultation process.
Cllr Lucas said: “Whilst I understand the Mayor’s caution on committing large sums towards this development at this stage, I intend to do everything possible – including working with the Mayor - to try to realise this ambition.
“I am pleased my colleagues are behind me in this by making the support for this project one of our main negotiations priorities with the Mayor for inclusion or amendment to next year’s transport budget.
“Investing in rail is the way forward and I see a real role for Ashton Gate station to run special ‘shuttle’ services to and from Temple Meads – coordinated with the Arena events timetable – to become an indispensable asset to the city and attractive option for the travelling public.
“It’s ranking as one of our key infrastructure commitments – by finding funding to develop a business case which will progress this to the next stage of concrete capital investment - attests to the importance we place on rail and, specifically, the prominence given to this new station.”