A cash hole in the project to reopen the Bristol to Portishead railway line has been plugged (today, Friday 29 July 2022).
Metro Mayor Dan Norris called an emergency meeting of the West of England Combined Authority he leads after he and Cllr Bridger, leader of North Somerset Council, secured a promise of £15.5m of government cash.
In the emergency meeting the Metro Mayor, and councillors Don Alexander, Tim Ball and Steve Reade/Toby Savage agreed to also invest £10m of the West of England Authority’s resources. This means all the remaining funding needed to build the line is now in place.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “This should be the final piece of the funding jigsaw. This cash will allow us 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 4 years old. It is now vital we get on with it at pace.”
However Mayor Norris warned that, until the Development Consent Order is approved (where the relevant Secretary of State gives national permission and consent after a recommendation from the national planning inspectorate), there were still possible minefields ahead. The Secretary of State has set a new deadline of 19 February 2023 for the decision on the application.
The Mayor 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.”