The DfT has announced its backing for the MetroWest railway line between Portishead and Bristol after confirming the final £32m funding for the “nationally-significant” project.
The Portishead branch line shut in 1964, but is now part of a project aiming to reopen the line to passenger services by 2021 – with the project needing to plug a total funding gap of £116m.
Now, the final £31.9m of funding has been announced by the transport secretary after a meeting with local government leaders in the region, paving the way for the £116m project.
MetroWest Phase 1 is being led by North Somerset Council (NSC) and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), with a ‘development consent order’ due to be submitted to the government in July.
The Portishead rail branch line will see two new stations at Portishead and at Pill, and also includes improvements to passenger services along the Severn Beach and Bristol to Bath lines.
Head of transport and infrastructure at NSC, Colin Medus, said: “The Portishead Rail scheme is a nationally-significant project that will open-up the rail network to thousands of people across the region and will help relieve congestion during the rush hour periods.
“We are committed to investing in the infrastructure of our area and this government funding is the news we have been waiting for. MetroWest Phase 1 is firmly on track for delivering rail services fit for the future of our region.”
West of England mayor Tim Bowles commented: “This is excellent news for the region as we continue to work on our ambitious MetroWest rail plan, which will help build a transport network that works for everyone.”
A previous funding bid was rejected by the government in 2018, and the new commitment of £31.9m comes alongside £15m invested by North Somerset Council and additional funding from the Local Growth Fund and Economic Development Fund.
NSC leader Nigel Ashton said he was “delighted” to announce the funding after many years of campaigning, and said the Portishead line is “vital for the town, North Somerset and the region.”