Plans to re-open the Portishead train line have been ongoing for many years, with the start date for services now pushed back from December 2023 to December 2024. Delays to the reopening of this line are unfortunately nothing new, but since I was elected I have been continuing to campaign on this issue and place pressure on the Government to reach a final decision on the reopening.
The re-opening is due to go ahead as a key part of the MetroWest project which will link and upgrade the railway system in the Bristol area. As the project is considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, it requires a Development Consent Order so as to attain the planning powers needed to build and operate the project. Back in April I received confirmation that the Development Consent Order examination had been completed, with the Examining Authority then having three months to prepare and submit its Recommendation Report to the Secretary of State for Transport. A final decision on the Portishead Branch Line application is now promised in October, and with the re-opening of this line set to bring real improvements to commuting times and road congestion in Bristol South, I am eagerly waiting for the announcement.
Commuters coming into Bristol from North Somerset currently add to the already congested roads in south Bristol, with capacity on the current train services coming through Bedminster and Parson Street also being overstretched. The reopening of the Portishead line will take people off the roads and onto rail and provide extra services from Bedminster and Parsons Street.
A greater number of rail connections into the centre will help drive up economic growth, making communities in south Bristol better connected and boosting the economic recovery of the area following the pandemic. Reduced road congestion and more options for greener travel will also have a real positive impact on air quality in south Bristol, and make the area a more pleasant place to live.
I will be continuing to push for the best possible outcomes for constituents, as this process has taken us years to get to this point and we cannot let any progress be lost. As a next step, I will be pushing for a train station to be built at Ashton Gate Stadium to be served by the Portishead line services and connect the stadium, new homes and other developments in this area to the rest of the city. The Stadium is a hugely popular destination on match and concert days, so it’s really important there are more green options for accessing the ground to decrease the number of cars clogging up local residential streets.