New cycleway could foil rail link plans

01 November 2006

TRANSPORT campaigners in Portishead say plans to put a cycleway along former train tracks could threaten future plans to re-open the railway in the town.

North Somerset Council, in partnership with charity Sustrans, wants to divert a cyclepath so it runs close to the railway line at Marsh Lane and Portbury Dock Road.

Currently riders have to go across the road to rejoin the cyclepath and this move would see the route diverted under the railway bridges by the tracks.

But the move has been greeted with caution by railway campaigners who say any moves to introduce a cyclepath so close to the railway could mean future plans to run trains into Portishead could hit the buffers.

Portishead Railway Group chairman Alan Matthews said: "Apparently these plans to divert the cyclepath away from the road are being put forward as a temporary measure.

"But we are very concerned that these temporary things, in time, often become permanent.

"I have always been in favour of cycletracks as long as they do not interfere with railways or bridleways.

"I am concerned that this could become a permanent feature and could, in the future, affect the feasibility of re-opening the railway.

"There is no way cyclists and walkers can be using a railway track as a route."

North Somerset Council cycling officer Jonathan Gall said the move to divert the cyclepaths was not a permanent one and that they would be removed if the railway was to open.

Mr Gall said: "We are planning to consult with parish councils and Royal Portbury Dock representatives to ensure we have an alternative route for cyclists should the railway re-open.

"The cyclepaths would go alongside the tracks, but would not be a permanent fixture."

"If the railway link was to re-open then the land would revert back to its original use.

The issue of the cyclepaths will be raised at a meeting of Portishead and a North Weston Town Council next week.

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