The line from Bristol to Royal Portbury Docks is in use as a freight line, leaving 3.2 miles of disused track to be reinstated, and the whole route needs to be uprated to accept passenger traffic.
New railway investment projects have to be managed through Network Rail’s GRIP process (Governance for Railway Investment Projects). There are 8 stages in GRIP, and construction will start at GRIP stage 6.
GRIP 3 (Option selection) for the Portishead line was originally completed in October 2010, but the GRIP process had to be restarted when the project became part of MetroWest (see below).
Three options for the Portishead terminus station site were considered by North Somerset Council in 2014. Details ...
MetroWest Phase 1 Preliminary Business Case was completed showing that the project is viable. See News 9 Sept 2014 and 23 October 2014.
MetroWest Phase 1 is classed as a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’ and consequently requires a Development Consent Order (DCO) which is a 6 stage planning process which will run in parallel with other technical processes. Stage 1 of the DCO process is under way and is scheduled to be completed when the DCO planning application is submitted.
Stage 1 Public Consultation on the project took place in June - August 2015. MetroWest published a Newsletterabout the consultation in January 2016. A 185 page report was published on 23 Dec 2015 by MetroWest. Further (stage 2) consultation followed (see below).
The originally estimated £100 million funding was in place for MetroWest Phase 1 and 2. (Costs are now much higher. See News March 2017).
Public consultations took place in February/March 2016 for Pill Station and Ashton Vale Road level crossings. Report published June 2016. Further consultation on Ashton Vale Road crossing took place in Nov/Dec 2016. Details …
In Nov 2017 the Dept for Transport published a Strategic vision for rail (44 page PDF) including proposals that rail services lost under 1960s Beeching cuts may reopen. The Portishead line is mentioned on page 25.
A Stage 2 Public Consultation on the project to re-open the Portishead line ran from 23 October to 4 December 2017. Over 1000 responses were made. A report on the consultation was published in July 2018.
The revised cost of the Portishead line project is now £116.4 million, of which £69.5M is secured leaving a funding gap of £46.9M. But see Feb 2019 below.
In October 2018 Chris Grayling, Sec. of State for Transport, and Metro mayor Tim Bowles, proposed the use of Tram-Trains as a way of reducing costs. PRG believes that this is completely impractical and would actually cost much more. PRG statement>>
On 4 Dec 2018 North Somerset Council’s executive approved a further £1.4m towards the next stage in the reopening of the Portishead to Bristol rail line. The funding will be used to complete all detailed documentation for the submission of a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Government (in June 2019).
In February 2019 North Somerset Council agreed to allocate up to an extra £15M of regional funding from the Economic Development Fund, reducing the funding gap to £31M. See News 20 Feb 2019.