Government-backed plans which could see more frequent local rail services between Bristol and Bath have taken a step forward.
Bath and North East Somerset Council is set to approve the expenditure of £188,000 of funding from the Department for Transport in order to produce the Business Case necessary to take forward the first phase of the MetroWest urban rail project.
Phase one of the project would see half-hourly train services on the Severn Beach and Bristol to Bath lines, as well as the opening of the long-discussed train station in Portishead, to be delivered by 2019.
In total, the MetroWest project, which is being promoted as a joint project between the four West of England authorities, would involve over £58 million of capital expenditure, to be financed from the Department for Transport’s Major Transport Scheme funding.
If it goes ahead, the project could ultimately see the reopening of stations such as Corsham and Saltford and track improvements on the network.
Local Conservatives have welcomed the announcement of funding, having helped initiate the MetroWest project when they previously ran the Council.
Conservative Transport Spokesman on B&NES, Cllr Anthony Clarke, said: “We welcome this commitment to the MetroWest project, which has the potential to finally deliver a proper urban rail service throughout the West of England area, including B&NES.
“This is an exciting project which could see more frequent trains calling at stations like Keynsham, Oldfield Park, and Bath Spa, as well as the opening of new stations in places like Corsham and Saltford.
‘So the allocation of this Government funding to help take the Business Case forward is very promising.
“It’s vitally important that B&NES fully commits to this project as it represents the chance to deliver a step-change in our local rail service.”