Tuesday 7 Feb 2023
Restoring Your Railway: contract signing brings Portishead to Bristol rail services a step closer
Commuters between Portishead and Bristol are a step closer to benefitting from a new rail link as the project to restore the disused railway through North Somerset reaches a new milestone.
Network Rail has appointed VolkerFitzpatrick as the primary contractor for the programme, which will see stations built in Pill and Portishead as part of the Government’s Restoring Your Railway scheme. The appointment of VolkerFitzpatrick follows the Department for Transport announcement of planning consent in November last year.
The £6.14m contract is part of the scheme to reopen the line, which is funded by the Government’s Restoring Your Railway fund, Department for Transport, West of England Combined Authority and North Somerset Council.
Once complete, the new passenger service will connect 50,000 residents to the railway network by reopening a line that was closed in 1964. The scheme is part of the MetroWest programme, which will bring suburban services to more stations across the west of England.
Over the next 12-18 months the project will complete the detailed design phase, as well as ground and ecology surveys and enabling works, while preparing the full business case for decision makers.
David Davidson, Network Rail’s interim Western route director, said: “We’re delighted to have awarded the contract for the restoration of the Portishead to Bristol line to VolkerFitzpatrick, reaching an important milestone for the reintroduction of passenger services.
“The railway line has been long awaited and we look forward to working with our partners to deliver this major scheme which will play a significant role in supporting sustainable travel in and around Bristol.”
Paul Lilley, operations director for VolkerFitzpatrick, said: “I am delighted that Network Rail has chosen to work with VolkerFitzpatrick to deliver this important project, including the new stations on this revitalised line. Our team is excited to be part of these plans to connect communities, create a better-connected transport network and support the region’s ambition to be net-zero carbon by 2030.”
Dan Norris, Mayor, the West of England, said: “This is another important milestone passed which further oils the wheels when it comes to re-opening the much-loved Bristol to Portishead line. This is a really important project that will see communities in south Bristol and across our city reconnected to Portishead and help keep us firmly on the right track when it comes to reaching our ambitious West of England net-zero-by-2030 target. I look forward to working with VolkerFitzpatrick as we begin the hard work of physically bringing this rail line back to life.”
Councillor Steve Bridger, leader of North Somerset Council and executive member for major projects, said: “This is another important step forward for the Portishead to Bristol rail line and we look forward to working with VolkerFitzpatrick as we deliver this vital project.
“The reopened line and stations at Portishead and Pill will reconnect 50,000 residents with the rail network, whilst unlocking opportunities for our communities to access regional growth, now and in the future.
“The line will also offer a sustainable alternative to the roads, giving residents more choice as to how they travel, helping us realise our ambition of net-zero carbon in North Somerset by 2030.”
A spokesperson for Great Western Railway said: “This is good news for Portishead, Bristol and the wider area and is a step forward to realise the MetroWest aspirations.
“This latest development will be welcomed by customers, and we look forward to continuing to work with the West of England Combined Authority on how we can help deliver their plans and meet their aspirations to improve sustainable local transport.”
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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.