Meeting backs £43.3m Portishead to Bristol rail link

M5 motorway near Bristol
Image caption The four councils will continue to meet over transport issues in the area

Transport leaders from councils around Bristol have met despite plans for a partnership board to be closed down.

The West of England Partnership is to be shut with some roles taken over by a Local Enterprise Partnership.

At a meeting in Weston-super-Mare the group decided to put forward a bid for £43.3m of government cash to reopen the Portishead to Bristol railway line.

Plans were also announced for a rail summit in the autumn as part of a drive to tackle rail issues across the West.

An Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) could give councils greater power over buses and railways and the power to set fares was also discussed.

Network Rail said it would also be looking at doubling the number of tracks between Parson Street, in Bedminster, Bristol, and Temple Meads railway station.

'Key priority'

Commenting on the proposed Portishead to Bristol railway line, a North Somerset Council spokesman said morning rush hour journey times were typically 45 minutes but claim it would take just 17 minutes by rail.

If funding and planning issues are solved the council believes a realistic opening date for the line would be by 2017.

Councillor John Calway, who chairs the partnership, said the councils would continue to meet and bid for projects such as new bus routes.

"Transport remains a key priority for both residents and businesses in the West of England," said Mr Calway, the leader of South Gloucestershire Council.

"In recognition of this, the hugely successful West of England Joint Transport Executive Committee will continue in its current form."

The partnership was formed by Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils in 2003 and could be closed by the autumn.

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