Bristol

Bath park and rail idea welcomed in government statement

Steve Bradley and Nick Clegg at Bathampton Image copyright Other
Image caption Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bath Steve Bradley took Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to Bathampton to show him where the park and rail scheme would go

A strategy that could see a new park and rail service built near Bath has been welcomed by the government.

The proposal, dubbed Bathampton Parkway, would offer a four-minute service into Bath four times an hour.

In its National Infrastructure Plan, the government said it would consider the business case being put together by Bath and North East Somerset Council.

Council leader Paul Crossley said the announcement "allows us to move to the next level with this project".

"There will, of course, be full public consultation," the Liberal Democrat added.

Steve Bradley, the Liberal Democrat bidding to succeed Don Foster as Bath's MP, took Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to Bathampton last week.

'Congestion and pollution'

Mr Bradley said the hope was for government funding to be announced in the spring budget and for enabling works to be carried out while the line at Bath was closed for it to be electrified.

He said a station needed to be created, a "hidden" car park built, and an access road developed through a hole that would be punched under the railway line.

"For decades Bath's roads have been plagued by congestion and pollution, and the council's newly adopted Transport Strategy aims to stop that," he said.

"After months of lobbying by myself and council colleagues, the government has accepted that Bath needs support to tackle its congestion problems."

But Conservative councillor Anthony Clarke said: "What this city cannot afford to do is wait 10 or 15 years, if that's when the money is readily available. There is nothing in the announcement to suggest it is [available].

"We must not use the announcement to stop moving ahead with getting a new [park and ride] scheme in place, even if it turns out to be a temporary scheme."

The government's National Infrastructure Plan stated: "The government welcomes the strategy put forward by Bath & North East Somerset Council and the West of England LEP to improve transport capacity East of Bath and reduce city centre congestion.

"The government will consider a business case, which will be developed by Bath & North East Somerset Council, that assesses the viability of proposals including a park and ride, as well as a park and rail service, located to the East of Bath."

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