Anger as Mayor Stalls Portway Rail Station Plans

A new rail station at the Portway park-and-ride site at Avonmouth has been held up - because Bristol's elected Mayor has done nothing about it in his 17 months in power.

Bristol Liberal Democrats are demanding to know why a scheme which at that time was just a year away from completion has effectively been shunted into the sidings.

The party ran the city council until George Ferguson was elected Mayor in November 2012.

"We had already found the funds for the new rail platform and were close to submitting detailed plans when Mr Ferguson took power," said Lib Dem deputy leader and Clifton East councillor Christian Martin.

Councillor Martin, who is the group's transport spokesman, said: "Plans were on track for the trains stop to begin operating last July. The idea was to allow commuters and shoppers from the fringes of the city and beyond to get into Bristol quickly by train. It was expected that around 400 commuters a day would benefit.

"The station would have been on the Severn Beach line, providing access to Temple Meads and stations in between, such as Clifton Down and Redland.

Stephen Williams, Bristol West MP said "I'm surprised Mayor Ferguson has done nothing to progress this scheme because, apart from anything else, it might have eased parking pressures on areas such as Clifton village, where the Mayor's Residents' Parking Scheme proposals remain controversial."

A few years ago, the Portway platform project was threatened by steep costs. But these tumbled when it was decided to use a steel framed kit-style scheme instead of traditional materials.

"In the end, it was only going to cost about £750,000, most if not all of which we had earmarked for the new platform before the 2012 mayoral election. Since then, I'm shocked to discover, nothing has happened," said Councillor Martin.

"Another objective of the scheme to create a new station at Portway was to prove that the broader MetroWest cross-Bristol rail project really could work.

"Again, Mr Ferguson has missed an important opportunity to show that he really can bat for Bristol with government ministers and Network Rail and show that he understands transport needs here in Bristol.

"If he doesn't get the infrastructure right and in place in a timely manner we will see businesses desert the city and the consequences of that are too significant to ignore."