Official unveiling of new name for Metro scheme
By The Bristol Post | Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 05:00
POLITICIANS fighting to improve rail links in the Bristol area have officially unveiled the new name for their proposed scheme.
Councillors Elfan Ap Rees, Brian Allinson and Nigel Ashton from North Somerset and South Gloucestershire launch the new MetroWest name
The Bristol Metro system has undergone a facelift and will now be known as MetroWest.
The name change, first revealed by the Bristol Post last week, is a deliberate attempt to shift the focus of the scheme on to a wider area than Bristol alone.
Planned changes to the rail system in and around Bristol include an increase in the number of lines between Temple Meads and Filton, the re-opening of the Portishead line and the creation of at least three new stations.
But those backing the £120 million project want to widen out their plans and include neighbouring counties such as Wiltshire and Somerset.
The £5 billion plans to electrify the line between Bristol and London are expected to lead to increase in rail passengers over the next decade.
There are also hopes that the new rail network will connect up to the city's planned Metrobus system.
And a major refurbishment of Temple Meads station is also being planned, along with a new transport hub which will connect the rail and bus rapid transit systems together.
Members of the West of England Joint Transport Executive, which includes Bristol and neighbouring local authorities, unveiled the new name yesterday on a stretch of disused track on the old Portishead line.
In a statement they said: "Metro West reflects the links between the developing local rail network and the MetroBus rapid transit network.
"It better reflects the future area of the rail improvements, as we plan further ahead and look at developing frequent local services between neighbouring areas."
The decision came after councillors from Wiltshire met with the transport executive. There are now plans to invite representatives from other nearby authorities to meetings.
The aim is to ensure possible rail links and connections can be included in the early planning stage.
More than £1 million has already been spent on preparation work for reopening the Portishead line, which will cost up to £55 million to reopen, by 2019.
Work is also being carried out with Network Rail on the development of the a business case for the Metro and a new timetable for rail services.
The business case will be completed by next March so it can be presented to Network Rail.
The joint transport executive committee members said: "MetroWest is one part of our overall jigsaw of transport investment but we have to work according to the rail industry requirements, as much as we would want to go faster.
"It is also necessary to focus our minds on specific targets in order to make sure we succeed. Our current focus is on achieving four tracking at Filton and reopening the Portishead connection.
"Once we are confident we have the go ahead and funding for these we can look at what is next."