What platform will Portishead people be standing on?
By Prue_Reid | Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 14:12
PORTISHEAD'S new railway station may have to be found a new site.
The Bristol to Portishead line
The spot originally proposed for a station where passengers would be able to board trains to Bristol for the first time in more than 50 years, is in Harbour Road. It was identified several years ago as part of the masterplan drawn up as part of the Portishead Quays development.
But North Somerset Council now says putting a station on the site land has raised a number of challenges and other locations for the station now need to be considered.
If a station was to go ahead at Harbour Road, it would mean a new road bridge would have to be built over Quays Avenue as new lines can no longer built with level crossings.
But building the bridge could cost up to £4 million and because of this a search for alternative sites has been undertaken, with two possible alternative locations shortlisted.
They are at Quays Avenue and on land at the edge of the town north of Moor Farm at Sheepway.
Plans including the original site and the two new alternatives have now gone out for consultation.
A council spokesman said: "While a site for the Portishead railway station was identified on Harbour Road as part of the Portishead Quays master planning, the delivery of a station at this location has a number of challenges and there is now a need to review the merits of this location and consider options for other locations.
"There is a wide range of factors that need to be considered in respect of identifying the best location for a railway station.
"These include the transport network, the environmental impact, the strategic land uses, both current and future use as set out, the council's core strategy and wider community considerations.
"Furthermore the site must also be able to meet technical specifications, accessibility regulations and safety requirements of rail industry and national legislation."
The current site at Harbour Road, which is 300 metres from the town centre, has provision for 100 car parking spaces.
The site at Quays Avenue, which is 700 metres from the town centre, has capacity for 200 parking spaces.
As part of the Quays Avenue plan, a footbridge would be built to the south of Trinity Primary School and the remaining length of redundant track to the town centre would be used to provide a new "gateway" pedestrian and cycle path.
A new crossing on Quays Avenue would be created to provide a through route between the station and a car park.
The third option to use land north of Moor Farm – more than a mile away from the town centre – has capacity for at least 200 parking spaces next to the proposed railway station.
But a new road link would have to be built as part of any scheme from Sheepway and council chiefs say this option would be more like a 'Parkway' station due to its edge of town location.
Local councillors say the new station needs to be in a central location in the town.
They say by moving it to the outskirts of Portishead would not solve the problem with congestion problems on the A369 and Portbury Hundreds – the main route out of the town.
Councillor Reyna Knight, who represents the town centre area, said: "I would much prefer the station to remain at Harbour Road as we need it to be as central as possible for people.
"Moving it to an out-of-town location would not solve the problems already encountered on the main A369 out of the town.
"However it seems as if the Harbour Road site proposals could be curtailed for financial reasons."
The Portishead rail line is scheduled to be opened in 2017 as part of the long-awaited plans to create the Greater Bristol Metro – re-opening existing track and old stations to ease congestion on the road network in the Bristol area.
The Department for Transport is expected to make an announcement on funding later this year.
A study in 2010 showed that travel time from Portishead would be 17 minutes compared to an hour by road during peak times.
People can give their feedback on the three sites as part of the planning document at the council's website, www.n-somerset.gov.uk.