Rail planners discuss increased services for Bristol area

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Increasing rail services for Bristol and the reopening of the Portishead-to-Bristol Temple Meads line to passengers have been discussed.

Rail industry bosses have met to debate plans for revitalisation of suburban train travel.

Delegates were also asked to consider whether electrifying the Severn Beach line was more important than reopening the Thornbury branch line.

They then took a tour to explore the local railway network.

Local councillors and campaigners had invited members of Network Rail and the Department for Transport to board the one-off passenger train to see the potential of improvements for what could be achieved in and and around the city.

The meeting was also told Network Rail is considering putting in new tracks between Bristol Temple Meads and Filton Abbey Wood, which would allow more trains to use the line, which goes to Bristol Parkway.

'High priority'

Earlier this week, a bid for £43m to reopen a railway link between Bristol and Portishead was rejected by the government.

North Somerset Council applied for the money from the Regional Growth Fund to begin passenger services on the line, which was closed in 1964.

The authority said it was "disappointed" but added reopening the route was still a "high priority".

"Work will continue on pursuing all options for funding this important transport scheme," a statement said.

Part of the railway line into Bristol - from Portbury - was reopened to freight in 2002 but the rest of the route is still disused.

A study in 2010 showed travel time from Portishead would be 17 minutes, compared to an hour by road during rush hour.

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