Bristol

Portishead rail line revamp to exceed £58m budget

View along the disused Portishead railway line
Image caption Reopening the Portishead line is part of the MetroWest Phase 1 project

A £58m project to restore a disused railway line will cost "considerably" more than originally planned, a report has found.

The Portishead branch line shut in 1964 and is due to reopen in 2020.

The £100m scheme by the West of England Partnership and Network Rail will link the town with Bristol Temple Meads and the Severn Beach Line.

But a report by the partnership has warned the cost of the MetroWest Phase 1 project will surpass its budget.

It cited losing two level crossings on the route and engineering works through the Avon Gorge and South Bristol will "considerably" increase the estimated costs.

The rail firm has not yet revealed details of further costs involved but will do so when it publishes its own report in March.

'Utterly ridiculous obstacles'

Discussions are under way with Network Rail and the Department for Transport on "how additional funding can be identified", the report said.

Elfan Ap Rees, deputy leader of North Somerset Council, accused Network Rail of putting up "utterly ridiculous obstacles".

"We've got freight trains using that particular line every day," he said.

"We're talking about five kilometres of new track laid over where there was a railway line before."

Network Rail said it had worked "very closely" with the partnership to undertake "a detailed engineering study to determine the extent of works and associated costs".

"We are now nearing the completion of that study and will be presenting the details of the various options and costs to the West of England Transport Partnership in March this year to enable them to determine the best way forward, " it added.

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