Plans for Bristol Metro rail system move closer
PLANS for a Bristol Metro rail system have moved a step closer as the city council's cabinet agreed to put up funding.
Almost £1.8 million of investment was approved by mayor George Ferguson to prepare for work on reopening lines and stations in 2015.
The rest of the project will be funded by central government and it is estimated it will take up until 2023 to complete in its entirety.
However, Phase One – including half-hourly trains to Severn Beach and the reopening of the Portishead line – could be completed by 2017/18.
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Reopening the Henbury line and additional stations at Horfield and Ashley Down is expected to be completed in Phase Two.
The money will be set aside from the council's revenue and capital budgets up until 2016/17.
The agreement for the funds – which will go before a full meeting of the council for final approval – will mean central government capital can be released in 2015.
But proposals for the Metro must be at a "sufficiently advanced stage" before the Government hands over the money.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting last night, local transport campaigner David Redgewell thanked the mayor and cabinet for their work on the project.
He said: "On behalf of the group I would like to say we are happy with the work you have done."
Mr Ferguson added that the approval was a "huge leap" for the Bristol Metro.
He said: "It's making use of current infrastructure and even improving it in places.
"I hope over the next ten or 15 years we will have a new integrated approach and perhaps even an integrated transport authority."
The total of £1.8 million of council funding is broken down into an estimated £559,000 from rolling revenue budgets and £1.24 million part funded by the Investing in Bristol fund and local transport capital funds.
Earlier in the day it was announced that the Bristol area is in line to get more than £81 million to spend on major transport schemes.
The West of England City Deal region, which includes the city, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and B&NES – will be able to spend the cash on upgrading roads and other projects after 2015.
Transport minister Norman Baker announced the cash as the Government prepared to devolve decision-making to Local Transport Bodies such as the West of England Partnership.
From 2015 each LTB will be allocated funding according to the number of people living within its boundaries.