Train line from Bristol to Portishead "to be re-opened by 2017"
The first phase of the long-awaited Greater Bristol Metro is expected to be opened in 2017, the region's transport leaders were told.
It will include the re-opening of the Portishead line to passenger services and half-hourly trains on the Severn Beach line.
Phase Two of the Metro, which will provide local train services in the Bristol area, is not likely to be completed until 2018/21.
It includes half-hourly services to Yate and provides new services on the Henbury line.
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It is not clear at this stage whether trains will stop at the re-opened Henbury Station and return the way they came or use the Henbury Loop - a new link to the Severn Beach line.
Rail campaigners argue that the loop is crucial to the success of the metro network.
But consultants have told a West of England Partnership meeting that trains stopping at Henbury would be more cost-effective than the loop option.
James White from the West of England office, told The Post they were likely to examine the business case for the loop and were not locked in to a spur (there and back again option).
Transport leaders who represent the four councils in the former Avon area agreed at their meeting yesterday to go ahead with £7 million preparatory works on the Metro scheme.
But their decision will have to be endorsed by their respective councils.
The works include sorting out land deals, legal agreements and specialised paperwork and studies before work on the ground can actually start.
Another reason for optimism that the Metro will actually go ahead is that South Gloucestershire and Bristol City councils are both appointing rail officers to manage Phase One of the project. North Somerset Council is appointing a project manager to lead on the Portishead scheme.
Bristol Mayor George Ferguson made a plea for the Portishead line to include the re-opening of the station at Ashton Gate.
He said there was a "really good case" for it to be used again.