£100,000 boost for bid to revive railway station
HOPES of re-opening Saltford's railway station have taken a giant leap forward.
Cabinet councillors in Bath & North East Somerset last night agreed to spend £100,000 on developing a business case for bringing the station back into use.
It was closed in 1970 but a campaign group in the village has been pushing for more than a year to get it re-opened.
Cabinet councillor Roger Symonds who is responsible for transport, said he wholeheartedly welcomed the plans and wanted to offer his full support.
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Mr Symonds said: "I'm delighted with this proposal, I'm delighted that we have this great community group, that has done all this work in Saltford.
"If anybody believes that this is not going to be of benefit to the whole of the Saltford community, their reasoning is wrong."
The Saltford Station Campaign Group believes if the station was reopened it would be well used by the local community.
They have already managed to collect more than 2,000 signatures on a petition which they presented to the cabinet at the Guildhall last night.
Duncan Hounsell, from the campaign group, spoke at the meeting and thanked councillors for their support.
Speaking afterwards, he said: "It is brilliant - I think this is a historic day for the station.
"It is a hot topic in the village at the moment - it is something everybody is aware of and there is great enthusiasm for it."
Since the station closed, the platforms and station buildings have been removed.
The site has not been redeveloped but used for a range of building and storage purposes.
The West of England Partnership, a body which represents the four councils in the former Avon area, believes that an extra station could be provided between Bristol and Bath as part of the Greater Bristol Metro project, which aims to provide half-hourly services across the region.
The council recently commissioned consultants to undertake a study into the chances of re-opening the station.
They said it could attract some 200 new rail passengers each day but the station's use might be hampered by the size of the car park.
They estimated that the cost of building a new station could be about £5.5 million and running costs would be between £35,000 and £140,000 a year.
If the business case can be proved, then a further £150,000 to £200,000 would be needed for the detailed design work.
The campaigners believe that the new 15-year rail franchise being considered by the government provides an ideal opportunity to build a new station. They would like to see the new station included in the franchise as a priced option, which means funding would be needed to pay for the construction costs and train services using it.
The campaign group says the funding could come from a range of sources, such as track company Network Rail, a train operator or the West of England Partnership.