A Bristol MP has backed calls for to expand local rail services in the city, as a £100million bid for government cash is made.
Charlotte Leslie collared transport minister Justine Greening on Friday to urge her backing for the scheme to re-open stations and get commuters out of their cars and on to trains.
The Bristol North West MP’s call comes after campaigners made their bid last week, while final details and specifications of the new regional service franchise will be drafted by the Department of Transport in the coming weeks, which will shape railway provision for the region for the next 15 years.
If it is successful one of the first schemes to get the go-ahead would be the long-awaited reopening of the Bristol to Portishead rail line.
There would also be cash available for the Henbury Loop in the north of Bristol, improvements to Bedminster station and new stations at Saltford, Horfield, Ashley Down and Ashton Gate. There would also be improvements in services to South Gloucestershire and on the Severn Beach route.
Speaking after the visit, Ms Leslie said: “This was a very timely visit. With Bristol about to agree its ‘City Deal’, which could involve exciting new powers over local rail, and with the Great Western Franchise agreement due to be decided this year, it was a great opportunity to not only talk about, but demonstrate just how crucial transport is to the city – particularly a Bristol Metro, with a re-opened Henbury Station and Henbury Loop line.
“I have been saying for years that our roads simply will not be able to cope with the increasing traffic in Bristol, especially with significant developments in the north of the city. Resurrecting our dormant railways and opening up stations like Henbury will be a game-changer in Bristol’s public transport. I will be continuing to make the case.
“I agree with campaigners that the creation of frequent and reliable services covering as much of the greater Bristol area as possible is vital.
“The only way to get more people onto the railway and out of the car is to ensure that communities are well served by a rail service which connects all parts of the city. Currently we have too many communities which are simply not part of the network.”
Ms Greening was in Bristol on Friday on a day-long tour, during which she opened the first stage of Bristol Airport’s expansion.
Regional airports such as Bristol are essential for the UK’s economy and business success, she said as she officially opened three new aircraft stands at the airport – the first of more than 30 projects worth around £150m which will enable growth over the next decade.