New Rail Link Hope
by John Warren - Evening Post
fighting to reinstate a rail link between
Alison Forster, First Great Western's managing director, said yesterday that, although the company was not suggesting the line will be reinstated, it should not be dismissed before it is properly costed.
John Rickard, secretary of the Portishead Railway Action Group, said: "It sounds very promising although the Strategic Rail Authority, through the Government department, has said that it doesn't support proposals to reinstate the line in the immediate future. If it's just down to money and First. is prepared to put up the finance, then reinstatement may be possible, but it does seem to go against what was said by the SRA and Government. It raises a number of questions and it will be interesting to see what happens.”
The rail operator is one of three companies bidding for the new Greater Western rail franchise, which will bring all train services in the region under the control of a single company.
Ms Forster made the pledge on Portishead
at a briefing held by the company at the Marriott Royal Hotel in
Ms Forster was responding to
questions from Councillor Peter Crispin, chairman of
the Bristol Transport Forum. He suggested much more could be made of the city's
urban rail network, which he said was under-utilised in some areas while
overcrowded in others, calling for increased investment. He said:
"The thing that concerns us about the new franchise is the impact it will
have on the local service. The biggest problem we have is how to get people
from the surrounding urban area into
Ms Forster later added: 'I don't know how much it is going to cost to reinstate the line. "If it's going to be £100 million then we have no chance but if it was £10 million it would be something we could look at."
Her comments contradict those
made by Transport Minister Charlotte Atkins who said in January this year that
she believed it was unlikely a. train service would be
reinstated on the line "in the foreseeable future". She argued
it would cost between £5 million and £7.5 million to upgrade the three and a half
miles of track needed to run trains between
National Express and Stagecoach are the other companies which will be invited to tender for the Greater Western rail franchise in June.