Get back on Track call


North Somerset Times – April 6 2005


CAMPAIGNERS fighting to get a rundown railway line from Bristol to Portishead reopened banded together for a bank holiday protest.


Members of the Portishead Heritage Rail Project (PHRP) organised the demonstration to meet a special steam train, which ran from Bristol to Portbury on Easter Monday.


Gloucestershire based Pathfinder Tours ran the excursion on an old Great Western steam train from Bristol, along the former Portishead branch line to Portbury ‑ a route usually only open to freight.


The protestors waved banners which said 'Portishead This Way' in a bid to raise awareness of the need for refurbishment of the disused tracks, which continue from Portbury into Portishead.


PHRP was joined by members of the Portishead Railway Action Group (PRAG) and chairman of the town council Jean Lord.


PHRP chairman, Reverend Alan Taylor, said: "It was won­derful to see so many people turn out on a bank holiday for this protest. "The Heritage Rail Project was set up last year to raise awareness of the need for this railway line to be reopened to serve an ever expanding Portishead."


Cllr Lord said: "There are a number of people in Portishead who cannot drive, either because they have never learnt,

or because they are now too elderly. With the cars which are on the road there is only so much junction 19 can take as com­muters travel in and out of Bristol, and it is only going to get worse with more houses built in Portishead. We need this railway line reopened."


Carl Heidelmeyer has to commute to his job outside Portishead. He said: "I have to leave at 7.15am each morning to miss the traffic. "If I could I would use the train instead, but it would have to be a timetable of less than half an hour journey's time to be practical.


"If there was a reliable service, families would have the choice not to have so many cars."


Christine Heidelmeyer, who lives at Nore Road, is a member of PRAG. She said: "As a group we are fighting to get the railway line reopened. We support the PHRP and it supports us. I don't drive so I go everywhere on public transport. Portishead desperately needs a railway line."