Re-opening is now planned as a key part (Phase 1B) of the MetroWest project which will link and upgrade the railway system in the Bristol area. Providing an initial frequency service to Portishead (1 train per hour with 2 in peak times)
The project is considered to be a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, so requires a Development Consent Order (DCO) so as to attain the planning powers to build and operate the project.
On 8 April 2019 it was announced that the funding gap of £31.9M has been closed. All of the funding necessary is now in place.
The DCO was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 15 November 2019. This was a major milestone.
The DCO was accepted by the Planning Inspectorate to proceed to examination on 12 December 2019.
Covid-19 has caused an inevitable delay to the DCO examination process of about 4 months. Start of services was expected by Dec 2023 but will now be sometime in 2024.
The DCO Pre-examination stage (stage 3 of 6) was completed in October 2020.
The DCO main Examination stage was completed on 19 April 2021 (stage 4 of 6) and is now in the 3-month Stage 5 (Recommendation and Decision) at the end of which the Planning Inspectorate reports to the Secretary of State.