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Author Topic: Portishead Line reopening for passengers - ongoing discussion  (Read 378419 times)
grahame
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« Reply #1050 on: October 16, 2023, 09:53:51 »

Not good news about this new line, they have now decided they need to do a new business case to see if the line will pay if re opened as the previous one was done before covid so they want to see if it's now changed,

They hope to have the new full business case submitted by march 2024 with hopefully approval of this by summer 2024 September at the latest ,

So we are now potentially a year away from them starting the building work on the new line,

How much will costs have risen in that time?

Can't help feeling there's a case for using JFDI (just flipping do it (polite version)) principles here.
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johnneyw
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« Reply #1051 on: October 16, 2023, 12:54:08 »

The March 2024 submission date for the new business case does seem a long time to me.  I only had limited exposure to the world of business case writing during my years in the telecoms, motor and insurance industries but I can't help but feel that all those companies that I worked for could and would have moved faster, especially with the expectation that one would be requested.
Was there not an earlier business case made that could act as a framework?  Not all of the details would have changed..... there's still a huge traffic problem in Portishead for example.
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« Reply #1052 on: October 16, 2023, 12:57:38 »

The March 2024 submission date for the new business case does seem a long time to me.  I only had limited exposure to the world of business case writing during my years in the telecoms, motor and insurance industries but I can't help but feel that all those companies that I worked for could and would have moved faster, especially with the expectation that one would be requested.
Was there not an earlier business case made that could act as a framework?  Not all of the details would have changed..... there's still a huge traffic problem in Portishead for example.

Depends if the objective is to get the project appraised quickly and successfully, or to generate consultant's fees quickly and successfully
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« Reply #1053 on: October 16, 2023, 17:49:15 »

FFS (for goodness' sake (a more polite definition))

1) Portishead has nigh on 30k people, many of them fairly well heeled
2) Portishead has one very wiggly road to Bristol
3) The railway goes right next to the M5 and is more or less ideal for a rail-based Park & Ride (the car parks are there already, just got to build the station)
4) Pill also has one very wiggly road to Bristol and plenty of well-heeled folk
5) Pill has a secondary school with 1000 kids, many of which come from Bristol and would probably happily take the train over the bus
6) Ashton Gate on it's own could doubtlessly support a half-hourly service between UWE, Ashton Park school, the stadium, offices and all the new housing

Job done, JFDI (just flipping do it (polite version)), my consultants fee can go behind the bar at the Coffee Shop Christmas party
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« Reply #1054 on: October 16, 2023, 18:44:12 »

I see there's a lot of nostalgia for the era when a navvy with a shovel was all the business case anyone needed to build a railway. But the world has moved on, even if this project hasn't.

I couldn't say whether the Portishead Line needs a new business case - but it hasn't exactly suffered from business case deprivation. There was a preliminary business case in 2014 - not just on the back of an envelope: 800 pages. Then in 2017 there was an outline business case - a little longer. Each of those comes (like Gaul) in three parts. Part one of the latter calls itself "Outline Business Case 2017, Part 1 of 3,  Addendum to Outline Business Case. All six parts are dated on their cover November 2019, and also bear their original dates. I can't see any newer ones, you would not expect any during the examination period as that's not the sort of exam question the "Examining Authority" asks.

All the covers are MetroWest ones, though I can't see anything explaining why - the "applicant" is always North Somerset Council. I guess that comes down to what kind of a beast MetroWest is. Or maybe it really is, as Google insists, "a cluster of cities and towns lying west of Boston and east of Worcester".
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« Reply #1055 on: October 16, 2023, 18:46:58 »

If you look at the covers of the two earlier business cases (filed under Developer's Application / Other Documents by the PI), they refer to the requirement for one at the DCO (Driver Controlled Operation) enquiry stage. This is is the National Policy Statement for National Networks (itself required by Section 9(8) and Section 5(4) of the Planning Act 2008). Here is section 4.5:
Quote
Applications for road and rail projects (with the exception of those for SRFIs, for which the position is covered in paragraph 4.8 below) will normally be supported by a business case prepared in accordance with Treasury Green Book principles. This business case provides the basis for investment decisions on road and rail projects. The business case will normally be developed based on the Department’s Transport Business Case guidance and WebTAG guidance. The economic case prepared for a transport business case will assess the economic, environmental and social impacts of a development. The information provided will be proportionate to the development. This information will be important for the Examining Authority and the Secretary of State’s consideration of the adverse impacts and benefits of a proposed development. It is expected that NSIP schemes brought forward through the development consent order process by virtue of Section 35 of the Planning Act 2008, should also meet this requirement.

Note that bit I bolded - easier said than done, if you are told to write one.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #1056 on: October 16, 2023, 19:19:31 »

The latest statement on the travelwest website reads as follows:

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Oct 2023

A significant number of the ecology enabling works are now coming to an end for this season, with the next phase now being planned for. The works have been very successful, and those completed so far include:

o Multiple ecological licence applications have been granted and works carried out under their respective licence conditions to protect Great Crested Newts, badgers, and the propagation of Bristol Rock Cress​
o Tree planting on the A369 Portbury Hundred to provide an alternative bat corridor has been completed and a maintenance plan is in place to ensure they are fed and watered, which will continue over the coming months​
o 1,200 metres of reptile fencing has been installed at multiple locations along the disused line and in the Ecology Park at Portishead​
o Reptile trapping is now complete with ecologists visiting the 1,000+ reptile mats daily over the summer and safely moving them to the two translocation sites away from the line​
o Reptile displacement also has to occur in certain locations which involves gradually reducing the length of the vegetation to encourage them away from the line to more suitable habitat​s
o Several bird and bat boxes have been installed to provide alternative nesting locations and roosts whilst work is underway
o The annual harvesting of whitebeam fruits from the Avon Gorge occurred in October and are being propagated at Bristol Botanicals, ready to plant during construction. This year the focus was on the rarest variety the sorbus avonensis. Over 100 whitebeams have already been planted in Leigh Woods with the help of Forestry England and are thriving.

Detailed design – otherwise known as Network Rail’s GRIP (Guide to Railway Investment Projects) stage 5 – has progressed significantly. The project team continue to assist the contractors with this work stream, and we’d like to thank all those landowners and tenants who have allowed the teams access for noise surveys, ground investigations works, soil sampling, and other necessary works.
Source: travelwest
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« Reply #1057 on: October 17, 2023, 08:30:00 »

Bristol rock cress is a new one for me!
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« Reply #1058 on: January 10, 2024, 17:22:48 »

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North Somerset Council to agree authority to finalise Full Business Case for Portishead rail line
8:44am - 08 January 2024

At January’s Full Council meeting, members will decide on proposals for the Full Business Case currently being developed for the Portishead to Bristol rail line. The line, one of the Department for Transport’s Restoring Your Railway projects, is part of the MetroWest programme.

The proposals would give Councillor Mike Bell, Leader of the Council and Executive Member for Major Infrastructure Projects, authority to finalise a completed Full Business Case on behalf of North Somerset Council, ready for its submission to the Department for Transport (DfT» (Department for Transport - about)). Submission of the Full Business Case is expected to take place at the end of February.

This follows months of detailed design which has been underway since securing the Development Consent Order (DCO (Driver Controlled Operation)) to build the line, along with additional funding to help tackle inflation and rising costs across the construction industry.

Councillor Mike Bell, Leader of North Somerset Council and Executive Member for Major Infrastructure Projects, said: “By connecting 50,000 residents back into the rail network, the Portishead to Bristol line stands to be transformative for both North Somerset and the region.

“Not only would it provide better connections for Portishead and Pill, but it would offer green alternatives to getting around, cutting road traffic with expected train journeys of just 23 minutes.

“Submission of the Full Business Case is an impressive feat and the result of years of hard work and effort. In delegating authority to finalise the business case, the Council can play its part in achieving a February submission to the DfT.

“We’d like to thank our partners at West of England Combined Authority and Network Rail for their role in preparing the Full Business Case to date. We look forward to continuing work together as the project progresses.”

Should the Full Business Case be approved by the DfT, Portishead line will be brought back to Full Council in summer 2024 to agree the release of funding set aside for the scheme by North Somerset Council. This would be in addition to funding approved by the DfT, as set out in the Full Business Case.

For more about the Portishead line, visit https://travelwest.info/projects/portishead-rail-line-metrowest-phase-1/

Source: North Somerset Council
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« Reply #1059 on: January 12, 2024, 21:46:19 »

Spades in the ground by August?  The Bristol Live site has an article suggesting work on the line could commence by August this year. 
Expectation management statement;  It's from Bristol Live.  Much of it's substance is taken from the North Somerset Council statement in the previous post and there's no specific attribution as to who gave the August date.
Oh and unsurprisingly, the loading ads make it nearly unreadable.  I did find the "illustration" comical though.

https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/local-news/construction-could-start-new-portishead-9030389?int_source=amp_continue_reading&int_medium=amp&int_campaign=continue_reading_button#amp-readmore-target
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #1060 on: January 13, 2024, 00:49:13 »

The illustration is Pill, rather than Portishead.
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« Reply #1061 on: January 13, 2024, 07:40:37 »

Spades in the ground by August?  The Bristol Live site has an article suggesting work on the line could commence by August this year.  Expectation management statement; ...

Expectation management is well noted. We have become so used to seeing hopeful timescales that don't happen that we automatically roll our eyes, say "that won't happen", and are proven right. Just occasionally though, things actually happen and when they do they can move quickly.  Thinking Okehampton, thinking the restoration of usable TransWilts service 10 years ago.  "Haha" turned into "my goodness - it's actually happening".
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« Reply #1062 on: January 31, 2024, 11:11:28 »

A couple of us from Bristol Rail Campaign (FoSBR» (Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways - site)) attended the AGM (Annual General Meeting) of Portishead Railway Group last evening. We were very grateful for their invitation to come and observe, and it was a privilege (and a bit humbling) to chat with some of the people who have been campaigning for decades to get trains back to Portishead and Pill.

James Willcock of North Somerset Council, Programme Manager for the Portishead line, gave us a very detailed talk on the current status of the project. The upshot is that the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) will do its best to get all the paperwork signed off before the summer recess. Then it's just - just! - a matter of getting the Treasury to release the money... which should allow for final approval in time for work to start later this year.

First train to Portishead should run in December 2026.

James believed that transport Secretary Mark Harper was very impressed by the scheme when he visited last summer, which may have helped oil the wheels.

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« Reply #1063 on: January 31, 2024, 18:09:14 »

So approval just before the November election is announced.  How convenient.
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« Reply #1064 on: January 31, 2024, 22:25:05 »

So approval just before the November election is announced.  How convenient.

That's one pre-election bribe I will happily take. I don't have to vote for them, though.
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