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Bristol eyes up £4bn underground metro system


Bristol is exploring the possibility of constructing a new underground metro rail system.

The multi-billion pound metro line would run in three directions under the most congested parts of the city, as reported by New Civil Engineer’s sister publication Local Government Chronicle.

draft document outlining Bristol’s transport strategy said lightweight underground systems, such as those already operating in France and Italy, as well as other countries, are being considering in conjunction with officers at the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

“While an underground system is technically deliverable, the costs are significant, at around £3-4bn needed for three lines. The planning horizon for underground schemes is also long, with most schemes taking around 20 years to deliver,” the document said.

“A key part of ongoing feasibility work will be exploring how future trends could impact on the feasibility of such a system. Initial feasibility work is currently underway to explore underground options in more detail, exploring construction and operation costs, ground conditions, patronage forecasts, future trends, and other considerations.”

More detailed plans and costings for the city’s proposed metro system will be released in the combined authority’s joint transport plan 2036, due for publication in October.

The metro forms a part of wider transport proposals which together currently face a funding gap of £10bn, which could be funded through additional taxation, according to a report put before Bristol City Council’s growth and regeneration scrutiny commission last week. The report suggested launching a public consultation on the viability of a congestion charge, a workplace parking levy, business rate supplements and council tax precepts as possible means of funding.

Key to the new metro plan is the proposal of opening new rail stations at Constable Road, Ashton Gate, St Annes, Portway, Filton North, and Henbury. The joint transport plan 2036 will also examine whether to open new park and ride options to help reduce congestion on the city’s roads.

The GPS guidance company TomTom found Bristol to be the ninth most congested town in the United Kingdom in its 2018 Traffic Index report, with drivers spending an extra 148 hours on the roads per year, due to traffic.

WECA voted on 1 June to approve £100,000 of revenue funding from its investment fund to “support the development of feasibility studies for future suburban rail plans”.

Bristol City Council is currently investing £800m up to 2020, alongside WECA, on the city’s bus, cycle and rail network, according to its latest transport strategy report.

Earlier this month there were warnings that plans to create a £1.5bn - £1.7bn metro system with a tunnel linking Cambridge and its surrounding areas could face an 18 year delay

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