Lack of options cited as rail travel declines in North Somerset

PUBLISHED: 15:00 11 May 2014

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THE number of people using trains to get around North Somerset has dropped as prices rise across the board, according to new statistics.

In total, around 33,000 fewer journeys were made in 2013 within the local authority area than in 2012, only the second time the number has dropped since 1998.

Although journeys to and from other areas of the South West went up slightly, the overall number of passengers using trains in North Somerset fell by 28,000.

Ticket prices rose by an average of 4.3 per cent nationally in 2013 but, although local numbers fell, the number of journeys taken nationally increased by almost one million.

Plans are already well advanced to increase the number of stations within the authority area, with the disused Portishead line set to re-open in 2018 or 2019 as part of a long-term MetroWest transport plan.

Alan Matthews, chairman of the Portishead Railway Group, said: “If you are living in North Somerset, apart from going to Yatton and Nailsea you can’t really get around anywhere without going to Bristol, because so few places are served by the railway lines here.

“North Somerset Council has cleared the line and the funding is there. The plans would include a more frequent service to Weston. There are plenty of people from Portishead who travel there and would do so by train if they could.

“People will use public transport if you make it easy, but at the moment it is difficult. The bus from Portishead to Bristol can take an hour, so the numbers are low. It is a bit of a chicken and egg situation.”

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