Campaigners for Greater Bristol Metro set out plans to transform rail services by 2018
Bristol Evening Post. March 05, 2012
The West of England Partnership – the body that represents the four local authorities – officially launched the Greater Bristol Metro Rail campaign last week.
It is calling for disused rail lines and stations to be reopened and for the public to lobby the government to help make it happen.
The partnership has now produced a report setting out a timetable for when they want those improvements to happen, in two main stages.
Planning consultants Halcrow have set out what could be achieved if the public and local authorities successfully lobby the government for better local rail services.
They believe more active use of the network from Bath, Severn Beach and Portishead under phase one of the strategy could create earlier opportunities for new stations.
In all, Greater Bristol Metro Rail could deliver up to ten new stations within the 15-year Great Western franchise period, when it is re-appointed next year.
That’s if four-tracking of a section of local railway, the reopening of the Portishead railway and half-hourly trains on the existing network can be secured first.
The Henbury Loop could happen – when redevelopment plans for Filton Airfield are clear – from 2019.
In the short term, a new park-and-ride platform at Bristol Parkway can be delivered by 2013 with Bristol City Council funding.
Halcrow then proposes government support should be sought for four track, a new line to Portishead with a new station at Pill. This would provide enough capacity to introduce more regular services.
If the West of England and Metro Rail supporters persuade the government to back the submission, it would mean even more trains.
The consultants say that from 2013 to 2018 Greater Bristol should see hourly services from Portishead to Severn Beach and Temple Meads; a new hourly service from Severn Beach to Bath Spa and a half-hourly Severn Beach Line service with through trains to Portishead and Bath Spa.
Four track is the key to the success of this plan and should be the target of a focussed campaign in the lead-in to a government funding decision in June.
Halcrow says that by 2018 the West of England can focus on providing a half hour service to Bedminster/Parson Street by stopping Taunton to Cardiff trains; an hourly Henbury Loop service via Filton Abbey Wood with capacity for two new stations at Filton North and Henbury alongside Filton Airfield development.
The service could serve new stations at Horfield and Ashley Down.
In Yate a half-hourly service could be provided by extending Weston-super-Mare-to-Bristol Parkway services with a new turn-back facility.
The report notes that funding opportunities for a number of new stations, including Saltford, Ashton Gate and Corsham, subject to business cases, should be sought within the franchise period beyond 2013.
Bristol’s executive member for transport Councillor Tim Kent said: “Our proposals take on board what many people have been calling for in this region and go a step further.
“We believe this is more than just a vision but a deliverable plan which will help keep our city and region moving and boost economic growth.
“Our proposals will see the reopening of the Portishead and Henbury lines, up to 10 new stations and trains serving every station at least every 30 minutes.
“This can be the age of rail, where we reverse the damage done in the 1960s, relieve the congestion we see now on our roads and rail network, and deliver a modern and functioning rail network that will benefit all.
“Everyone should get writing and e-mailing the government and signing the petition.
“The campaign will continue to run as long as there are benefits to be gained for the local network.
“If we get government support for the right benefits in the right order, everybody wins.”
To get involved with the campaign, go to the website www.greaterbristolrail.com.