Better trains

Stadler FLIRT at Cardiff

Bristol Rail Campaign want clean, modern, comfortable trains.

Our local services are largely provided by ageing diesel trains. The newest of these are thirty years old and were originally designed for Thames Valley commuter lines. They are poorly suited to urban routes.

Some rail routes in the Bristol area were due to be electrified as part of the Great Western Electrification project, but this was cut back in 2016 due to cost over-runs.


We believe it is essential for all lines in our area to be electrified. The main lines through Bath to Bristol Temple Meads, and from Bristol Temple Meads to Bristol Parkway should be electrified using 25kV overhead power. This should be done as a matter of urgency.

Other local lines, such as the Severn Beach line and the planned routes to Henbury and Portishead, should be decarbonised using the most appropriate technology. Battery-electric trains such as those now being introduced in South Wales may be the best way to achieve this.

Fit for purpose

The Turbo and Sprinter type trains currently used on our local services were not designed for metro-style services with short distances between stops. They are regularly delayed at stations. Their narrow aisles and doorways often combine with large numbers of people getting on and of to add a few minutes of delay at each stop. This soon adds up and leads to cancellations to regain the timetable.

The Severn Beach line carries many passengers with bicycles. We feel that this should be encouraged by providing better accommodation for bikes, and specifying trains that make it easier for cyclists to load and unload.


A tram-train is a vehicle which runs on the existing rail network alongside main line passenger and freight services, but can also run on the street. Unlike conventional trains, they can go round tight corners and up steep hills. This means suburban rail services can be extended into a city-wide mass transit system at a lower cost.

Battery-electric tram trains will soon be introduced in Cardiff, following successful implementation in other cities. Initially they will run on the existing rail network, but later street running will be introduced so that they can serve the Cardiff Bay area.

Tram-trains could allow Bristol to build on the success of MetroWest rail services. We believe that a mass transit system which can be extended incrementally, using known technology, is much more likely to be deliverable than one which relies on novel or untested systems.