Rail improvements take a long time. Typically they can take decades from conception to realisation. Here are timelines for some of the projects in our area.
MetroWest is a West of England Combined Authority and North Somerset project to improve rail transport services in Bristol and its surrounding area. It includes the construction of new rail lines, reopening of old lines, and the development of stations and train services for the West of England area.
MetroWest is being delivered in a staged approach:
- Phase 1a: provide half-hourly services on the Severn Beach Line and to Bath Spa;
- Phase 1b: provide an hourly passenger service on the re-opened Portishead Line;
- Phase 2: provide half-hourly train services to Yate and hourly services on a reopened Henbury Line.
See MetroWest Timeline.
The location of the proposed Bristol Arena is important from our perspective because it is hoped that many people will attend events by public transport. Plans to build the Arena by Temple Meads Station have now been cancelled, but the new possible location at Filton would be close to the Henbury line, and could be rail-served.
Bristol East Junction
This crucial junction controls access to Bristol Temple Meads Station for trains to and from London, Wales and the North.
It had a major upgrade in 2021.
Bristol West Capacity
The line heading west from Bristol Temple Meads to Parson Street was rationalised some years ago. The layout now has little room for new services. The introduction of trains to Portishead, which will use this route before turning off at Parson Street Junction, will add to this problem.
Electrification has been an aspiration in Britain since the 1950s. Other European countries have rolling programmes and have managed to progressively electrify their lines at a fraction of the cost, but here in Britain we operate a ‘feast and famine’ cycle where massive investments are followed by overspends and cancellation. The Great Western electrification has followed this pattern.
The line to Henbury forms part of MetroWest Phase 2. This service could continue to Avonmouth (the ‘Henbury Loop’ service) or, as currently planned, terminate at Henbury (the ‘Henbury Spur’).
This is now part of MetroWest Phase 1 and has received its Development Consent Order. It could reopen in 2025, after more than 20 years of campaigning.
Thornbury suffers from gridlock when accidents or breakdowns occur on the Thornbury “ring road”, the A38 or M4/M5 junction. Thornbury residents continue to press for a re-instatement of the Thornbury Branch line from Thornbury to Yate and then services beyond.
Pilning is consistently one of the least-used stations in Britain. With a service of 2 trains a week, on the same day and in the same direction, how could it be anything else? Its position on the line between Bristol and the Severn Tunnel gives it considerable potential.
Portway Park & Ride Station
Ever since the 2002 opening of Portway Park & Ride with bus services to the city centre, there have been plans to open a railway station on the adjacent Severn Beach Line. This station finally opened in 2023.
There is strong local support for reopening Saltford Station, between Keynsham and Oldfield Park on the Great Western line from Bristol to Bath. The locals want it, the politicians want it, Bath Spa University want it… but when will it happen?
St Annes Park Station
St Annes Park station is the subject of a successful bid for development funding from the government’s ‘Restoring Your Railway’ fund.