West of England rail travel to be tranformed after authority approves plan

Bristol Temple Meads Station

The West of England Combined Authority has set out its plans to transform travel by rail over the next ten years. The plan, agreed at committee on 4 Dec, sets out how rail travel will change between 2020-2030 providing people with new rail routes, step-free access at stations and more frequent ‘turn up and go’ services.

It is the first time a long-term regional rail plan has been agreed for the region. The West of England Combined Authority is leading on the work, in partnership with Network Rail and local councils.

Projects to be delivered by 2025 include re-opening the Portishead line including new stations Pill and Portishead, providing a new station at Bristol’s Portway Park and Ride site, upgrading and extending the Henbury line, extending services to Gloucester with new stations at Ashley Down, Henbury and North Filton, creation of a new eastern entrance at Bristol Temple Meads, leading to the site of the planned University of Bristol campus and St Philips Marsh and station improvements at Freshford, Lawrence Hill, Nailsea & Backwell, Parsons Street, Patchway, Severn Beach, Stapleton Road, and Yate.

Alongside these projects, Network Rail is also delivering a programme of other improvements in and around Bristol Temple Meads, including the remodelling of Bristol East Junction, the renovation of the station roof and a complete rewire.

The 10-year plan also sets out projects that could be delivered between 2020 and 2030 subject to further successful bids.

Feasibility funding was announced in November for developing a proposal for St Anne’s Park station, and South Gloucestershire Council is submitting an outline business case for Charfield station following an award of £1.2m from WECA in 2019.

Mayor of the West of England, Tim Bowles said: “For the first time, the West of England now has a long-term regional rail improvement plan to get our region moving. Alongside our significant investment in cycling, walking, e-scooters and bus routes, this will give us the sort of sustainable transport network we need so that people can get to their job, to school or enjoy their leisure time with a practical alternative to using the car.”

Mike Gallop, Western route director for Network Rail, said: “It is fantastic to see this long-term commitment to investment in the railway across the West of England.

“This coincides with the start of our huge programme of rail regeneration in and around Bristol Temple Meads, which will lay the foundations for this wider transformation.

“We’re looking forward to continue working closely with the West of England Combined Authority and the local councils to improve rail transport in Bristol and the wider West of England, with Bristol Temple Meads at its heart.”