In order to cut congestion in Bristol we need to improve public transport and reduce commuter traffic on our roads.
For too long Bristol has ignored its railway lines. The Mayor may talk about his passion for an Underground but at £4bn it simply isn’t feasible. We need to be doing more to take advantage of the large amount of existing ‘over
The Henbury Line is due to reopen in 2021 – this is good news but more needs to be done.
I want us to look again at reopening the full Henbury Loop complete with new stations at Horfield and Chittening. If we can connect the primary employment areas of Temple Meads, the Avonmouth Industrial Area and the
manufacturing centres at Filton on the one loop line then it is a game changer in our efforts to tackle congestion.
The Government has already given additional funding to the region to help deliver on our rail ambitions. I want to work with the Regional Mayor, City Council and the Government to take this even further.
Every commuter using rail is one less car using the roads!
So what is happening on Rail right now:-
MetroWest Phase 1, which includes the Portishead line and enhanced services on the Severn Beach and Bristol Bath lines, is still being designed. The West of England has just finished a study looking in detail at the engineering and signalling requirements for the project. It has highlighted a number of challenges which have taken a few months longer than planned to investigate fully, such as the works required to the track along the Avon Gorge to enable the required line speed, and the signal work required where the Portishead spur joins the main line. The result of this is that the costs for the Portishead element of the MetroWest Phase One have gone through the roof, although the other two elements (a better service on the Severn Beach Line and improvements to the Bath to Bristol Line) still seem to be fine.
The results of this study will obviously have an impact of the overall scheme as it essentially leaves it with a multi-million pound shortfall. At the moment alternative funding sources are being pursued to try and bridge the gap.
MetroWest Phase 2, which includes the Henbury line (with stations at Ashley Down, North Filton and Henbury) and a half hourly service to Yate, is moving towards the next phase of development, the GRIP stage 3 study (Network Rail speak for design and engineering). The study started last year and should be published shortly. The GRIP 3 study will look at the detailed engineering solutions required to deliver the project. A requirement for the study will be to ensure that designs for the Henbury line are future proofed for potential conversion to a ‘loop’ should this become possible in the future.
Separately to the core MetroWest programme, the Council has been developing a brief for a ‘MetroWest Enhancements’ study, to investigate further potential enhancements such as improved frequencies, new route opportunities and the potential for new stations. As part of this the Joint Transport Strategy includes provision for a new Station at Horfield serving the communities of North Bristol.
So at the moment things still seem 'on track' for the Henbury Station - fingers crossed.
Now let's go for the full Henbury Loop.