Residents want more local railway stations in Bishopston and Horfield

May 26 2016
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Residents want more local railway stations in Bishopston and Horfield

THE results of a travel survey held by Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways (FOSBR) indicate that people want new railway lines within the city, and there is keen support for the reopening of Ashley Hill Station.

“The reopening of Ashley Hill Station would transform the lives of local residents and those employed in Southmead Hospital and local industry if the train service is regular and reliable,” said Julie Boston from FOSBR.

An increasing number of people believe that the problems of congestion, delays and pollution in Bristol cannot be solved on the roads alone and that the neglected railways can make a crucial contribution.

The results of FOSBR’s Bristol Travel Survey have been analysed and published. The survey was run at the start of the year attracted 800 responses to questions about rail and bus travel.

One of the questions included asked which train stations would be useful to you if they were reopened?

Both Horfield and Ashley Hill attracted strong support and featured in the top five stations along with Ashton Gate, Portishead and Long Ashton.

There was particularly high support by 38% of respondents for a stop at Ashley Down in Horfield. One person commented: “ A local train line to Temple Meads or Parkway would significantly improve the commute of people from upper Horfield and Ashley Down. “These trains would have to be frequent (especially in the morning) and run on time.” The reopening of Ashley Hill was announced in 2015 and is already included in MetroWest Phase 2 and Network Rail have indicated their preference for only one station on the Filton Bank Out.

Phase 2 also includes a spur from Filton Abbey Wood to the reopened North Filton and Henbury stations. The delivery date of Phase 2 is 2021 but the project may not run to schedule. For instance, the completion date for Phase 1, the Portishead line, has slipped from spring 2019 to spring 2020.

The number of tracks on Filton Bank is currently being increased from two to four in order to improve capacity between Filton Abbey Wood and Bristol Temple Meads. Great Western Main Line electrification from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads also requires the erection of overhead lines.

Former MP for Bristol West, Stephen Williams, is unimpressed with the delays. He said: “I met with Network Rail, Great Western trains and the Rail Minister several times to make the case for the reopening of Ashley Hill station.

About ten thousand people live within a short walk of the site so there would clearly be plenty of eager passengers for both Temple Meads and Parkway. “I was assured in early 2015 that the station would definitely reopen once the doubling of the track on Filton Bank was complete and the lines were electrified.”

The proposed new service will see trains leave Bristol Temple Meads, calling at Lawrence Hill, Stapleton Road, Ashley Hill, Filton Abbey Wood, North Filton and Henbury. From Henbury the train will reverse for the journey back to Temple Meads. Departures from Ashley Hill will be hourly in each direction.

Other local services may eventually also stop at Ashley Hill. The Horfield/Lockleaze station reopening is not included in the current MetroWest schemes. The West of England Partnership have indicated that a station at Constable Road (Horfield) will be considered as part of the ongoing West of England spatial plan and transport study, as will the full Henbury Loop via Henbury to Avonmouth. FOSBR continue to campaign for eventual reopening of the Henbury Loop as they consider this makes operational sense and maximises crosscity travel options.

Julie Bolton added: “Local people need to call on MPs, Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, and local councillors in Bristol and South Gloucester to put pressure on central government to make sure Network Rail keeps Filton Bank fourtracking to schedule and keeps the delivery of MetroWest Phase 1 as top priority for the region.

When there is four tracking local trains can stop at local stations!” Ashley Hill railway station opened with a single platform in 1864. A second platform was added when the line was doubled to two tracks in 1885.

In the 1910 picture the station looked almost rural as Muller Road has not yet been built and housing has not crept up the Lockleaze slopes. The station was regularly used by children on outings from nearby Muller’s Orphanage, such as seaside trips to Clevedon.

Many of the picture postcards from this time show groups of children waiting for the train or watching the trains go by. The station was rebuilt when the Filton Bank tracks were quadrupled in 1933. This later picture shows four tracks running through the station with simple platform shelters and one of the original surviving station buildings.

Ashley Hill closed as a passenger station in 1964, 100 years after opening, and the Filton Bank tracks were reduced from four to two in 1984. Further information about the travel survey, MetroWest and local rail campaigns can be found on the FOSBR website www. fosbr.org.uk .