Campaigners raise questions over Henbury rail route
CONCERNS have been raised about a railway route known as the 'Henbury loop' being left off a blueprint for the future of local rail.
The Greater Bristol Metro Rail campaign was launched by the city council and its neighbouring authorities earlier this year, calling on the government to invest in local train services.
The councils, together known as West of England Partnership, hired consultants Halcrow to produce a formal vision for improved Greater Bristol rail, a document which is due to be submitted to the government for consideration. The two-stage plan includes the reopening of the Portishead passenger line and extra services to local stations like Parson Street and Bedminster.
But campaigners say there is a glaring omission in the plan.
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Instead of a looping route at Henbury the proposal is instead for an offshoot, or spur, which takes in fewer stations.
Two new stations at Henbury and North Filton would cost £21 million and provide links to the planned development at Filton Airfield. But the service would not stop at Stapleton Road or Lawrence Hill, due to conflicts with existing services.
Longtime supporters of a full loop of local railway stations are not happy about this and a number of transport enthusiasts spoke out against the idea at last night's city council meeting.
Spokesman for rail union ASLEF Bernard Kennedy said: "The Henbury spur seems to be a curiosity and really should continue on to Avonmouth and to Bristol Temple Meads, and vice versa in the opposite direction. Also it doesn't appear to call at Stapleton Road and Lawrence Hill, thereby reducing the performance of the network overall."
Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways spokeswoman Julie Boston called for an urgent meeting this week with executive member for transport, councillor Tim Kent, to discuss the situation.
She said: "FOSBR is concerned at the Halcrow diagram which shows there are no services that stop at all inner city stations.This has been so disappointing."
Transport campaigner David Redgewell called for the report to be rewritten to take account of local priorities.
He said: "Some of these things don't make any sense. This is the biggest change in our railways since the 1970s so we've got to get this right."
Halcrow has previously stated the realistic approach to local rail improvements was to make small but significant changes first.
The deadline for comments on the planned new rail franchise is Friday.