First Great Western will add to service on successful Severn Bridge rail line
Newer trains with bigger carriages are on the way for the Severn Beach rail line, due to a "pretty spectacular" growth in popularity.
The line, which runs through Bristol from Temple Meads to Severn Beach via Clifton Down and Avonmouth, has seen a more than 20 per cent increase in passenger numbers in the last year.
First Great Western regional manager for the West of England Julian Crow described this as a "huge success story" when he spoke at a West of England Partnership meeting on transport.
He told councillors: "The Severn Beach line growth is pretty spectacular. This is very, very encouraging.
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"The downside is some very cosy conditions on the busiest trains."
To help deal with the growing demand, Mr Crow said the trains used would be upgraded – probably in the summer – meaning they could add an extra 40 seats per train.
The new trains would be more modern class 150 model, which can reach up to 75mph, although that speed would not be practical for much of the journey through Bristol.
Passengers will find it easier to get on and off the new trains, Mr Crow added.
The older models are due to be sent to a northern rail franchise as part of a deal with the Department for Transport.
New ticket machines have also been added at a number of stops on the line in the last week, at Redland, Montpelier and Clifton Down.
Mr Crow said; "There is a lot of growth around Bristol and potential for growth.
"There are pretty similar pictures on the Bath to Filton, Bristol to Cardiff and Bristol to Gloucester lines.
"The current level of service on the Severn Beach line is confirmed to continue for the May timetable.
"We are in negotiation with Bristol City Council to maintain the level of service and possible improvements to the evening service."
The city council put the subsidised service out to tender last year, as part of an effort to save money on all of the authority supported transport routes.
This led to concerns that the line could be cut back despite the growth in popularity.
As revealed in the Evening Post earlier this month, the council did consider scrapping the line altogether as part of the £28 million budget cuts for 2011/12 but has now discounted that idea.
Much of the growth in the line has come since the council made a number of improvements, including funding a second train to provide services every 40 minutes.