Platforms are falling apart and are overgrown
A T last it is being recognised that Bristol's rail network needs to be modernised to meet all the challenges ahead. A 40 per cent increase in passenger numbers is predicted in the Bristol area in the next decade.
To meet this challenge, the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition needs to be bold and give backing to the electrification of the Great Western line to London Paddington.
For far too long we have been overlooked here and this trend needs to change. We have seen the East coast and West coast main lines electrified and modernised.
It is depressing when you go around our local railway network and see railway lines ripped up and the ones that are left in need of more investment. Railway stations that were grand old buildings now gone and the platforms left falling apart and overgrown with weeds. Also, the people using our Greater Bristol railways have to put up with cattle truck conditions, because we do not have enough railway carriages to go around. This is simply not good enough and should not be allowed to happen. Yes, it is imperative we receive the correct level of railway investment and yes, the Great Western line to London Paddington should be given the go ahead for the electrification.
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The West of England Partnership councillors have said it costs £5 million to build a new railway station, and £11 million to put in a kilometre of railway track. The Great Western electrification project is basing the average costs of £800,000 per kilometre. This is for lines already built with the infrastructure in place and trains already running.
The figure quoted by the West of England Partnership councillors of £11 million per kilometre is for a new railway line which includes bridges, and railway embankments and everything new has to start from scratch. If we take the Portishead line, which has the railway line and the infrastructure already in place, we are probably looking at spending in the region of £500,000 per kilometre.
As for building a new railway station, consideration depends on the size required. Also, the groundwork needs to be taken into consideration and finally if a terminus is needed. Somewhere in the region of £1 million is about right. We are not looking at building a new Parkway station etc.
It is about time we seriously started looking at having our own ITA – Integrated Transport Authority. What we have is not working – all the successful places around the country that have ITAs have good transport systems, something that we desperately need.
● Dave Wood is a member of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union, Bristol. The above is written in a personal capacity.