Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways

Our case 2016

You can solve Bristol’s biggest problem.

For most people that problem is traffic – congestion, delays, pollution and accidents. More and more of us realize that the problem cannot be solved on the roads alone and that the neglected railways can make a crucial contribution.

The most recent passenger statistics demonstrate how many journeys local rail takes off the road network: [Read more…]

People power has already notched up some victories:

FOSBR’s future emphasis is on making sure promised improvements (and some of the difficult targets) actually happen and that funding is made available to enable them to happen sooner rather than later.

As we continue to show, people power works.

Join us in our campaign!


Severn Beach Line – 40 minute service

On the Severn Beach Line the 2006/7 FOSBR campaign persuaded Bristol City Council (BCC) to pay the train operator to provide an additional train and crew on weekdays to Avonmouth or Severn Beach and an hourly Sunday service.

This more reliable 40 minute service (hourly on Sundays) which started in May 2008, reached 1 million passenger trips pa in 2013. This is more than a 100% increase from the 430,000 passenger trips counted in 2007.

The £420,000 pa subsidy was renegotiated down to £200,000 by BCC in September 2011, due to the increase in passengers.

Bristol City Council funding ended in 2014 as the Department for Transport took the enhanced service into the franchise.

FOSBR would like the council to reinvest the money saved to kickstart a new improvement - such as filling gaps in the Severn Beach line evening service or extra trains stopping at Bedminster and Parson Street.

[Severnside Community Rail Partnership Progress Report January 2014 including Passenger Statistics]

Severn Beach Line – Extra evening service

In September 2012 a long-existing gap in the Severn Beach Line evening service was filled with one extra round trip of the train, leaving Temple Meads at 9.30pm. This was achieved through sustained campaigning from FOSBR and allies and was negotiated by Bristol City Council at no extra subsidy cost.

Extra Trains at Bedminster and Parson Street

FOSBR has worked with the Severnside Community Rail Partnership (CRP) to successfully persuade First Great Western to stop extra trains at Bedminster and Parson Street, to move towards a more regular service, giving a half hourly service for most of the day. MetroWest Phase 1 promises service enhancements to the timetable from 2019 but FOSBR continue to campaign for further improvements to the timetable before then.

Portishead Line

FOSBR, the Portishead Rail Group and other allies have persuaded the four local councils to restore passenger trains between Bristol Temple Meads and Portishead.

Following the FOSBR submission to their Great Western Rail Utilisation Strategy (RUS), Network Rail carried out a cost-benefit analysis of the Severn Beach line and other local services. They proposed a half-hourly service, with alternate trains running to Bath and to Portishead. This is a great first step - due by 2019 as part of Phase 1 of the Metro Rail project.

MetroWest Phase 1 Portishead plans include re-opening stations at Pill and Portishead, but do not currently include re-opening stations at Portbury and Ashton Gate.

[Portishead Rail including Network Rail Interim Report on North Somerset website...]

Henbury Loop

The West of England Partnership (WEP) are studying the feasibility of investing in the Henbury Loop line between Avonmouth and Bristol Parkway. There is a strong argument that local rail is needed for the vast building programme of 8,000 new homes in the Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood on and around the old Filton Airfield site.

A Henbury service is due to open to passengers in MetroWest Phase 2 in 2021. FOSBR believe that a loop service from Avonmouth to Filton would contribute more to MetroWest flexibility and resilience than a spur service from Filton.

FOSBR are campaigning for the installation of transport infrastructure before the houses are built by obtaining early Section 106 contributions from developers. This will provide alternatives to the car and Bus Rapid Transit, which has an unattractively lengthy and circuitous route. Without early opening of the line FOSBR believe that there is a high likelihood that occupants will have learned to rely on their car before the alternative rail transport becomes available.

[“MetroWest Phase 2 – Bristol North Fringe Stations” on South Gloucestershire website...]

Four-tracking of Filton Bank

The four-tracking of Filton Bank to facilitate capacity improvements between Dr Day’s Junction (Barton Hill) and Filton is scheduled by Network Rail to be completed before 2015.

The four-tracking will include improvements to associated signaling infrastructure. The capacity improvement will benefit inter-city and freight trains running between Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway, Severn Beach Line trains that branch off at Narroways junction and stopping trains for any re-opened stations on the Filton Bank.

[“Bristol Area Signalling Renewal Project” on Network Rail website...]


Electrification from Paddington to Bristol has been confirmed by central government and work has now started. Network Rail is scheduled to complete the work by 2016/17.

The electrified routes will include:

  • Great Western Main Line between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads via Bath Spa,Chippenham/Swindon
  • South Wales Main Line from Swindon to Swansea via Bristol Parkway and the Severn Tunnel
  • connecting line from Bristol Parkway to Bristol Temple Meads stations (Filton Bank).
The electrified routes will allow the introduction of new Intercity Express Programme: Super Express Trains. These trains will have 20% more seats and their faster acceleration and deceleration will lead to journey time reductions of up to 22 minutes (BTM-Pad).

[“Western Hub” press release on Network Rail website...]

Station Re-openings

FOSBR continues to push for station re-openings that improve end-to-end journey times:


MetroWest is the name given to a basic rail based Metro by the West of England Partnership (WEP) and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the four local authorities: Bristol City Council (BCC), South Gloucestershire County Council (SGCC), Bath & North East Somerset (BANES) and North Somerset Council (NS).

MetroWest Phase 1 (2019) will re-open the Portishead line to passenger rail services. It will introduce half-hourly services for the Severn Beach line, Bristol to Bath and Portishead lines. It has not yet been decided if St Andrews Road and Severn Beach can be included in this half-hourly service plan, but they will be served by at least an hourly service.

Phase 1 includes investigation of the business cases for re-opening of Ashton Gate and Saltford stations but these stations would rely on additional funding.

[Further information on MetroWest Phase 1 on TravelWest website…]

MetroWest Phase 2 (2021) will introduce half hourly train services to Yate and hourly services on a re-opened Henbury line (with capacity for two stations). The Phase 2 Station Study recommends that new stations should be at Filton North, and Henbury or Henbury East. (due to poor ground conditions around the Charlton Tunnel).

Phase 2 includes investigation of additional stations on Filton Bank at Horfield and Ashley Down - both subject to a business case and suitable location.

[Further information on MetroWest Phase 2 on TravelWest website…]