On Wednesday 23rd June, Carol Durrant and Tim Weekes from FoSBR met Councillor Lisa Stone at Bedminster station. We discussed the redevelopment going on around the station and its current access arrangements. We also talked about the impact of future rail developments.
Current station entrance
Passengers currently enter Bedminster station subway from Fraser Street, to the south of the station. Residents from north of the railway need to pass through the narrow underbridge of Windmill Hill. The Bedminster Green Transport Community Engagement survey in 2020 gathered feedback on how to improve this route.
The ramps from the subway to the platforms are too steep to comply with the Equality Act. These need to be re-designed to make the station fully accessible. They could be re-graded, but this would require a lot of remodelling. Alternately an accessible footbridge could be installed, which would almost certainly require lifts.
Potential subway extension
We discussed with Cllr Stone the possibility of extending the subway to make a northern entrance on Whitehouse Lane. Bristol City Council supported this idea, but then backed off because of the difficulty of tunnelling under the northernmost track. It may however still be possible to extend the subway, as WECA and Network Rail hope to reinstate four tracks between Bristol Temple Meads and Parson Street. This could require a major rebuild of Bedminster station.
Recent platform extension
Network Rail have done resurfacing work at the eastern end of the platforms, increasing their operational length. This will allow longer trains to call, so that Bedminster station can act as a southern terminus during Bristol East Junction engineering works. These take place between Tuesday 31st August and Friday 3rd September; see GWR website for details.
Old Windmill Close entrance
We looked beyond the end of the platforms towards the location of the old eastern entrance from Windmill Close. Cllr Stone saw why we thought there may be a case for re-opening this entrance, given that many new homes are set to be built around Whitehouse Street.
We spoke with traders on Whitehouse Lane. FoSBR are aware that the large scale residential redevelopment of Bedminster Green and Whitehouse Lane gives these traders little opportunity to relocate locally.
If businesses are to be displaced for new homes, then FoSBR would like to see further investigation of a northern entrance to better serve local rail users. Meanwhile, we argue that the land between Whitehouse Lane and the railway must be protected until Network Rail and WECA’s four-tracking plans are further advanced.
The local population is growing, and service frequency will improve when Portishead passenger trains start. A northern entrance to Bedminster station, by subway or footbridge and lift, would be transformative in making the station prominent, attractive and fully accessible.
Subway extension to Whitehouse Street: is it feasible?
The Bedminster Green Framework document (Feb 2019) looked at extending the underpass under the tracks to make a northern entrance. Page 78 shows ‘Station with shop /cafe / workspace’ north of the tracks.
Bristol City Council commissioned Jacobs to investigate potential station improvements. Jacobs reported that the low level of the track would make extending the underpass difficult. Because of this the northern entrance was dropped during the 2020 public consultation.
However Jacobs did not take into account the fact that this stretch of railway may soon be recommended for four-tracking. Network Rail’s Bristol to Exeter Strategic Rail Study will state that additional capacity is needed for an improved timetable of local stopping services south of Bristol Temple Meads. This fits in with WECA’s Bristol West Capacity Enhancement plan, which will re-quadruple the line from Temple Meads to Parson Street.
Options on how four-tracking will be delivered and how this will change Bedminster and Parson Street stations are still open. The re-design may offer the opportunity to extend Bedminster station underpass under the tracks to open onto Whitehouse Lane.