Bedminster Station, 1.3 km to the south-west of Temple Meads on the Bristol to Exeter line, has the potential to be a very useful transport hub. The Bedminster Green development will create a large number of new homes within walking distance of the station, but at the moment it is bleak and hard to access from the north-western side.
Facilties – what facilities?
The station has three operational platforms, with very limited facilities: basic shelters on each island, a customer help point and some cycle storage by the street entrance. It is unstaffed, has no facility for buying tickets or having refreshments, no car park or taxi rank. Besides these factors, there are problems with access to the station:
- There is only one street access to the station – via Fraser Street at the junction with Windmill Hill. This is connected to a subway in the station and then by non-compliant ramps up to the platforms. There is also a blocked-off entrance via the underpass of Windmill Close.
- Both the existing and the now closed Windmill Close entrances exited from the station to the south-east (Windmill Hill) side of the railway line, whereas the busier commercial and residential areas lie to the north-west (Bedminster) side. Passengers from Bedminster Green or East Street have to pass under the narrow Windmill Hill bridge to access the station.
Bedminster Station had 104,000 users during 2019/2020. Obviously this usage has fallen since the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will most likely increase again when restrictions are eased. In addition, more trains will stop there when the new Portishead passenger service starts. Added to this, up to 3,000 more people might be accommodated in the nearby Bedminster Green development.
Bristol City council have sought views on the transport needs for the new development in their ‘Bedminster Green River Restoration and Transport’ consultation, to which FoSBR has submitted a response which you can view here. Our main points are:
- New access will be required both for Equality Act compliance and also to provide a more direct route to East Street and the Bedminster area in general. The existing route, via the narrow underbridge of Windmill Hill is really not fit for purpose. Could the Government’s ‘Access for All’ programme help fund this?
- We understand preliminary investigations to have shown that extending the existing station subway so as to exit onto Whitehouse Lane (i.e. the East Street side of the line) and also reducing the gradient of the ramps would be far more technically difficult than one might imagine – and thus expensive.
- We wonder whether the alternative of completely replacing the subway with a footbridge, accessed by lifts and stairs, has been fully considered. This could provide a cheaper and less disruptive solution.
- We would like to see access improved before the new homes are built, so that people do not find and get used to other forms of transport. However, this kind of improvement can take a long time to fund and design and so, in the interim, we request that the plot of land between the station and Whitehouse Lane should be reserved for use as a transport hub.
Besides the access problems, the station is not exactly appealing. Some valiant efforts have been made by Severnside Community Rail Partnership and partners to lessen the drabness – with murals on the subway walls, etc. However it does need a make-over and especially it would be made far more appealing if the route from Bedminster was clear and easily visible with a welcoming entrance way. A shop or café/restaurant, either in or next to the station, would also help to make it more of a ‘destination’ in its own right.
Finally, WECA are bidding to the 2nd round of the ‘Restoring your Railway’, New Ideas fund for re-quadrupling the line from Temple Meads to Parson Street – a project known as the Bristol West Capacity Enhancement. It is also in the WECA Rail Delivery Plan for possible delivery in the period 2020-2030. This could be incorporated with the rejuvenation of the station.