Bristol Rail Regeneration poster

Bristol Rail Regeneration – Summer 2021

Most FoSBR members will know that the Bristol Rail Regeneration project gets into full swing this summer. During the eight week period from Saturday 10 July to Friday 3 September, Network Rail will replace Bristol East Junction with a new more flexible layout. This will pave the way for MetroWest suburban services, and make it easier to operate more trains into and out of Bristol Temple Meads station.

Train operators and Network Rail have worked hard to provide the best service possible while this crucial work is being done. They have tried to keep people on trains, rather than replacement buses.

For short periods Bristol Temple Meads will be completely closed. At other times some trains will be able to use it but others will not. At these times Bedminster station will stand in as a terminus for trains from the south-west. Lawrence Hill station will be used when trains from the north and South Wales cannot access Bristol Temple Meads.

Resurfaced areas at Bedminster Station to allow longer trains to stop during Summer 2021 engineering works
Resurfaced areas at Bedminster Station. This work was done to allow longer trains to stop during Summer 2021 engineering works

Logistics

The logistics of this operation are not for the faint-hearted. As an example:

Passengers who need help with access are asked to contact train operators before travelling. But what if they don’t do this? People heading into Bristol from Severn Beach will be asked to get off at Montpelier, where a minibus will be on hand. There will be regular announcements, but some passengers may miss them and arrive at Lawrence Hill. So GWR have had to work out how to extract passengers with access requirements from a platform that can normally only be accessed via a steep flight of steps. This and many similar problems have had to be solved.

On some days, trains will use the Rhubarb curve. This line, normally only used by freight trains, allows trains to go from Bristol Parkway to Bath without calling at Bristol Temple Meads. Some trains will avoid Bristol Temple Meads by passing through St Philip’s Marsh depot, though this can only be done when trains that are stabled there are out in service.

The Bristol East Junction project is the result of years of planning. It is a huge and complex programme, and it is likely that things will change. If you need to travel through Bristol between 10th July and 3rd September, make sure you have the latest information by checking with your train operator before you leave home. Check the GWR or Cross Country Trains web pages for the latest information.

Bristol Temple Meads roof repairs

Bristol East Junction is not the only thing that’s being worked on. At Bristol Temple Meads, scaffolders have erected an enormous structure, filling much of the main train shed.

Platform 3 at Bristol Temple Meads - regenaration underway
Scaffolding on Platform 3, June 2021. The regeneration of Bristol Temple Meads is under way.

They have installed fifteen 36m-long roof beams to span the tracks and platforms, allowing work to progress safely overhead.

When this work is complete in 2023 Bristol Temple Meads will be a brighter, lighter, more welcoming gateway to the city.

Eastern entrance

Less visibly, workers have started preparing to extend the station subway at Bristol Temple Meads. A section of the canopy on Platform 15 will be temporarily removed to allow workers to install piling around the extension.

Preliminary work on new eastern entrance, Bristol Temple Meads
June 2021: Work has started on new eastern entrance, Bristol Temple Meads. Plant can be seen in the new University of Bristol site, and part of the canopy roof has been removed.

Network Rail plan to break through to the University of Bristol campus site during the summer. By doing this during the Bristol East Junction blockade, they hope to minimise disruption.

Together with WECA, Network Rail will construct a small ticket hall at the new entrance. This will open in time to serve the new university campus.

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