SevernNet is a not-for-profit enterprise that represents businesses and the community across the Royal Portbury Dock, Avonmouth, Severnside and Western Approach area (PAS).
The PAS area is covered by 3 local authorities, Bristol City Council, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The local authorities acknowledge that the area is significant in terms of employment and regeneration and is inadequately served by public transport. Better transport links are key to improving access to work for local people, and shaping the strategic development of the area.
In late 2021, SevernNet published a Transport Charter describing challenges and opportunities for:
- decarbonising transport
- freight transport
- road infrastructure
- active travel (walking, cycling and scooting)
- rail & bus services (public transport)
- integrated transport facilities.
SevernNet rail, bus and interchange aspirations are of particular interest to FoSBR.
Public transport corridors
SevernNet have identified key routes that need improvement to connect colleagues with workplaces:
- connections that create a direct link to North Somerset from Avonmouth
- direct links between South Wales, Gloucestershire and PAS
- links to target residential populations with high density and unemployment, e.g. direct links to South Bristol, East Bristol and North/West Bristol.
SevernNet support the following rail improvements, many of which go beyond current West of England MetroWest plans:
- Severn Beach Line serving shift patterns 7 days per week, 364 days per year [Note: Increased services on the line will impact Port operations across the level crossing in Avonmouth. There are various technical solutions but these are not explored in the Transport Charter.]
- completion of Portway P&R as a modal hub
- Portishead line reinstatement, with intermediate stations at Ashton Gate, Pill and Portbury (Dock Road) to serve Royal Portbury Dock [Note: we are still awaiting a decision by DfT on the Development Consent Order.]
- re-instatement of footbridge and regular services at Pilning – Pilning station is in close proximity to Western Approach Industrial Park, Central Park, Central Avenue and the yet to be developed Westgate, which lies between the M49 and the villages of Pilning and Easter Compton This would extend access to employment for people on the South Wales Mainline, which includes the significant populations of Cardiff and Newport; and connecting other stopping services using the Severn Tunnel junction.
- Henbury Loop reinstatement to allow connectivity through north Bristol – passenger services from Filton to Avonmouth with a station to service workplaces around Chittening and Cabot Park
- creation of a Severn Beach–Henbury Loop chord (as mentioned the WECA Strategic Rail Investment Plan) to allow direct services from Severn Beach to Yate
- quality modal hubs built into new and existing stations.
Modal interchanges at stations
Modal hubs are needed at train stations (and at other interchanges). SevernNet recommend that multi-modal hubs should also offer caged cycle parking and hop-on/ hop-off bike and scooter sharing available to address last mile journeys. [Note: a new e-bike hire scheme by ShareBike/Big Issue rolls out in late January 2022 – this hopes to offer advantages over the Voi e-scooter and (defunct) YoBike non-e-bike hire schemes.]
- Portway P&R (rail and bus) would, according to SevernNet, benefit from adjustment of bus routes First 3 / 4, Stagecoach 10 / 11 and X5 from North Somerset to call nearby. [Note: First Bus have recently agreed to stop the Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon, Portishead, Bristol service at Avonmouth.]
- Portbury (Dock Road) P&R – a potential P&R at this location could serve both port employees and commuters coming off the M5. Portbury would also benefit from active travel facilities and/or integrated bus services which stop either side of the Avonmouth Bridge.
- Pilning P&R – a potential P&R at this location could serve South Gloucestershire and the re-booted station could become a significant multi-modal hub for this area serving both journeys to work, local residents and leisure travellers accessing the Wave and Bristol Zoo, with linking bus services and active travel facilities.
The Severnside bus network does not serve key corridors (listed above), falls short of reaching the industrial parks and not all services align with shift times.
- First bus services 3 / 4 serve the industrial areas close to Avonmouth village, St Andrews Road and Lawrence Weston but there is no direct service from the City Centre to Cabot Park, Chittening, Severn Road or Western Approach
- no direct link from North Somerset to Avonmouth and Severnside [Note: First Bus have recently agreed to stop the X5 Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon, Portishead, Bristol service at Avonmouth.]
- no direct bus from South Wales. The T7 from Chepstow to Bristol passes through Severnside but does not stop. M49 Amazon junction opening (no firm date yet) may make a Western Approach call viable
- Stagecoach serve key shift times for Western Approach businesses (10 & 11/12) but only from South Gloucestershire direction
- works buses fill the public transport void, eg, Lidl service from Weston, Amazon services from central Bristol and South Wales.