Bristol East Junction

Bristol East Junction is extremely important for our local rail services.

Following years of planning and preparation, Network Rail completed a major upgrade in September 2021. The new track layout adds an extra line into Temple Meads station, and improves the layout and signalling to give greater flexibility. This means that signallers have more choices when routing trains into platforms, which should reduce delays and make it easier to introduce new services. It also allows trains to travel through the junction more quickly.

The main work took eight weeks to complete, and was finished on time. It required:

  • 50 engineering trains
  • more than 5km of new track
  • more than 300 track panels
  • and about 26,000 tonnes of ballast
Aerial view of Bristol East Junction after renewal, September 2021
Bristol East Junction after renewal, September 2021 (image: Network Rail)

Better local services

This work was essential to allow the expansion of local services FoSBR campaign for. The first benefit, from December 2021, will be an increase in frequency to Avonmouth. This service will have two trains per hour instead of the present three trains every two hours. Later, the new service to Henbury and more frequent trains to Gloucester will take advantage of this new capacity.

New signal boom at Bristol East Junction, December 2020
New signal gantry at Bristol East Junction, December 2020

Timeline

September 2021

Work completed and handed back on time.

February 2020

During his announcement giving the go-ahead to HS2, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirms funding for the Bristol East Junction upgrade. He describes the junction as a “major pinch point” for congestion in the South West’s railway network.

January 2020

Work starts on the renewal of a substation near Oxford Street in St Philips.

Preparatory work underway at Bristol East Junction, Feb 2020
Preparatory work underway at Bristol East Junction, Feb 2020

The Network Rail website states that

Track through the junction will be replaced in multiple phases from late April 2020 until June 2021. During 2020, most of this work will be carried out over Saturday nights (starting late February) as well as some Sundays and a number of full weekend shifts.

The programme for construction can be found on the Network Rail website.

October 2019

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps announces the DfT five-year Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP) for Control Period 6 (2019-2024) outlining 58 projects costing £10 billion.

Individual schemes seeking DfT funding need to progress through the five-step decision gateways before moving into delivery, the first step being ‘decision to initiate’, moving on to development, design, delivery and then finally to ‘deploy’.

Bristol East Junction is in the final ‘decision to design’ stage.

June 2019

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling visits Bristol to discuss the region’s rail plans. He meets Tim Bowles (WECA Mayor) and Mark Langman (Network Rail’s MD for Wales and Western) to discuss Bristol East Junction. Grayling expresses support for the scheme and it is announced that the DfT is working with Network Rail to assess the business case and unlock the funding to engineer the scheme.

2017

DfT offer £10m for the development study from the savings from the deferred electrification to Bristol Temple Meads.

2016

Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, writes to the DfT to ask for Bristol East Junction as compensation for the delay in electrification.

Pre-1970 signalling diagram for Bristol East Junction