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MetroWest set to scrap Henbury Loop in favour of cheaper spur

The councils leading the MetroWest project are expected to drop the idea of the ‘Henbury Loop’ because of its “very high financial risk” and are recommending a simple spur to Henbury instead.

Transport leaders from the four councils making up the West of England joint transport board are meeting today to discuss the recommendation.

The Friends of Surburban Bristol Railways (FOSBR) accused the local authorities of a “lack of ambition” in ditching the Loop from Henbury to Avonmouth and Severnside.

MetroWest map

A detailed report explains the reasoning behind the decision, arguing that the Loop options also have “high levels of performance risk and also require significant platform capacity at Temple Meads”, whereas the Spur options would “prove to be less of a constraint in capacity terms (particularly at Bristol Temple Meads)’, [and] can operate in isolation with a far smaller performance risk (than the Loop).”

Although the Loop would generate an extra 8,000 passengers a year, it would cost nearly twice as much as the £60m Spur option (once longer-term revenue support is taken into account), which has a much better cost-benefit ratio – above 2.0, the threshold for Local Growth Fund money.

metrowest pass

(Option A Yate refers to a half-hourly service to/from Yate, extending existing services that terminate at Parkway to Yate; Option B Glos refers to half-hourly service to/from Yate, extending existing services that terminate at Parkway to Yate, Cam & Dursley and Gloucester)

The report says: “The Phase 2 Henbury Spur option can be built so that it could be converted to a Loop operation in a future, separate phase of the MetroWest programme which, as with all future rail options, will continue to be subject to business case and funding.

“Options based on a Henbury Spur are deliverable and meet the project’s objectives; if Constable Road were to be removed from Phase 2, the project could be delivered within the current budget. Constable Road could be delivered in a future, separate phase of the MetroWest programme once again being subject to value for money tests and funding pressures.”


(WBS refers to wider benefits. Source of all diagrams and maps: West of England LEP Joint Transport Board)

MetroWest Phase 1

Aims: Reopen the Portishead Line, half hourly train services for the Severn Beach Line, more trains serving Keynsham, Oldfield Park, Parson Street and possibly Bedminster subject to further technical work.

Costs: New train services could start operating from May 2019. This is subject to funding and meeting all the regulatory and technical requirements. The indicative capital costs for Phase 1 are expected to be £58.2m.

MetroWest Phase 2

Aims: Half-hourly train services to Yate and hourly services on a reopened Henbury Line with two new stations at North Filton and Henbury. New station at Ashley Down.

Costs: Estimated: £42.3m. We anticipate that Phase 2 would be funded by local councils and from 2021 by the Department for Transport’s devolved major scheme funding with additional funding for development costs from the Local Growth Fund.

Below map, which shows the MetroWest scheme at its fullest and as originally conceived, courtesy Railfuture Severnside:




Nickk   17/07/2015 at 14:26

Why not extend the Weston-SM / Parkway service by reversing straight across the "triangle" to Henbury? This would provide a useful feeder to and from the London & Wales trains especially for the many commuters to Filton. Even better if a half-hourly service, carefully timed to make the connections.

Nonsuchmike   17/07/2015 at 17:48

This must be the most pathetic excuse we have heard since somebody said that it was impossible to link up HS1 with HS2. The people of greater Bristol are crying out for the Henbury loop and they should get it. Are those selfish businesses @ Avonmouth fearful of giving up daytime freight slots? Or of having to build bridges for their lorries? Clearly this calls for somebody with sense who can schedule; ask a Deputy Head Teacher and they will say that accommodating virtually everybody takes time, ingenuity and patience. My suggestion would be that only 1/3 of routes have to reverse @ Templemeads. Other services bypass it by looping around St Phillips Marsh and out to Portishead, or travel straight through BTM also to Portishead or Weston. All this in addition to the route to Parkway and Gloucester. Not being a station guru, but concentrating on more rails on the ground, I cannot see why some (but not all) of the proposed new stations should not be postponed until after the loop is complete and a service running.

Lutz   21/07/2015 at 02:37

Hard to see how an extra 8,000 passengers per year can be construed as a substantial demand for the service in a city the size of Bristol. Clearly the loop is not required, and there is not the demand for it.

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