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26.09.14

Preliminary MetroWest rail project plans receive approval

Plans to develop regular shuttle rail services in the Bath and Bristol area – with stations at Saltford and Corsham – have moved a step closer to becoming reality. 

It now has both government funding and planning approval. 

Phase one of the MetroWest programme, which is estimated to cost £55.4m, would involve a half-hourly service from Bath to Bristol, via a new station at Saltford. 

MetroWest would also involve the creation of a new crossover at Bathampton to facilitate turning trains back to Bath Spa. And the Liberal Democrats running Bath and North East Somerset Council want to use that to create an east of Bath ‘Park and Rail’ facility. 

The project is being led by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, with the support of Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol City, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils. 

Following a meeting of the West of England Partnership in Bath recently, phase one of the MetroWest project has been given the green light to progress to the next planning stage – where more detailed plans will be drawn up. 

The preliminary business care report put forward at the meeting said: “MetroWest Phase One has a clear business strategy and is closely aligned with the strategic aims and responsibilities of the four West of England authorities, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Network Rail and provides a tangibly integrated approach to the travelling public by providing the basis for a truly ‘Metro’ level of service for West of England local rail network, alongside the substantial investment in the long distance rail routes to and from the West of England.” 

Cllr Brian Allinson, chairman of the West of England Joint Transport Board, added that the report, which includes more than 400 pages of technical information, is good news. 

“It shows that our costs are pretty much as expected,” he said. “And it shows that we can run services on the line without causing problems for existing services into Temple Meads.” 

In July this year, business secretary Vince Cable MP announced that £56.6m was being made available for the MetroWest project (phases one and two) by Westminster. Work on the new stations and sections of railway line needed for phase one are scheduled to begin in 2017, with a completion date of 2019. 

Commenting on the latest news, the Lib Dem candidate for Bath, Steve Bradley, said: “MetroWest will be a game-changer for Bath’s transport. At a regional level it will provide a more regular service to and from Bristol city centre and beyond. 

“And at a local level it will enable the creation of an east of BathPark and Rail facility at Bathampton, with a four minute shuttle trip into Bath Spa.” 

Phase two of MetroWest is currently scheduled for completion by 2021, and includes a further extension of the Bath line eastwards towards Westbury and Chippenham, with a new station at Corsham. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com 

Comments

Nonsuchmike   26/09/2014 at 17:44

Yes to all of this. What about new chords @ Bradford, Bathampton and Thingley so as to make a fantastic loop serving the community in that area as well as Bath and Bristol? The Henbury loop passenger line north and west of Bristol seems to have gone very cold lately. Roll on the next Parliament who will be more sympathetic.

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