Dave Wood: Henbury Loop must open to passengers before 2023
I want to make a case for re-opening the Henbury Loop line to passenger trains. In my view, it has much greater potential than the Severn Beach line.
In November next year it will be half a century since the line was officially closed to passenger services.
Yet all the track infrastructure is in place, along with signalling on this six-mile stretch of line.
And passenger trains can run on this line, as was proved when Filton Abbeywood station was remodelled in 2004 and passenger trains were diverted along the Severn Beach/Henbury Loop lines for nearly three months.
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Re-opening the line would require stations to be re-opened at North Filton, Henbury and Chittening.
The British Railway Board Property Review Group sold Henbury station and the former goods yard for £750,000 at auction in 2008.
Many campaigned for the station not to be sold, including former MP Doug Naismith and the then prospective Parliamentary candidate Charlotte Leslie.
All these people could see the potential of keeping the station until it was right to re-open the Henbury Loop as a passenger line. But their protests fell on deaf ears.
Now the chickens have come home to roost. In my opinion, there is nowhere else suitable to rebuild Henbury station than its present location.
We should be considering a compulsory purchase order.
But it will be a bit more than the nominal £1 for which South Gloucestershire Council could have bought it from the British Railways Board, if only it had had the foresight.
One saving grace could be the new housing development just to the north of Henbury station.
Perhaps South Gloucestershire Council could strike a deal with the developers to rebuild the station.
It has been reported that the Henbury Loop will re-open in 2023. I really think that is too long for us to wait.
Every effort needs to be made to have passenger trains running on this line well before then.
The Department for Transport wants all lines to major ports electrified around the country.
That would include Avonmouth, with its proposed new deep-water dock.
I firmly believe the Henbury Loop line should be used for passenger trains before its planned reopening in 2023.
David Wood, Rail, Maritime and Transport Union,
Bristol. Written in a personal capacity