On Track: Dave Wood's column on railways
THE campaign to re-open the passenger line to Portishead was just a few years ago a dream. But now we look like we are just a couple of years away from the tracks into the town being relaid and trains running again.
It will completely transform travel to and from Portishead and ease congestion on the roads.
But Portishead is not the only town which could benefit from its railway link being reinstated.
I believe we should also look at the line to Clevedon.
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This three-and-a-half mile branch was opened in July 1847 and was originally part of the Bristol and Exeter Railway.
It originally had Brunel's broad gauge tracks that were seven feet wide. At its busiest there were 15 trains a day between Yatton and Clevedon. By 1964 it had lost its goods traffic and had been reduced to a single track and in October 1966 under British Railways' ownership it finally closed.
The track was lifted soon afterwards and since then houses have been built across parts of the line, not to mention the M5. But I believe a route could be found to re-open the line to a station on the Yatton side of the motorway.
When the Clevedon branch line was built it operated from a bay platform at Yatton. This platform would now not be needed. Instead the branch line could feed onto the main line and trains could use the present day platforms.
Passengers for Weston-super- Mare could catch a connection to the West Country, while other passengers could go on to Bristol Temple Mead.
I believe a feasibility study should be undertaken of the possible route. To the best of my knowledge a lot of the track bed up to the M5 is still in place.
Obviously the practicality of this would need to be investigated.
On the other side of the M5 a short section of the original towards Clevedon is still in place.
I think this could be turned into a cycle path or footpath linking Clevedon with a new footbridge across the M5 and providing a direct link to a new railway station.
This would ensure that Clevedon would be once more connected to the national railway network.
And although the town does not have the acute problems with commuter traffic that hampers Portishead this link would provide people with an alternative of driving to and from their homes each day. It may sound fanciful but not long ago people were saying the same thing about re-opening the line from Bristol to Portishead.
David Wood, Rail Maritime and Transport Union, Bristol
Written in a personal capacity