What we need is a new Brunel
FILTON Bank is set to be four-tracked and the re-opening of Ashley Hill* station may happen before Phase 2 of Metro West. But, despite Bristol City Council's wish to re-open both Ashley Hill and Horfield stations, Network Rail are being distinctly unco-operative, citing the need to place crossovers between fast and slow lines at the site of the old Horfield station and the usual capacity issues.
My scanning of Google earth shows plenty of room for slow to fast crossovers (heading north) between the old Horfield station at Bonnington Walk and Filton Abbey Wood back again between Filton Abbey Wood and the old Filton Station.
But if the crossovers really can't go anywhere else there is an alternative site for a station to serve Horfield and Lockleaze south of the Constable Road Bridge by an old gasworks, where the formation is surely wide enough for four tracks and platforms on the slow lines?
At the very least Network Rail should make provision for a Horfield/Lockleaze station when the four tracking and electrification goes ahead.
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As far as capacity issues are concerned, yes the existing diesel multiple units may struggle to get away twice on the 1:75 gradient, but steam managed it in the past and could reach Horfield in 15 minutes from Temple Meads with 3 stops, much quicker than the bus. In the medium term we should be looking at an electrified suburban service for Bristol, with electric multiple units that won't notice the gradient.
Re-opening both Ashley Hill and Horfield stations would mean five stations in 4½miles, but that is hardly over intensive for an urban area. There are already that many in the same distance on the Severn Beach line.
The full Henbury Loop (for services from Temple Meads via Filton to Henbury then on to Avonmouth, Clifton Down and back to Temple Meads, and vice-versa) is also in doubt, because Hallen Marsh Junction between the Henbury freight line and the existing Severn Beach passenger line is not fully signalled for passenger workings to/from the Henbury line and Network Rail are raising all sorts of complications to sort it.
Bristol has a great opportunity to revitalise its heavy rail network but some far-sighted Brunellian vision is needed to deliver the stations at Horfield and Ashley Hill, and the full Henbury loop.
Cllr Sean Emmett
Bristol City Council