If more trains called, more people would use them
IT appears there is little scope for enhancements to rail services, capacity, rolling stock and passenger facilities during the two-year extension granted to the First Great Western franchise.
This is frustrating because I can think of a string of issues that need tackling.
Bedminster and Parson Street both have a limited number of trains serving them.
Dawn Primarolo, MP for South Bristol whose constituency takes in these stations, recently wrote a column in this paper highlighting this issue.
FREE home energy survey - BEAT THE ENERGY PRICE CRUNCH!View details
Call us on 01271 323309 and book your FREE home energy survey during December. Let us help you reduce your energy bills as well as your carbon footprint.
Valid until 20th Dec 2013
Consultation is completely free
No obligation and impartial advice
Contact: 01271 440974
Valid until: Friday, December 20 2013
She made the point that given the poor frequency of trains it was not surprising that relatively few local residents used the existing rail services.
But if more trains called at these stations more people would use them. And the increases do not need to be great.
First Great Western need to consider filling in existing gaps weekdays.
I think three semi-fast north-bound services could stop at Bedminster and Parson Street with no detriment to the timetable.
The West of England Partnership has asked the Department for Transport on behalf of the Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways that the 9.45, the 19.10 from Weston-super-Mare and the 16.07 from Taunton call at these stations.
This was later put into a formal request for the December timetable 2013.
Both of these stations are currently under-utilised and I understand mayor George Ferguson and assistant mayor Mark Bradshaw are making the case for further services to stop at both of them.
But increasing the number of trains calling at these stations is not the only change needed.
I believe the stations themselves need attention. They are both in a shoddy state and need some money spent on them.
Both have island platforms (these are platforms with tracks on either side).
At present only three of the four original lines are used. The down relief line was removed in the 1960s. The government of the day ordered British Rail to cut down on maintenance.
If funding was secured Network Rail could install down relief platform lines a little longer than the platforms allowing local stopping trains to enter, stop pick up or drop off passengers and then exit.
This would allow semi fast and fast trains to pass through Bedminster and Parson Street stations without being slowed down.
With the right investment Parson Street could become a major rail hub rail-bus interchange.
It would be handy for incoming Portishead trains, with a connection to Weston-super-Mare and the West Country. And it is ideally situated for a rail-bus interchange to Bristol Airport.
Rail Maritime and Transport Union
Written in a personal capacity