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Greater Bristol Metro

Greater Bristol Metro
Commercial? No
Type of project Passenger rail transport pressure group
Location Greater Bristol
Owner Bath and North East Somerset Council
Bristol City Council
North Somerset Council
South Gloucestershire Council

The Greater Bristol Metro is a proposal to improve the rail services in Bristol, England, and the surrounding region first proposed at First Great Western's Stakeholder Event in March 2008. The aim of the project is to develop half hourly services through central Bristol which will also serve the surrounding West of England region.[1] Transport campaigning group, Transport for Greater Bristol are actively supporting the proposal, [2] as are the four unitary authorities.[3][4] Earlier plans for a metro system were promoted by then MEP Richard Cottrell in 1986 and acts of Parliament were secured. This would have used existing track with new build through the city centre. However the scheme folded when Advanced Transport for Avon was wound up with debts of £3.8 million.[5]


Rail usage in the West of England doubled in the 10 years, 1999 to 2009, with existing services suffering from lack of capacity on trains leading to overcrowding and in some cases having to leave passengers behind on stations. The campaign's website was officially launched in February 2012.[4] Improvement plans have been prepared by engineering consultancy Halcrow Group.[6][7]


The Greater Bristol Metro aims to ease this congestion and to attract people who currently use cars onto the railway. Additional aims of the scheme are to support housing and employment along the rail corridors between Weston-super-Mare to Yate, and Cardiff to Bath.[1] The reported "key aspects" are:

  1. More trains, more often;
  2. Reopening disused stations;
  3. Reopening the Portishead rail line;
  4. Four tracking along a section of the local railway line
    —Greater Bristol Metro, reported in the Bristol Evening Post[4]

A network map published by the four unitary authorities on the website shows the two phases of the proposed network.[8]


The scheme was estimated to cost £22 million at 2008/09 prices and could be completed between 2016 and 2021.[3]

Station reopening costs stated in 2012 have been estimated by Bristol City Council to be an average of £5 million each.[4] Related estimates for reopening of the Portishead Railway and for four-tracking between Parson Street and Filton Bank were reported as approximately £50 million and £30 million respectively.[4] It was subsequently reported that the Portishead Railway reopening would cost around £33 million.[7]


An opinion piece in the Bristol Evening Post in June 2011 called for the establishment of an Integrated Transport Authority for the West of England and for progress on the metro proposal.[9] During the Rail Priority Conference organised by the West of England Partnership in November 2011, delegates travelled on the Portishead line, the Severn Beach line and the Henbury Loop, using sections of track not currently used for passenger traffic.[10][11] In early 2012, during the consultation phase for the new Great Western rail franchise, Bristol City Council and local rail user groups launched Bristol Metro 2013 to ask bidders to incorporate metro plans into their bids.[12] Bristol MPs have been lobbied in Westminster by Dawn Primarolo (MP for Bristol South)[13] and Steve Webb (MP for Thornbury & Yate).[14] The Saltford Station Campaign Group and Bath and North East Somerset Council suggested in April 2012 that the reopening of Saltford station could be part funded by means other than those included in the West of England Partnership's report.[15][16]


The scheme was given the go-ahead in July 2012 as part of the City Deal, whereby local councils would be given greater control over money by the government.[17] Councillor Tim Kent stated in September 2012 that the first part of the scheme, on the Severn Beach Line, would be delivered "next year".[18]


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