|158 762 bearing First Transpennine livery at Gloucester on 16 March 2007. The appearance of these markings in Gloucestershire indicated both the takeover of the former Wessex franchise by First Great Western and the displacement of Class 158 units by Class 185 Desirio diesel hydraulic multiple units on Trans Pennine duties.|
|Gloucestershire Transport History is proud to be associated with the Severnside Branch of Railfuture, formerly known as The Railway Development Society Limited, a not for profit Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England and Wales as number 5011634 with its registered Office at 24 Chedworth Place, Tattingstone, Suffolk IP9 2ND.As ever, Railfuture Severnside has been campaigning on a range of regional issues and courtesy of its Secretary, Nigel Bray, here is some of the correspondence recently involved.|
|CUSTOMER INFORMATION SYSTEMS|
|A northbound First Great Western HST led by MTU engined 43017 at Cheltenham Spa on 16 July 2009|
|From:68 Gurney Avenue,Tuffley,GLOUCESTER
Mr. Mark Hopwood,
First Great Western,
1 Milford Street,
7 September 2010
Dear Mr. Hopwood,
Customer Information Systems
Railfuture is aware that one reason for resistance to travelling by rail is the fear of getting on the wrong train. With this in mind I am writing to ask whether First Great Western intends to replace the unsatisfactory customer information system it inherited from Wessex Trains at major stations such as Gloucester, Cheltenham, Westbury and Weston-super-Mare.
Project Inform, a legacy of Wessex Trains, was first introduced by Wales & West Passenger Trains in 1997 / 98. Whilst it provided real time customer information at unstaffed stations which hitherto had none, it has proved unsuitable for larger stations. This system has special difficulty in reacting to platform changes, which are fairly common at Gloucester, and to trains arriving at a station out of sequence, which often occur at Cheltenham, particularly when Cross Country services are delayed. It is not unusual at Gloucester for trains to be announced as running late but which arrive on time. I have heard anecdotally that Project Inform has a tendency to miss out TRUST reporting points. All things considered, it is an inferior system to that installed by FGW at Reading, Swindon and the two main Bristol stations.
On Sunday 5 September I was at Cheltenham awaiting the 16.33 FGW service to Swindon. Although the 16.18 Arriva Trains Wales train to Cardiff had departed (about five minutes late), the tape made two announcements that this ATW service would be the next to arrive at Platform 1. The system then announced that the 16.25 XC train to Bristol would be the next arrival but almost immediately afterwards the 16.33 entered the platform. Some intending passengers were confused and asked the Train Manager whether that was the Bristol train. Instances like this occur fairly frequently, although in many cases the station staff at Cheltenham and Gloucester have been able to override the tape and make live announcements giving correct information. It does seem that the staff at these former Wessex stations are having to bail out an information system which is unequal to the task.
The Project Inform scripts are often riddled with superfluous words, most notably in an excruciating 24-word explanation of a request stop. In 2006 at a Railfuture meeting, FGW’s then Regional Manager, Severn & Solent referred to FGW having inherited “a rag bag of information systems which don’t all work in the same way”. Four years on, Cheltenham, Gloucester and other ex Wessex stations are still saddled with an information system which was never fit for purpose and is ripe for replacement. If funding is not available for a new system across the FGW network, an extension of the system currently used at the original FGW stations to serve those inherited from Wessex would be most welcome.
Hon. Secretary, Railfuture Severnside.
Reply from Mark Hopwood, 22 September 2010:
“Thank you for your letter regarding our Customer Information System. As you know, the system we inherited when we took over the Greater Western franchise is old and unreliable. It is simply no longer capable of processing the increasing amount of information passed through it and as a result, failures have been frequent.
We know how important it is that we are providing our customers with timely and accurate information. I agree with you that mistakes can really knock our customers’ confidence and this is something we are very keen to eradicate.
You will be pleased to know we are currently well underway with a multi million pound project to replace the entire system. This means we will be providing a new Customer Information System at approximately half our stations. In addition, all stations will have a new help point on every platform, providing telephone access to both the emergency services and National Rail Enquiries.
We are not only replacing the equipment but we are looking at the way we provide information as a whole. A significant part of this is the improvements we are making to the way we communicate with Network Rail, meaning information gets to where it is needed much more quickly, especially during disruption. We are also looking at the content of our announcements and explanations to ensure that they are clear.
My team and I are really looking forward to the positive changes this work will bring. We know that information provision is currently an area that lets us down, but with a new system and a more proactive approach, I am confident we can really excel. I trust you will start to notice the improvements as the project progresses. In the meantime do feel free to contact me with feedback.”
(Note: The new announcing system was introduced at Cheltenham in October 2011 and at Gloucester in December 2011.)
|EWS liveried 66 118 hurried a rake of part desert camouflaged Warrior personnel carriers north over the Barnwood By-Pass Bridge in September 2004.|
|Please reply to:Mr. N. Bray,Severnside Branch Secretary,
68 Gurney Avenue,
Tel. 01452 501986.
23 August 2011.
Gloucester City Council
Gloucester City Vision and City Plan Scope Consultations
Railfuture welcomes the specific policies for air quality (page 4 of the Consultation booklet) and green transport options including more regular train services (page 7). We see the improvement of public transport as crucial to maintaining a good environment and reducing the UK’s reliance on imported oil. Some detailed suggestions are set out in our response to the City Plan below. We would like to see Gloucester’s railways electrified to follow the current scheme to electrify the main lines between London, Bristol and Cardiff. We strongly support the doubling of the line between Kemble and Swindon, on which work is due to start in 2012. All these projects will encourage greater use of the the rail network serving the city.
The projected growth of Gloucester’s population (page 4) makes it particularly important that dependency on car use is reduced and air quality is improved. . Some major centres of employment such as Gloucester Business Park are a considerable distance from existing railways so there is a need for better interchange between trains and buses. In the longer term there is a case for a light rail system as has been promoted by the University of Gloucestershire.
Railfuture Severnside would like the City Plan to develop improvements to public transport, with a view to more convenient interchange between trains and buses at Gloucester station. We believe there is a case for additional railway stations within the city but this must not result in any downgrading of the existing station. Train services would need to be coordinated to maximise connections and journey opportunities if Gloucester does acquire two or more stations.
Areas of Existing Development Opportunity
1. Area 12 (Kings Square and Bus Station) is part of the main pedestrian route between Gloucester railway station, the bus station and Clarence Street bus stops. Unfortunately this involves crossing Bruton Way which has traffic lights that are slow to change in favour of pedestrians. This situation increases the risk that bus passengers will miss trains or vice versa and it is more acute in the evenings and on Sundays when public transport is less frequent. It is very frustrating that many bus routes pass in front of the railway station along Bruton Way without stopping.
Railfuture would like the City Plan to examine ways of making physical interchange between buses and trains easier. This would be a green transport solution resulting in less dependence on using cars to reach trains and helping to improve air quality in the city centre. Gloucestershire’s Local Transport Plan 3 had a proposal to rebuild the bus station. We would like the City Council to examine the case for a pedestrian bridge between the bus and rail stations as part of a public transport hub.
2. Area 14 (Railway Corridor) has been suggested as a site for a new railway station. Our view is that this could not replace the existing station, which is much better placed for the city centre and docks, has generous track and platform capacity and, most crucially, can handle trains from all the routes serving Gloucester. Tourism is so important for the city’s economy that the main station needs to be close to the areas visitors come to see.
A new station on the eastern face of the Railway Triangle could not serve trains to or from South Wales, including London- Swansea services which call at Gloucester when they are diverted. If there were to be an additional station along the Railway Corridor, it would be better sited on or just north of the junction at Barnwood, to enable it to serve more of the city’s rail routes and some major centres of employment such as Birds Eye Walls.
3. Area 21 (Land east of Waterwells) is adjacent to the main railway line towards Bristol and London. The LTP3 proposed a new station at Hunts Grove to serve Kingsway and Quedgeley. Railfuture would like the City Council to reserve land for a station in this vicinity because it would serve an area of growing population and industry. Quedgeley was developed as a low density, car orientated settlement when there was less concern about diminishing reserves of oil. Opening a station at Hunts Grove could help reduce the dependence of Quedgeley on petrol- based transport and in turn help air quality.
|BUSWAY TRANSPORT AND WORKS|
|Bristol built 1940 vintage Peckett 0-6-0ST “Henbury” on the Bristol Harbour Railway|
|Please reply to:Mr. N. Bray,Severnside Branch Secretary,68 Gurney Avenue,Tuffley,GLOUCESTERGL4 0HN.
Tel. 01452 501986
19 April 2012
Mr. Graham Groom,
RH12 1QJ. y/r OBJ 177.
Dear Mr. Groom,
Proof of Evidence for Ashton Vale to Temple Meads TWA Application
Railfuture opposes this Transport & Works Application on the following grounds:
1. The proposed busway would isolate the Bristol Harbour Railway from the national rail network at Ashton Junction and prevent it from having any future role in public transport for the Greater Bristol conurbation.
2. The BRT scheme is outdated because it was conceived during a period when the then Secretary of State for Transport encouraged local authorities to seek Central Government funding for bus, but not for rail, projects.
3. Rail is a more energy efficient mode than bus because less energy is required to move steel wheels on steel rails than rubber tyres on concrete.
Our evidence to support the three above contentions is as follows:
1. The TWA would waste the potential of the Bristol Harbour Railway
Although currently operating only as a weekend tourist attraction, the Harbour Railway has the potential to link existing and proposed heavy rail lines with Bristol’s waterfront and commercial centre. It extends westwards to the existing Portbury freight line at Ashton Junction, although this connection is disused. However, the scheme to upgrade the Portbury line to enable passenger trains to run to Portishead is a high priority of the West of England Partnership (WEP) and has reached Network Rail’s GRIP3 (Option Selection) stage of development.
Bristol City Council has said that if the Portishead line is reopened, it would want to see a station at Ashton Gate. A logical further development of the Portishead rail project would be to provide an interchange at Ashton Gate between the Portishead line and the Harbour Railway. A regular daily passenger service over the Harbour Railway might be best achieved by using tram trains as have been proposed by the Department for Transport for the Sheffield- Rotherham area. Tram trains are able to use existing heavy rail lines, including those carrying freight and longer distance passenger services, as well as street running on light rail tracks. Bristol currently has no light rail system but the Harbour Railway offers a solution to the problem of getting rail closer to the heart of Bristol than Temple Meads station.
2. BRT has been overtaken by events
Railfuture believes that the BRT network proposed for Bristol resulted from a policy decision made c. 2003 by the then Secretary of State for Transport (Alistair Darling) which forbade local authorities from including rail projects in new bids for DfT funding. Many transport authorities including the WEP were effectively forced to limit their aspirations to enhancement of bus networks, despite the success of recent rail schemes in attracting very substantial numbers of passengers from cars. High levels of modal switch from car to tram had been recorded in Croydon and the West Midlands. Over 40 % of passengers on the Robin Hood Line, Nottinghamshire and on a direct Cambridge- Norwich train service were found to be former car users, new to rail (Ref. 1).
A new system of assessing transport projects seeking Central Government funding was introduced in 2004. This was the New Approach to Transport Appraisal (NATA), which unfortunately treated modal shift away from cars as a disbenefit because the Treasury would lose revenue from fuel duty. This made it much more difficult for rail projects to win Government approval, precisely because they were more likely to reduce road traffic. Although this perverse incentive was removed in 2009 and NATA has now been superseded, its existence over five year period is arguably a major reason why WEP and many other local authorities were unable to progress plans to enhance local rail networks until recently and developed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) instead. More recently the Minister for Local Transport (Norman Baker) has commented, in announcing a review of light rail costs, “My sense is that people will transfer from cars to a track more easily than to a bus. It is easier to get people onto a tram or train than it is to get them on to a bus. Therefore if we’re going to get modal shift in our town centres then light rail has got to be considered in that mix.” (Ref. 2).
The previous Government also cancelled a number of urban light rail schemes, including one proposed for Bristol, in 2005 on the grounds of cost escalation. At the same time the Secretary of State told the local authorities concerned that he would look more favourably on bus rapid transit proposals. Also in 2005 he approved the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway, which was to involve destruction of a mothballed railway. The busway opened in 2011 at a cost of £180m, over two years late and 60 % over budget. Its construction has consumed so much public money that Cambridgeshire County Council has slashed bus subsidies and its Cabinet member for Enterprise has defended the bus service reductions by saying that “Buses are not necessarily the best way to get people around and they are not the way forward for us.” (Ref. 3).
A more favourable attitude to rail emerged in 2007 with the Government’s White Paper, Delivering a Sustainable Railway, which noted that rail usage in Bristol had increased by 75 % between 1995 /96 and 2004 / 05, a much higher percentage than for other UK cities of similar importance. In 2009 the then Secretary of State (Lord Adonis) approved electrification plans for the Great Western main lines to Bristol and South Wales, which were confirmed by the present Coalition Government. Light rail is now regarded by the Government as more viable following the publication of its paper, Green Light for Light Rail, which discusses ways of delivering schemes at a lower cost (Ref. 4).
Local heavy rail in the Bristol area has seen a renaissance in recent years, with Bristol suburban stations recording the largest annual increases in usage across the South West Region (Ref. 5). The Severn Beach line has experienced a 90 % rise in passenger numbers between 2007 and 2011, due largely to Bristol City Council’s decision to underwrite a more frequent service since 2008 (Ref. 6). Given the growing popularity of local rail travel and a more pro-rail outlook from Central Government, it is hard not to escape the conclusion that BRT was the product of an era which has been overtaken by events. Indeed WEP now has commendable proposals for the local rail system including the Greater Bristol Metro scheme and the Portishead line. All this brings into question the wisdom of proposing expensive infrastructure for buses when it is the local rail services which have demonstrated remarkable growth in demand. It would be more prudent to protect railways which can be reopened and developed, not concrete them over.
3. Rail is a more energy efficient mode than BRT
A busway is an unwise use of a rail corridor because buses are less fuel efficient than trains. According to Local Transport Today, a light rail train running on steel rails requires one third of the energy required to move a bus on a concrete road (Ref. 7). This is because of the greater friction involved between rubber tyres and concrete than with steel on steel. Professor Rod Smith of Imperial College, London has estimated even greater differences in the relative energy efficiency of road and rail passenger vehicles, claiming the typical energy use in Kilowatt hours per 100 Passenger-kilometres, assuming the vehicles are full, to be:
Car 68, Bus 34, Commuter train 1.6, Tube train 4.4, InterCity electric train 3.0, InterCity diesel train 6.0. (Ref. 8).
Prof. Smith acknowledges that in the case of electric traction, a considerable amount of energy is used in generation, transmission and distribution but the contrast between electric trains and buses remains very substantial. Rail networks can be electrified whereas the greenest fuel available for buses is bio-diesel, which would still have to be imported. WEP has acknowledged that oil reserves are likely to peak and that transport systems must build in resilience to take account of Peak Oil (Ref. 9). A rail solution is more likely to help reduce the UK’s dependence on imported oil.
We are not convinced that BRT2 is necessary even for the efficient running of the bus services which would be diverted onto it. Cumberland Road, which runs parallel with the Harbour Railway, is not congested and could accommodate a higher frequency of buses. The prospect of double decker buses running at speed over the inset tracks of the Harbour Railway is not likely to improve the amenity of the area. If we wish the Harbour (and particularly Princes Wharf ) to remain attractive to visitors, it would be better to have tram trains running on the railway and buses in Cumberland Road.
1. N. Bradbury, The Case for Rail, Railfuture, 2004.
2. Modern Railways, September 2010, p.52.
3. Cambridge Evening News website, 21.7.2011.
4. Modern Railways, November 2011.
5. Office of Rail Regulation Station Usage Files show footfall at each station from 2003 / 04 to 2010 /11.
6. Association of Train Operating Companies, quoted in Today’s Railways UK, October 2011.
7. Local Transport Today 360, 19/2/2003.
8. Modern Railways, September 2010, p.51.
9. Revised Draft Joint Local Transport Plan 3, paras. 6.1.8, 6.1.9, West of England Partnership, July 2010
|From:68 Gurney Avenue,Tuffley,GLOUCESTER,GL4 0HN
Spatial Planning Team,
South Gloucestershire Council,
PO Box 2081,
Originally submitted on 29 July 2010, updated for the public examination on 27 June 2012 as indicated in italics below.
South Gloucestershire Core Strategy Consultation
All the following comments relate to Section 7 of the Draft Core Strategy, “Tackling Congestion and Improving Accessibility”. We welcome the Council’s policy to enhance travel to significant destinations without the use of a car and the statement that disused railway land will be safeguarded for possible future use by passenger and / or freight trains.
Following the concerns raised over the sale of the Henbury station site in 2008, we are very pleased that a site there is shown as safeguarded on the map (Fig. 2). Even if the designated site is the same one which was sold, it can be protected by ensuring that no planning permission is given for a change of use which would prevent the station from reopening. We understand that this approach is being adopted by Somerset County Council following the recent sale of land adjoining the former Chard Junction station.
Reopening of the Henbury loop line to passengers as part of an enhanced rail network for the Greater Bristol area would complement existing passenger lines. This line passes very close to Bristol Airbus, Filton Airfield, Filton College and Rolls Royce. It also has the potential to serve the Cribbs Causeway retail complex. Projected housing at Catbrain would also be near the line. There is a strong case for safeguarding additional station sites, nearer to these existing or projected sources of traffic, including the former North Filton platform and at Charlton Common, west of Charlton tunnel.
We are pleased that Fig. 2 includes a safeguarded station site at Charfield. Reopening of this station has long been sought and would provide fast public transport to Bristol, Filton, Yate and Gloucester, thereby increasing access to employment and specialist services for people living in a wide rural area.
Greater Bristol Metro scheme
Railfuture welcomes the Council’s support for this proposed expansion of train services in the West of England Partnership area. Among the stations which would be served by the Metro network is Keynsham, which although just outside South Gloucestershire, is well placed to serve localities such as Bitton and Longwell Green. We strongly support the enhancements in recent years to train services at Keynsham and the lengthening of the station platforms. We believe it could play a greater role for both local and long distance travel from the south eastern Bristol fringes.
Patchway station, also involved in the Metro scheme, is adjacent to Rolls Royce and has regular trains to South Wales. Although facilities at the station are basic, it enjoys CCTV surveillance as a result of alterations to a camera on the Rolls Royce premises which now focuses on the platforms also.
We note that Pilning station ( pictured above) is identified on the map as a Metro station, although its current service of one train, Saturdays Only, is practically useless. The service had been one train each way, Mondays to Saturdays for many years and this had been little used because the timings did not suit normal office hours in Bristol. We are not aware of any proposal to close the station and believe it would be more sensible to at least consider stopping two or three trains in each direction to test the market for peak hour travel to / from Bristol, Filton and South Wales. Whilst a regular train service into Bristol is available from Severn Beach, a basic service at Pilning would link the area more directly with South Wales as was the case in the 1970s.
The Bristol- Severn Beach line has enjoyed an enhanced service, including Sunday trains to Severn Beach, thanks to a three year subsidy from Bristol City Council to underwrite the provision of an additional train set. Railfuture supports the improved timetable this has made possible and which has resulted in substantially increased usage of the line.
Figures released by the Office of Rail Regulation show an increase in passengers at Severn Beach from 38,202 in 2006 /07 to 74,712 in 2008 / 09 and 113,480 in 2010 / 11. This was on a line which was being written off in some quarters a few years ago.
Although Yate would be the northern terminus of the Metro network in the Regional Funding Advice bid, we see a strong case for extending it to Thornbury in the medium term via the currently freight only Tytherington branch line. First Great Western is believed to be interested in operating to Thornbury as part of a cross- Bristol network, subject to funding and availability of rolling stock. The arrival of new Class 172 trains in the West Midlands in 2011 released older stock, some of which is now leased by FGW for Bristol area services but GW main line electrification will release more modern diesel trains from the London area which could provide a better passenger environment in the Greater Bristol area.
Railfuture is strongly in favour of four tracking the two track stretch of main line through between Filton Abbey Wood and Dr. Day’s Junction, Bristol. This was viewed favourably by Network Rail’s Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy published in March 2010 and would allow segregation of long distance and local trains through the congested North Bristol rail corridor.
Safeguarding of dismantled railway formations
The lines via Mangotsfield were closed in 1969-71 when retrenchment on the railways was the order of the day and there were few concerns about road traffic pollution or world oil reserves. Since then there has been a significant growth in population of the north eastern fringes of Bristol and a greater awareness that the UK needs to reduce its dependency on imported fuel. The Bristol- Mangotsfield- Westerleigh / Oldland Common routes could be reinstated for light or heavy rail when funding permits and, unlike the proposed Bus Rapid Transit, could be electrified. The cycleway could be retained or if necessary realigned, as was done with the 2010 rebuilding of the Airdrie- Bathgate railway where the formation had been used as a cycleway for many years. It should be possible to rectify the encroachment of the A4174 Ring Road on the trackbed in the Shortwood area by reserving a strip of land alongside the road for eventual reinstatement of a railway.
Safeguarding of station sites on existing lines
Mrs. Christina Biggs (Secretary of Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways) has spoken of the need to protect sites for stations at Winterbourne, Coalpit Heath and Chipping Sodbury. Official forecasts of the usage of reopened lines and stations have proved to be wildly underestimated, for instance the original estimate for Stirling- Alloa was 85,000 passengers per year but the actual number is 440,000. This and the large increase in usage of local stations in the Bristol area augur very well for reopening more stations in South Gloucestershire.
|GLOUCESTER STATION FOOTBRIDGE|
|From: Nigel Bray[mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Sent: 29 June 2012 10:44To: Brian Welch,Cities & Regions Manager at the Department for Transport
Subject: Station Footbridges.Brian, I’m not sure whether this comes within your remit but, if not perhaps you could bring to the attention of the appropriate person.This week a new footbridge came into use at Gloucester station. It will soon have lifts added as part of the Access for All programme to provide step-free access at stations. The new footbridge has many good features including wider staircases than those of its predecessor; non-slip surfaces and windows on the span. Yet curiously, it lacks a roof. BBC Radio Gloucestershire queried this with First Great Western, who replied that it had asked for a roof but had been told by Network Rail that the AfA scheme only provided “like for like” replacement of footbridges.It was an anomaly that the previous footbridge was not covered. Gloucester is a busy station with a footfall of 1.2m passengers in 2010 / 11 according to ORR Station Usage data. This is far higher than, for instance, Stroud (448,000 passengers in the same year) and Kemble (340,000), which both have covered footbridges. The situation at Gloucester arose when the city’s Eastgate station closed in 1975 and all trains were concentrated on the present station, formerly known as Gloucester Central. At that time it was possible to accommodate all passenger trains at one very long platform (Platforms 1 and 2) and a west facing bay (Platform 3). The present Platform 4 was by then used only by mail and parcels trains so no footbridge was required.The growth in local and regional passenger services resulted in Platform 4 being reinstated as a passenger platform in 1984. A footbridge was therefore built but was not roofed. I understand that it was B.R. policy at the time not to cover new footbridges and this was continued by Railtrack and Network Rail. It could be argued that “like for like” replacement of the Gloucester footbridge would recognise that both Central and Eastgate stations had covered footbridges prior to the closure of the latter station and indeed there was also a covered footbridge between the two stations.If there is to be selectivity in the entitlement of stations to covered footbridges, the criteria ought to be the volume of passengers based on ORR data; and average rainfall in the locality. Gloucester receives relatively high rainfall and, because it has the UK ‘s longest station platform (Platforms 1 and 2 together are 659 yards long), passengers are likely to be more exposed to the elements than at most rail stations.I hope these points can be brought to Network Rail’s attention so that it might reconsider its criteria for footbridge replacement.
From: Brian Welch Brian.Welch@dft.gsi.gov.uk
This in not one for me I’m afraid. I have passed your e-mail on, so I trust you may hear from Neil Priest in due course.
Nigel further informs me that Mr. Welch passed his email to Mr. Mark Livock of the National Station Improvement Programme.