Photo: Matt Buck
Photo: Matt Buck

By Danielle Scregg

As each month passes by, Bristol North West Tory MP Charlotte Leslie appears closer to achieving the Henbury Loop railway line. The most recent ‘step forward’ consists of a £1.8 million funding that has been approved by George Ferguson for work to begin on the reopening lines and stations.

Back in November 2012, Ms Leslie led a cross-party delegation of city and regional MPs to meet transport minister Simon Burns to discuss the idea of the Henbury Loop. At the meeting Mr Burns pledged that The Department for Transport would carry out a feasibility study into the benefits and costs of having a full Henbury Loop line in place in order to improve the local Bristol Metro network.

Ms Leslie also launched a petition on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter which has received many supporting signatures in favour of a Henbury Loop line. She considers the Henbury Loop railway line a once-in-a-generation opportunity that will be a game changer for transport in Bristol. The old plans, presented by the West of England Partnership, were to reopen ‘spur’ to Henbury station which would mean that passenger trains could only stop there and return the way they came.

This would mean that anyone traveling by train from Shirehampton to Henbury or passengers looking for a connection from Redland or Clifton Downs to Cribbs Causeway, would need to go all the way into Bristol and out via Filton to reach their destination.

It was reported in the Bristol Post that Ms Leslie said: “Plans for mass housing development risk unacceptable congestion on north Bristol’s roads, unless a loop line is in place. The loop would also mean people in north Bristol would have easy access to workplaces in and around Avonmouth, which has recently been designated an enterprise area.”

Students at UWE think that this will be a beneficial aspect to studying, working and partying in Bristol.

UWE student Safia Yallaoui said: “I think this is a great idea because it will hopefully encourage more people to use public transport which will eliminate the thousands of cars that cause congestion on the roads. The current traffic situation is horrendous in Bristol and something like this needs to be done to sort that out. I think it will benefit many students trying to travel in and around the Bristol area. It just makes sense to create a loop rather than making the train go back the way it came.”

A track already exists as it used to be in operation up until 1964. It is currently being used to transport goods, which means that acceptance for the passenger services along with a reopened Henbury station just needs to be given permission to go ahead.

Phase one, which consists of re-opening the Portishead line to passenger services and half-hourly trains on the Severn Beach line, is expected to be completed in 2017/18.

Phase two of the Metro is not likely to be completed until 2018/21, and this is set to include a half-hourly service to Yate, the reopening of Henbury station and additional stations built at Horfield and Ashley Down.

The £1.8 million funding will contribute to the project and the rest will be funded by central government. The funding is broken down into an estimated £559,000 from rolling revenue budgets and £1.24 million part funded by the Investing in Bristol fund and local transport capital funds. It is estimated to take until 2023 for completion.