The promoters of the MetroWest programme intend to develop half-hourly services through central Bristol that will also serve the surrounding West of England region. They also aim to restore the Portishead and Henbury lines, and to reopen stations at Portishead, Pill, Henbury, North Filton and Ashley Down. Other station reopenings are being considered (see below).
The MetroWest programme has two phases:
MetroWest Phase 1
Phase 1a Upgrade Severn Beach – Bristol to a half-hourly service, and extend the route from Bristol to Bath Spa and Westbury.
Phase 1b Reopen Bristol – Portishead line with an hourly passenger service.
MetroWest Phase 2
Upgrade Bristol to Yate to a half-hourly service and possibly extend beyond Yate to Gloucester, serving a restored station at Charfield, between Yate and Cam & Dursley.
Reopen the Bristol – Henbury line with an hourly service.
Source: MetroWest – Update and funding decision – West of England Joint Committee (pdf—June 2019)
Official maps of the MetroWest network are Bristol-centric and poorly executed (example). The following map, published by Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways (FoSBR), is significantly better.
Original map published by Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence. Reopen is a nonprofit venture and is not affiliated with FoSBR.WECA and its partners are still assessing the merits of reinstating passenger services over the Thornbury line and the Henbury to St Andrews Road stretch of the Henbury Loop, plus the reopening or opening of 13 stations – see list below.
Henbury Loop line
This six mile line is a former passenger railway, now a freight route serving Avonmouth Docks, that runs from the Filton junctions to St Andrews Road station, where it joins the Severn Beach line to form a loop. There were stations at North Filton Platform, Charlton Halt, Henbury, Hallen Halt, and Chittening Platform.
Despite a sustained campaign by Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways and other parties to restore passenger services across the entire line, the reopened line forming part of the MetroWest network will be spur from the Filton junctions extending only as far as Henbury, with an intermediate station at North Filton to support new residential and commercial development at the site of the former Filton airfield.
Reopening of the line from Parson Street to Portishead is going ahead as Phase 1b of the MetroWest programme. The scheme is now fully funded and proceeding through the Development Consent Order process, which has been delayed by about four months due to Covid-19.
This was a 7.5 mile branch line from Yate to Thornbury, which is now in South Gloucestershire. There were intermediate stations at Iron Acton and Tytherington. The line closed to passengers in 1944. It was designated ‘Out of Use (temporary)’ by Network Rail from 2013 until 2017, when it reopened to serve Tytherington quarry again.
The trackbed is relatively unobstructed from Grovesend on the A38 as far as the south eastern side of Midland Way, where it is covered by a housing estate. The alignment reappears as a linear park that ends at Midland Way close to an industrial estate, with Tesco and its car park beyond.
A proposal to reopen the line submitted by Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways has been rejected on the following grounds:
- Any new station would be too remote from Thornbury town centre.
- The condition of Grovesend tunnel is unknown
- Capacity constraints at Westerleigh Junction.
© OpenStreetMap contributors | OpenStreetMap copyright noticeRead more about the Thornbury line
Ashley Down (note: not Ashley Hill)
MetroWest Branch line (MetroWest Phase 1) Project Scoping Report, June 2015, prepared by CHM2 HILL United Kingdom (now Jacobs Engineering Group) for North Somerset Council (pdf).
MetroWest Latest News – Travelwest (most recent item August 2020)
MetroWest plans extended to Gloucester and Westbury, on Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways website (June 2020)