The track is still in place from Yate to Grovesend on the A38. The trackbed is intact from that point as far as the south eastern side of Midland Way, where it is covered by a housing estate. It reappears as a linear park that ends at Midland Way close to an industrial estate with Tesco and its car park beyond.
Thornbury was connected to the national railway network by a branch line to Yate. Passenger services ceased in 1944 and goods traffic ceased in 1966. The line has remained in place as far as Tytherington Quarry for occasional mineral traffic but the cutting from the quarry to the tunnel under the A38 has been partly in-filled to create a level shunt for mineral trains. From the quarry to Thornbury town centre the route is mostly intact and the tunnel is in partial use for storage by the landowner. A section of the route is used as a foot/cycle path. Gardens and some houses have used part of the original alignment and the olds station site has been commercially developed.
There was considerable support in the consultation for reopening the railway line and a desire not to allow development on land which would be required in future to enable this to happen. A Joint Transport Study report produced for the JSP [Joint Spatial Plan] concludes that there is no realistic prospect of introducing new rail services to Thornbury over the period of the JSP and so there are currently no plans to undertake any further work. Within our neighbourhood plan area, it is considered important to preserve the remaining track bed in order not to reduce future options for the line. In the short to medium term consideration could be given to further development into an extended pedestrian/cycle route should further parts of the route become permanently disused.
Source: Thornbury Neighbourhood Plan – Travel, Transport and Parking, South Gloucestershire Council (pdf)
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Suggestions were made to reopen the Thornbury Branch line. However, in 2017 the West of England Combined Authority found there would be several challenges in delivering this proposal, as the former rail alignment into Thornbury is now occupied by an industrial estate and there is no practical routing into the town. The station would therefore have to be located on the edge of Thornbury at a significant distance from the town centre, making it less attractive to passengers. The Grovesend tunnel would also need to be reopened, with its current condition unknown, and there would be capacity constraints at Westerleigh Junction. This led to the Authority deciding not to pursue reopening the line. FOSBR continue to advocate reopening the line in the future. In 2020, the line was mentioned by Railway Gazette International as having potential for future funding from the Department for Transport’s “Restoring Your Railway” initiative.
Source: MetroWest (Bristol) – Wikipedia.
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.
Thornbury Railway Station, on Thornbury Roots website (includes photos and history of the line)