West of England project updates 1

A meeting of the West of England Joint Transport Board occurred on 29th January providing a number of updates on a number of rail enhancements in area around Bristol.

MetroWest Phase 1

Two key issues have impacted the timescales of delivery of the Portishead railway reopening.

There has been substantial opposition to the level crossing at Ashton Vale Industrial Estate. Alternative access arrangements have been proposed. Consultation on potential options including provision of a new link via the Ashton Vale park & ride junction and/or changes to the junction on Winterstoke Road will take place in February/March 2016.

The emerging designs are advising that there will be substantial construction issues and access difficulties on the operational freight line. These will be confirmed in April 2016.

The above issues have resulted in a delay in the start of the stage 2 Development Consent Order consultation. This was planned for January 2016 but is now expected to be June 2016. The proposed submission date of the DCO planning application will slip to November 2016 and the subsequent stages will delay by approximately six months. The expected opening date is now late 2019/early 2020.

There are also concerns that the resignalling project will be delayed by the reviews into Network Rail. Any delays will prevent the opening of the Portishead railway line.

The project does offer an opportunity to bring forward GRIP 4 and use that to feed into other parts of the programme. This will help remove risks from the programme.

MetroWest Phase 2

A consultation is being held on the location of Henbury railway station. It is expected to report in Summer 2016. This project will be affected by delays to the delivery of Bristol East Junction as this is necessary for phase 2. Phase 2 is ezpected to open on time in May 2021 although it was noted that the phasing funding would need to be revised because the capital funding only comes on stream on 2021/22.

Portway Park and Ride

Grip Stage 2 has been completed by Network Rail. Funding has been allocated to take the project forward to GRIP stage 3. Delivery is planned for the first half of 2019.


The local council arecawaiting the results of timetable modelling by Great Western Railway for MetroWest Phase 1, which will establish if there is capacity for an additional stop before any further work is commissioned to reopen Saltford railway station.

Ashton Gate

A petition has been presented to Bristol CC. £50k has been identified to develop the business case for Ashton Gate railway station.

Source: West of England Joint Transport Board
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Working Party formed for Skipton to Colne route

A working party has been formed following a “Do or Die” meeting between major stakeholders in the regions that the line would serve. The working party has been asked to examine east-west connectivity issues and the economic and social benefits of restoring the link through Colne and West Craven to Yorkshire.

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Five cities outline £15bn One North transport plan 1

Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle have outlined a plan to upgrade the transport infrastructure. A High Speed Link crossing the Pennines would connect Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds with the potential for it to transport road vehicles is the main project suggested.

In addition, tram train links across a number of conurbations have been suggested as has a new route from Darlington to Newcastle.

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James Cook University Hospital Officially Opened

Minister of State for Transport, Baroness Kramer, has officially opened a new £2.2m Tees Valley rail station that is vital to the area’s transport infrastructure.

Baroness Kramer named the train she arrived on – Captain James Cook, Master Mariner – and unveiled an official opening plaque to mark the development of the James Cook station behind The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, which has been achieved through a partnership involving Tees Valley Unlimited, Northern Rail, Network Rail, Middlesbrough Council and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,.

Up to 17 Northern Rail trains on the Esk Valley line call at the new stop, which has been established following a successful Local Sustainable Transport Fund bid from the Department for Transport by TVU, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Tees Valley.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “I am very pleased that we have been able to contribute £2million towards the new station at The James Cook University Hospital, which will serving staff, patients and visitors as well as enhancing the wider transport network. Good transport connections act as an engine for economic growth, and link local people to vital services.

David Robinson, TVU Board Member, said:  “The development of this station is important for Tees Valley as it provides an alternative means of access to a large employment site and surrounding developments. It also is helping to ease congestion and parking issues and improve traffic flow along one of the area’s busiest transport corridors.

“This scheme, which is part of a wider package of investment and improvements to rail transport in Tees Valley, demonstrates how partners and stakeholders are working together for the benefit of the area’s residents and organisations.”

The James Cook station investment dovetails in with a £4.5m scheme to boost rail travel that will see 11 other stations –  Allens West, Billingham, Gypsy Lane, Longbeck, Marske, Marton, Nunthorpe, Redcar Central, Redcar East, South Bank and Stockton  – receive improvements to passenger facilities.

Improvements include electronic timetabling, signage upgrades, shelters, improved lighting and seating and the installation of CCTV.

Alex Hynes, Managing Director for Northern Rail comments: “We’re delighted to celebrate the opening of our new station and welcome Baroness Kramer to the region. The development of James Cook station forms a crucial part of a wider scheme to improve rail travel in Tees Valley.

“These enhanced transport connections are important to ensure that residents and visitors to the area can access more facilities throughout the north.”

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “The new station is fantastic for the town, the hospital and our communities.

“As well as helping the area realise one of its ambitions to improve rail passenger facilities and enhance the rail network, it supports economic regeneration by improving transport links for workers and accessibility to key sites.”

Jill Moulton, director of service strategy and infrastructure at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This new rail link forms a key part of the Trust’s travel plan, which focuses on establishing alternative ways for staff, visitors and patients to reach the hospital.

“This has involved encouraging more than 300 of our staff to cycle to work and having buses coming into the complex.”

Mark Tarry, area director for Network Rail, said: “We worked hard to build and deliver this new station with the support of our partners and contractor. We delivered it in time for the new timetable and for services to start in May. We hope passengers enjoy the using the new service, which is a great alternative way to travel to the James Cook hospital site.”

The James Cook station is part of a *range of rail infrastructure investments, totalling nearly £10million and managed by TVU during the last four years.

This has been made possible by a combination of finance from the Department for Transport Major Scheme and Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF).

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LEP seeks funding for Bourne End to High Wycombe link

The Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (Bucks LEP) has applied to central government for a £30,000 grant to pay for a study into the demand and economic benefits of reopening the line between High Wycome and Bourne End.

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The bid was made to the Single Local Growth Fund and this is due to announce successful bids in July 2014.

Kirkstall Forge terms agreed

Construction of a railway station at Kirkstall Forge is set to begin after terms were agreed between Leeds City Council, the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the site owners GMV Twelve Limited. The site owners are set to invest £5 million. Final agreement is expected shortly. Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge are set to be delivered by December 2015.

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Haxby Railway Station Update

Haxby Railway Station has been put forward as a possible scheme to deliver through the Local Growth Fund as part of the Leeds City Region LEP bid. Following a Freedom of Information Request, City of York Council confirmed that they expect the results of the bid in July.

The response to the FoI request also confirmed the reasons for Haxby not gaining funding from the New Stations Fund.

  • Line Speed Improvements appears to have been the major issue
  • Schemes needed to be at GRIP3 and shovel ready, the line speed study we had done was felt only to be at GRIP 2
  • The Line Speed Improvements costings could not be signed off, accepted that York had not received a final cost from Network Rail and York could not sign off an uncosted scheme and end up picking up all costs.
  • There was no underwriting of the possible risks involved
  • Looking for fixed offer – no unknown funding sources and this was not clear – again linked to LSI
  • Confidence that the scheme could be delivered in the timescales of the scheme. Delivery was key.
  • Evidence of stakeholder engagement and support for Haxby station
  • We were advised that there had been one objection to Haxby sent directly to the DfT, NO other bids had any objections to their new stations, There were no letters of support or evidence of stakeholder engagement within the Haxby Bid
  • Car Park and impact on the locality (this was not just an issue for Haxby)
  • Land purchase issues around the allotment