Better train services signalled for Bath commuters as MetroWest rail project is extended

June 25, 2020

More frequent train services in the Bath area are a step closer following the expansion of a major project aimed at improving rail links and easing overcrowding across the West of England.

The MetroWest scheme proposed by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) – which includes Bath & North East Somerset Council – had initially been centred on services around Bristol. 

But following a meeting of WECA last week, its scope has been widened to improve services between Bath and Westbury – a route that takes in the commuter towns of Trowbridge and Bradford on Avon and which often suffers from overcrowding.

WECA said the Westbury extension was “expected to provide a better mix of local and regional train services, addressing overcrowding issues and making better use of trains and train crews”.

At present an average of 44 trains a day links Bath Spa and Westbury stations with an average journey time of 29 minutes – even though the stations are just 10 miles apart.

Boosting Bath-Westbury services would form a third phase of MetroWest. The first two include improving services between Bath and Bristol and on the line between Bristol and Severn Beach along with reopening the Bristol-Portishead line to passenger trains.

Phase two involves reopening the Henbury line in north Bristol and increasing services between Bristol Temple Meads and Yate.

WECA said further work was now required to ascertain the cost and timescales of extending MetroWest to Westbury as well as widening it to Gloucester.

Once these have been confirmed the proposals to extend the lines would then formally become part of the MetroWest project, WECA said.

West of England Metro Mayor Tim Bowles added: “The new MetroWest rail network is going to get our region and its economy moving. It will help create jobs, connect our communities and create more than 1m new journeys on our railway network each year.

“It will also help us cut carbon emissions, ease congestion and improve our region’s air quality. So I’m very pleased that by extending services to Westbury and Gloucester we will give even more residents see those benefits that I know they have been calling for.”

Network Rail Western route director Mike Gallop described the move as a very welcome step towards delivering enhanced rail services for passengers in and around Bristol.

“Our work with WECA and local authorities to deliver MetroWest will help to transform the suburban rail network. It will bring new communities together by offering a choice of rail, rather than road, and it will help to support growth,” he said.

“It’s good news for passengers and for the economy too.”

Once completed, MetroWest will connect an additional 80,000 residents directly to the national rail network.


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