Park & ride on the way as railway improvements move closer

June 18 2019
Park & ride on the way as railway improvements move closer

MAJOR improvements to the area’s transport system have moved a step closer.

A total of £4 million has been approved to design and build a new park and ride for Yate, while funding has also been approved to push forward plans for half-hourly trains from Yate to Bristol and a new station at Charfield.

The schemes are part of a wider programme of transport improvements agreed by the West of England Combined Authority, comprising Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset councils.

The latest round of spending was agreed at a meeting of Weca, which is chaired by Winterbourne-based Metro Mayor Tim Bowles, on June 14. It is part of a long-term investment strategy which could see £350 million spent on transport over the next 20 years

Members had originally been asked to agree £500,000 spending on an outline business case for park and ride locations, including Yate, tying them in with plans for mass transit and suburban rail.

But South Gloucestershire Council leader Toby Savage, pictured above (third left) with Mr Bowles, MP Luke Hall and fellow Conservatives, made a surprise announcement at the meeting that an additional £3.5m would be earmarked to develop and build a facility in Yate.

He said it was possible to make a more definitive commitment to the scheme now, adding:

We have a council-owned site already allocated for park and ride use. It has been talked about for many years.

The whole reason for coming together to create the combined authority was to make progress and deliver on these infrastructure aspirations that have been around for so many years.”

The half-hourly train service between Yate and Bristol Parkway represents a doubling of the current hourly frequency and is part of a plan to to create almost 350,000 new train journeys in the region 2021.

Part of the MetroWest suburban rail improvement project, the latest WECA decision will see £3.5m spent to develop the full business case for the new services.

The Charfield station plan would see a new station built for commuters in the north of South Gloucestershire. Weca awarded an initial £300,000 for development work on a the scheme earlier this year and has now approved a further £900,000 to complete a full business case.

West of England mayor Tim Bowles said: “MetroWest is a key part of my ambition to improve rail services in the region, giving people more sustainable transport options.

Improved and more frequent rail services will give people better access to jobs, link new homes and communities with employment areas and encourage more people to use public transport.”

Local MP Luke Hall said surveys he conducted in the area had found a Yate park and ride and a half-hourly train service were “a high priority for local people”.

Liberal Democrat group leader Claire Young also welcomed the spending but said it had been a long time coming.

Claire, pictured third right with fellow Liberal Democrats, said: "We've been campaigning for a Yate Park & Ride, improved rail services and the re-opening of Charfield station for years, so we are pleased that, two years after the creation of the combined authority, something finally seems to be happening.

We’re still a long way off work on the ground actually getting under way. The Conservatives lost their majority on WECA as a result of May’s local elections – hopefully this will be a wake-up call to Tim Bowles that he needs to start delivering.”