June 2024: News from Metro Mayor Dan Norris

BRITAIN’S railway system is the oldest in the world; we invented the railways and introduced them to the globe. That is something to be really proud about.

And we should celebrate our region’s role in this story. Britain’s most famous engineer, Brunel, changed the face of the English landscape with his groundbreaking viaducts, bridges, and tunnels for the Great Western Railway. He set standards for a well-built railway.

Fast forward to the present day, and I’m really pleased to be able to point to some great stats about how our local railways are going full steam ahead, with more passengers than ever before.

It’s now 12 months since half-hourly services were introduced to and from Temple Meads serving Filton Abbey Wood, near Parkway, and Yate, as well as in Keynsham, Oldfield Park, Bath and elsewhere.

In that time, over 3.4 million journeys have been made by passengers. This is a year-on-year increase in passengers of 27%.

This impressive growth is a great news for passengers and the planet.

The new and improved services have been funded by a £7 million-plus investment by the Combined Authority and delivered by GWR and Network Rail. This substantial investment underscores our commitment to upgrading and improving our transport infrastructure.

Growing passenger numbers is my biggest priority in terms of building the sustainable West of England public transport system we all want to see.

Increased usage not only supports economic growth but also contributes significantly to our environmental goals, by reducing car dependency and lowering emissions.

But I am not stopping there: we’re planning for the future.

I’ve revived plans to electrify railway lines in the West, starting with tracks from Temple Meads. Electrification is a crucial step towards a greener, more efficient rail network, reducing delays and environmental impacts.

Additionally, I have launched a new station study. This is doing very early-stage work to look at the case for building additional stations in Lockleaze, St Anne’s, Saltford, and Ashton Gate.

Expanding our rail network with new stations is essential for improving accessibility and convenience for our passengers. These new stations could help to better connect our communities, providing more travel options and support the local economy.

Our efforts to improve the railway system are not just about numbers and infrastructure; they are about creating a better quality of life for the residents of our region. By providing efficient, reliable, and sustainable transport options, we are making it easier for people to commute, travel, and explore.

The future of our region’s railways is looking brighter. With continued investment, innovative projects, and a clear vision, we are on track to create a transport system that is not only a source of regional pride, but also a model for others to follow.

Let’s celebrate our progress and look forward to even more improvements that will keep our trains – and our region – moving forward.