Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways
FOSBR was formed in 1995 as Friends of Severn Beach Railway, to protest against the potential demise of the Severn Beach Line, a single-track branch line in Bristol. Services at the time had been reduced along the line from Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach, with many services replaced by buses. The first FOSBR action was on 25 September 1995, when a group of protestors met at Avonmouth railway station with buggies and bicycles, to show that buses were not a suitable replacement for trains. The group later changed its name to Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways, allowing it to keep the FOSBR acronym.
Severn Beach Line
FOSBR's first campaign was to get a better service on the Severn Beach Line, an important Bristol commuter line connecting Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach and Avonmouth via Clifton. The line had few services, no service at all on Sundays, and very few trains travelled the entire length of the line to Severn Beach. Following action by FOSBR and a string of protests, Bristol City Council agreed to subsidise a service of at least one train every 45mins in each direction along the line. This continued until 2007 when a 1-hour minimum service was written into the Greater Western passenger franchise. In 2007, the Council unanimously agreed to pay £450,000 per year to fund extra services from May 2008 for three years, which resulted in a 60% increase in passenger numbers along the line, and a 25% year-on-year increase between June 2009 and June 2010. Passenger numbers on the line increased by 90% over the period 2008–11, and 25% in the period 2010–11. The Council cut the subsidy paid by half, saying the extra passengers were allowing the line to support itself, which prompted criticism by FOSBR, saying the money should be used to provide evening trains and through services to Bedminster and Parson Street.
Services along the line run at roughly three trains every two hours between Avonmouth and Temple Meads, with one extending to Severn Beach. FOSBR has started campaigning for a half-hourly service, however this will require significant infrastructure work – there are only three sections of the line which are double track (Avonmouth, Clifton Down, and the section where services run on the main line Cross Country Route between Narroways Junction and Temple Meads), and this limits the number of trains which can be run.
FOSBR also campaigned for a Sunday service between Severn Beach and Weston-super-Mare, the success of which was celebrated with a picnic. There are two services each Sunday – both terminate at Severn Beach during the summer, but one terminates at Avonmouth outside of summer.
FOSBR support the opening of a station to serve the A4 Portway Park & Ride scheme in Shirehampton. They argue that buses often have to deal with heavy traffic on the A4 Portway to reach the city centre, and that a rail link would be quicker and greener.
FOSBR are campaigning for the Henbury Loop Line, a freight line in the north of Bristol which has not seen passenger traffic since the 1960s. This would include the reopening of Henbury and North Filton railway stations, both of which closed to passengers in 1964. FOSBR suggest this would help services along the Severn Beach Line, allowing a Temple Meads-Avonmouth-Bristol Parkway service, and also provide services to the north of Bristol generally, the Cribbs Causeway shopping centre, and the redevelopment at Filton Aerodrome. FOSBR say that local councils have committed to a feasibility study into reopening the line.
The line between Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway, commonly known as Filton Bank, is mainly double track, but due to the number of services which use it, is frequently congested. The line used to be four-track, but the number of running lines was reduced during the 60s and 70s as a cost-saving measure. FOSBR support the four-tracking of the line, known as the Filton Bank, and continuing the four-tracking to Parson Street and the junction with the Portishead Line. The line between Temple Meads and Parson Street is mostly three track, with the down relief line disused to Bedminster and taken up beyond. The up relief line is in use between Bedminster and Parson Street, but at Parson Street is only accessible by trains from the Portishead Line.
Electrification to Weston-super-Mare
The Great Western Main Line, the major railway between London and Bristol, is due for electrification as part of a major upgrade scheme taking place in the next few years. The entire line between London Paddington, Bristol Temple Meads and Cardiff Central is due to be electrified by 2017, as is the line between Temple Meads and Parkway. However, FOSBR are concerned that since the new electric Intercity Express Programme (IEP) trains will not be able to operate beyond Bristol, direct services between London and Weston-super-Mare will be discontinued. FOSBR therefore support the extension of electrification to Weston-super-Mare, and of the Severn Beach Line, to provide passengers with "better, more reliable services".
FOSBR also supported the building of the Filton Triangle depot, Stoke Gifford for Intercity Express Trains, against local opposition. 550 local residents signed a petition against the depot, citing light, noise and water pollution concerns. FOSBR released a joint statement with Daniel Casey of the Green Party and Dave Wood of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, saying that the residents' concerns were unfounded, noting several methods of noise/light/water pollution prevention that would be used, and also mentioning that the nearby motorways, Filton Airfield and night-time freight trains on the South Wales Main Line would all produce more background noise than the depot would.
FOSBR support the reopening of the Portishead Branch Line to passenger services. The line was closed in the 1960s, but was reopened in the early 2000s for freight trains to serve Royal Portbury Docks. The track beyond Pill is either overgrown or built over.
FOSBR hold awards ceremonies for people and organisations who have helped promote rail transport in the Bristol area.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways.|
- http://www.fosbr.org.uk/ – Official website
- "Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways making rail difference". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. 25 September 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "Campaigners' picnic marks rail launch". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. 17 July 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "Campaigners call for quick railway action". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Bristol Evening Post (23 August 2011). "Severn Beach railway line sees 90 per cent rise in passengers". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "£6 million cut for transport improvements". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "More trains in evening". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "Timetable 24: London Paddington to Bath Spa, Bristol, Weston-super-Mare and South Wales; 14 May to 8 December 2012" (PDF). First Great Western. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "Timetable 29: Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach; 14 May to 8 December 2012" (PDF). First Great Western. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "Transport Minister hears calls for better Bristol train service". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. 17 October 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
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- "New train service is on the right tracks". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. 17 July 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "Council leader's claim is a distortion of the facts". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Bristol Evening Post (13 January 2009). "Railway station could be built at Portway park and ride". Evening Post. Northcliffe Media. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "Benefits of Bristol to London high-speed rail link 'must go beyond just mainline'". This Is Bristol (Northcliffe Media). 3 March 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- Oakley, Mike (2006). Bristol Railway Stations 1840–2005. Redcliffe. ISBN 1904537545.
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- Oakley, Mike (2003). Gloucestershire Railway Stations. Redcliffe. ISBN 1904349242.
- Bristol Evening Post (28 March 2012). "Campaigners raise questions over Henbury rail route". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "Our Case". Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "Electrification vital for rail, says group". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Bristol Evening Post (12 April 2012). "MPs must back track expansion". This is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "Green light for long-awaited rail improvements". Bristol Evening Post (Northcliffe Media). 17 July 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Bristol to London line to be electrified". This Is Bristol (Northcliffe Media). 23 July 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "Great Western electrification and IEP to go ahead". Cardiff News. 7 May 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
- Hammond, Philip (1 March 2011). "Intercity Express and Rail Electrification". Department for Transport (United Kingdom).
- "Green light for new trains and rail electrification". Department for Transport (United Kingdom). 1 March 2011.
- "Weston's rail commuter services could be cut, warns town's MP" (Press release). John Penrose MP. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "FoSBR Newsletter" (PDF) (78). Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways. Autumn 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- Bristol Evening Post (31 January 2012). "Railway activists back depot despite concerns". This Is Bristol. Northcliffe Media. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Oakley, Mike (2002). Somerset Railway Stations. Bristol: Redcliffe. ISBN 1-90453-754-5.