Weston-super-Mare railway station

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Weston-super-Mare National Rail
Weston-super-Mare
Location
Place Weston-super-Mare
Local authority North Somerset
Coordinates 51°20′41″N 2°58′18″W / 51.3446°N 2.9716°W / 51.3446; -2.9716Coordinates: 51°20′41″N 2°58′18″W / 51.3446°N 2.9716°W / 51.3446; -2.9716
Grid reference ST324610
Operations
Station code WSM
Managed by First Great Western
Number of platforms 2
Live arrivals/departures and station information
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2002/03 0.717 million
2004/05 Increase 0.799 million
2005/06 Increase 0.836 million
2006/07 Increase 0.858 million
2007/08 Increase 0.936 million
2008/09 Increase 0.964 million
2009/10 Decrease 0.936 million
2010/11 Increase 1.038 million
2011/12 Increase 1.104 million
2012/13 Decrease 1.037 million
History
Original company Bristol and Exeter Railway
Pre-grouping Great Western Railway
Post-grouping Great Western Railway
1841 Terminus opened
1866 Replaced by second station
1884 Replaced by present station
1972 Branch line singled
National RailUK railway stations
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Weston-super-Mare from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
Portal icon UK Railways portal

Weston-super-Mare railway station serves the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare in North Somerset, England. It is situated on a loop off the main Bristol to Taunton Line.

The station is operated by First Great Western. It consists of two platforms linked by a covered footbridge which is also used as a public footpath between roads on either side of the station. Trains may use either platform in either direction, and many services are booked to pass each other at the station.

History[edit]

1841 station[edit]

A replica of the locomotive North Star at the site of the first station

The Bristol and Exeter Railway arrived in Weston-super-Mare on 14 June 1841. This was not the route that serves today's station, but rather a single-track branch line from Weston Junction railway station, mid way between the present day Worle and Uphill junctions, which terminated at a small station in Regent Street close to the High Street.[1]

The trains on this first branch line were made up of two or three small carriages which were hauled by a team of three horses. It was reported that when a strong wind was blowing towards the train passengers sometimes got out and walked as it could be quicker! By 1850 a limited number of trains were being worked by steam locomotives, but horses continued to be used on certain trains until 31 March 1851.[2]

The station had a train shed that covered two tracks, although only one passenger platform was provided. Between this and the High Street was the Railway Hotel; in the other direction a level crossing was provided to carry the line across Locking Road, the eastwards continuation of Regent Street. A small engine shed was eventually provided here to house the steam locomotive.

After closure, the land was eventually gifted to the town and planted with trees, giving rise to its unofficial name of "The Plantation". A floral clock was built on the site of the station building. Although the mechanism has not worked for many years, the raised flower bed is still planted each year to commemorate a local or national event. Next to this is a scale replica of North Star, the first locomotive to run on the Great Western Railway. It was erected in 2006 to commemorate to 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the engineer who designed this first station. The Railway Hotel is currently known as Tavern Inn the Town.

1866 station[edit]

The old signal box

New goods facilities were opened on the junction side of Locking Road in 1862; the first goods dispatched were three truck loads of flower pots from the nearby Royal Pottery. On 20 July 1866, a large passenger station was opened adjacent to this, which allowed the closure of Brunel's 1841 terminus and the elimination of the Locking Road level crossing, although a second one across Devonshire Road remained. The branch was given a second track at the same time.

The new station again featured a train shed which covered the platforms.[1] This was designed by the railway's engineer, Francis Fox, and was similar to the one built by him at about the same time at Exeter. The two platforms were supplemented by an excursion platform next to the goods depot.[2] A new Bristol and Exeter Hotel was opened to serve the new station; it is now known as The Town Crier.

Until now the branch had been part of Brunel's 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad gauge network, but on 1 July 1875 a third rail was added to each line which allowed 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) gauge trains to also reach the town. From 1879 no broad gauge trains were timetabled along the branch, although they continued to operate on the main line until 20 May 1892. In the meantime, the Bristol and Exeter Railway had been amalgamated into the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1876.

Preceding station Disused railways Following station
Weston Junction railway station   Bristol and Exeter Railway   Terminus

1884 station[edit]

A Class 31 with a local service to Bristol before the canopy was cut back

The Bristol and Exeter Railway had obtained an Act of Parliament in 1875 to construct a new loop line through the town, which would allow trains to serve the town and then continue along the main line. No action was taken on this for many years which led to a planning blight along the proposed route. An 1880 court case forced the Great Western Railway to pay 5% interest to the affected property owners, which prompted the railway company into action.[2]

The new line and station were opened on 1 March 1884.[1] This was not the end of the old branch line as for several years a trolley was taken along the old tracks to collect mail from a postal train at the old Junction station each night.[3] There was also a need to serve the town's gas works until 1972, and this was done along a short section of the old branch including the level crossing over Devonshire Road which had a roundabout built on it after the remainder of the branch became Winterstoke Road.

Map of the various stations in Weston

The new station consisted of three platforms – two through platforms and an east-facing terminal bay – and was given hipped glass and iron canopies to keep the weather off passengers.[2] A carriage siding was provided between the two main platforms and some more were built on land to the south of the station.[4] Yet more sidings and an engine shed were on the north side of the line near the 1866 station which quickly found itself being reopened for goods traffic until final closure on 30 June 1966.

A new terminal station was opened in 1914 to deal with excursion traffic in 1914, being known as Locking Road station, while the main station was known as Weston-super-Mare General.[2] Locking Road closed on 6 September 1964. The area once used by the 1866 and Locking Road stations, along with the sidings, has now been replaced by a Tesco store and a large car and coach park. The only surviving railway building is the old signal box; originally controlling the 1866 station, it shows signs of a later extension to allow extra signal levers for the larger station.

The loop line was singled on 31 January 1972.[4] Most of the sidings were removed at this time and the bay platform (Platform 3) was reduced to the status of a siding. Two signal boxes – one at each end of the station – were closed and new colour light signals provided. These are controlled from a Panel Signal Box at Bristol Temple Meads, but an emergency panel is situated in the Station Supervisors office that can be used to control the line from Puxton Signal Box to Uphill Junction along both the loop line and avoiding line when there are problems with the normal signalling system.

The station itself was refurbished in 1986 with a new booking office.[2] A few years later the canopy was renewed. This saw the removal of a few bays of the canopy at the east end of the station, and the replacement of the hipped canopy by a simpler modern design, although the original cast iron columns support this. Some hipped bays remain on the road side of the station entrance as a reminder of how it all once looked.

Services[edit]

A First Great Western service to Cardiff Central departs from Platform 2.

The core timetable consists of local services from Bristol Parkway that call at almost every station and then terminate at Weston-super-Mare, and semi-fast services calling at fewer stations between Cardiff Central and Taunton. These two routes combine to give two trains each hour between Bristol Temple Meads and Weston-super-Mare for most of the day during the week.

Additional services superimposed on these local trains include through services to London Paddington, while CrossCountry operate some daily services between Paignton and Manchester. This links Weston-super-Mare with destinations to the north, such as Birmingham and Stafford, without needing to change trains at Bristol Temple Meads.

On summer Saturdays the number of long distance trains operated by both First Great Western and CrossCountry is significantly increased. Summer Sundays sees a call by the steam-hauled Torbay Express to Kingswear.

CrossCountry unit 220014 departs with a service for Manchester Piccadilly.

Buses operate from the railway station to Axbridge, Cheddar, Wells, Burnham-on-Sea, and Bristol Airport, as well as most parts of the town.

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Weston Milton   First Great Western
London/Cardiff to Taunton
  Highbridge and Burnham
Weston Milton   First Great Western
Bristol Parkway to Weston-super-Mare
  Terminus
Bristol Temple Meads   CrossCountry
Scotland to Devon and Cornwall
  Taunton

Future[edit]

Four bidders pre-qualified for the 2013– Greater Western passenger franchise: clockwise from top left, Deutsche Bahn, Stagecoach Group, First Group and National Express.

First Great Western declined an option to continue the Greater Western passenger franchise (of which local and London services at Weston-super-Mare are a part) beyond 2013, citing a desire for a longer-term contract due to the impending upgrade to the Great Western Main Line.[5] The franchise was put out to tender,[6][7][8] but the process was halted and later scrapped due to the fallout from the collapse of the InterCity West Coast franchise competition.[9] A two-year franchise extension until September 2015 was agreed in October 2013, following negotiations between First Great Western and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP.[10][11] The coming years will see the introduction of new Intercity Express Trains, capacity enhancements and smart ticketing.[12]

With the coming upgrade to the Great Western Main Line, the main line from London to Bristol is due to be electrified. However, the electrification will not extend beyond Bristol, so Weston-super-Mare will continue to be served by diesel trains.[13] This could entail the removal of direct London services, as electric trains would not be able to operate beyond Bristol.[14] Services could however continue using bi-mode trains, which have electric engines that can be powered by either electrified tracks, or by on-board diesel generators.[15] The group Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways supports the electrification continuing to Weston,[16][17] as does MP for Weston-super-Mare John Penrose.[14][18] It was suggested that the loss of direct London services would see a 40% decrease in passenger numbers.[12]

The Weston-super-Mare/Yate corridor is one of the main axes of the Greater Bristol Metro, a rail transport plan which aims to enhance transport capacity in the Bristol area.[19][20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c MacDermot, E T (1931). History of the Great Western Railway, volume II 1863–1921. London: Great Western Railway. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f District of Woodspring (1991). Steam to the Seaside. Weston-super-Mare: Woodspring Museum Service. 
  3. ^ Sheppard, Geof (2001). "The Bristol and Exeter Mails". Broadsheet (46): 7–11. 
  4. ^ a b Cooke, RA (1979). Track Layout Diagrams of the GWR and BR WR, Section 16: West Somerset. Harwell: RA Cooke. 
  5. ^ "First Great Western bids for longer rail franchise deal". BBC News. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Haigh, Philip (18 April 2012). "First leads a field of seven bidding for rail franchises". RAIL magazine (Peterborough: Bauer Media) (694): 8–9. 
  7. ^ "Great Western franchise to be extended". Railnews. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "New Great Western franchise to deliver new express trains" (Press release). Department for Transport. 27 July 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "Great Western London to south Wales rail contest scrapped". BBC News (BBC). 31 January 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  10. ^ "First celebrates last-minute Great Western deal". Railnews. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "First Great Western retains Wales and west rail franchise". BBC News (BBC). 3 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "Weston-super-Mare to London rail re-franchise concerns". BBC News (BBC). 10 August 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "Bristol to London line to be electrified". This is Bristol (Northcliffe Media). 23 July 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "Weston's rail commuter services could be cut, warns town's MP" (Press release). John Penrose MP. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  15. ^ Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways. "Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways' response to Network Rail's Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy". Network Rail. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  16. ^ "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. 
  17. ^ FoSBR Newsletter (78). Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways. Autumn 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  18. ^ "MP takes drive for better rail services to top". This is Bristol (Northcliffe Media). 29 October 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  19. ^ White, James (13 March 2009). "Item 04: Greater Bristol Metro". West of England Partnership. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  20. ^ "Campaign for trains from Bristol Temple Meads every half-hour". This is Bristol (Northcliffe Media). 17 January 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2012.