Bedminster railway station
Looking east along the platforms.
|Managed by||First Great Western|
|Number of platforms||3|
|Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
|Annual rail passenger usage*|
|Original company||Bristol and Exeter Railway|
|Pre-grouping||Great Western Railway|
|Post-grouping||Great Western Railway|
|1871||Station opened as Ashton|
|27 May 1884||Resited|
|30 April 1932||Rebuilt with four tracks|
|1 June 1964||Closed to goods traffic|
|National Rail – UK railway stations|
|* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Bedminster from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.|
|UK Railways portal|
Bedminster railway station is on the Bristol to Exeter Line and serves the districts of Bedminster and Windmill Hill in Bristol, England. It is 0.9 miles (1.4 km) to the west of Bristol Temple Meads, and 119 miles (192 km) from London Paddington. Its three letter station code is BMT. It was opened in 1871 by the Bristol and Exeter Railway, was resited slightly further to the west in 1884 and was rebuilt in 1932. The station, which has three through-lines and two island platforms, but minimal facilities, was managed by First Great Western in 2012, the seventh company to be responsible for the station, and the third franchise since privatisation in 1997. They provide all train services at the station, mainly an hourly service between Bristol Parkway and Weston-super-Mare.
There is local support for the line to be electrified, as an extension of the planned electrification of the London to Bristol route, and the level of service would be improved if proposals for the reinstatement of a passenger service on the nearby Portishead Branch Line, which was reopened for freight in 2001, are successful.
The station is built on the lower northern slopes of Windmill Hill, on the Bristol to Exeter Line 119 miles 22 chains (191.95 km) from London Paddington and 71 chains (1.43 km) from Bristol Temple Meads. It the first station along the line from Bristol. To the south of the station is a primarily residential area, with terraced houses and several tower blocks; while to the north is an industrial estate and shopping area. The railway line serves as the boundary between the Southville and Windmill Hill council wards, although the area is generally considered part of Bedminster, it is not part of the Bedminster council ward. The area is also served by Parson Street railway station, 74 chains (1.49 km) further along the line.
The station has two island platforms, each 240 yards (220 m) long, but only the first 100–110 yards (90–100 m) are in use, the rest fenced off. Platform 1 is on the north side of the southern island, on the "Down Main" line serving westbound trains, the other side of the island is not in use, having been converted to a carriage siding. Platforms 2 and 3 are on the northern island. Platform 3, on the north side "Up Relief" line, is used exclusively for eastbound trains. Platform 2, on the south side "Up Main" line, is used mostly for eastbound trains, but can be used for westbound services, as the line is signalled for bidirectional running. There is a carriage siding on the south side of the southern island, coming from the east and terminating within the station limits. The speed limit through the station is 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) on the Down Main and eastbound on the Up Main. The Up Relief and westbound Up Main have a speed limit of 40 miles per hour (64 km/h), the siding has a speed limit of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h). The line is not electrified.
Access between the platforms is via a subway with ramps at the west end of the platforms, although the station is not considered completely accessible as the ramps are steeper than 1 in 12. The subway exits onto Fraser Street, which is the sole entrance to the station. The subway is decorated with murals painted by local schoolchildren, reflecting the history and culture of Bristol.
Facilities at the station are minimal — there is a metal and glass shelter on each of the two islands, and a bench on the eastbound island. The station is completely unstaffed, and there are no facilities for buying tickets. There are customer help points, giving next train information for both platforms. There is no car park or taxi rank, and the nearest bus stop is 200 yards (180 m) away on Malago Road. There is some cycle storage available.
The station is managed by First Great Western, who also operate all rail services from the station. As of the December 2013 timetable, the basic service from Monday to Friday consists of one train in each direction per hour between Bristol Parkway and Weston-super-Mare, calling at all stations. Some trains working between Cardiff and Taunton or Exeter St Davids call at peak hours and in the evening. All weekday trains at Bedminster also stop at Parson Street westbound and Bristol Temple Meads eastbound. On Saturday there is a similar pattern, but with no services beyond Bristol Parkway or Weston-super-Mare except during the early morning and late evening. Sunday sees a reduced service, with no trains eastbound until afternoon, and no trains westbound until 3pm. After that there is approximately one train every two hours, most of which do not call at Parson Street.
Services are formed by a mix of Class 150, 153 and 158 diesel multiple-unit trains. Until 2012, Class 143 Pacer units were a regular sight, but these have mostly been moved south to work in Devon and Cornwall following a cascade of Class 150/1 units from London Midland and London Overground. CrossCountry services between Scotland and the South West pass non-stop throughout the day, with First Great Western services between London Paddington and Weston-super-Mare passing through during the morning and evening peaks.
The typical journey time to Bristol Temple Meads is 4 minutes, while to Weston-super-Mare takes 33 minutes.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
|Bristol Temple Meads||First Great Western
Bristol Parkway - Weston-super-Mare
The first section of the Bristol and Exeter Railway's main line opened on 14 June 1841 between Bristol and Bridgwater. The station at Bedminster, originally known as Ashton, opened in 1871, on the site of an earlier excursion platform which had closed in about 1870. Sited approximately 57 chains (1.1 km) from the Bristol & Exeter's northern terminus at Bristol Temple Meads and 119 miles 08 chains (191.7 km) from the Great Western Railway's London terminus at Paddington, there were two tracks, both originally 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad-gauge, but the line was reconstructed as a mixed gauge line to accommodate local 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)-gauge traffic by 1 June 1875. On 1 January 1876, the Bristol and Exeter was amalgamated into the Great Western Railway (GWR), who took over services. The station had been renamed Bedminster by 1884, when on 27 May the original station closed and a new station was opened some 14 chains (280 m) west. There were two separate platforms, one on each side of the two tracks. Broad-gauge trains ceased operation on 20 May 1892, and in 1908 the new station was extended, with the addition of ornate station buildings and a footbridge at the west end of the platforms. Until the opening of Parson Street in 1927, Bedminster had served as the first station for trains heading for the Portishead Branch Line, which served the town of Portishead, the villages of Pill and Portbury, and the south side of the River Avon.
The station was rebuilt in 1932, opening on 30 April. The ornate buildings were demolished to enable the line to be four-tracked, and were replaced by more austere buildings on two island platforms between the tracks, including two waiting rooms, ticket and parcel offices. The new station was accessed, as now, by a subway from Fraser Street. The station employed 15 men in 1938. There was a 74 lever signal box to the east of the northern platform, and also a small siding to serve local coal merchants.
When the railways were nationalised in 1948, the GWR became the Western Region of British Railways. Goods traffic at Bedminster ceased from 1 June 1964, traffic to Portishead ended with the closure of that line in September the same year, and the station became unstaffed from September 1968. The signal box was taken out of service in April 1970, and by 1979 all the station buildings had been demolished.
British Rail was split into business-led sectors in the 1980s, at which time operations at Bedminster passed to Regional Railways. Local services were franchised to Wales & West when the railway was privatised in 1997, which was in turn succeeded by Wessex Trains, an arm of National Express, in 2001. The Wessex franchise was amalgamated with the Great Western franchise into the Greater Western franchise from 2006, and responsibility passed to First Great Western, a subsidiary company of First Group.
In 2010, the Severnside Community Rail Partnership began a comprehensive scheme to improve the station. The work included removing foliage from the platforms, new lighting and artwork for the subway, community display panels and the installation of help points. The subway artwork came third in the arts category at the 2011 Community Rail Awards.
First Great Western declined an option to continue the Greater Western passenger franchise, of which services at Bedminster are a part, beyond 2013, citing a desire for a longer-term contract due to the impending upgrade to the Great Western Main Line. The franchise was put out to tender, but the process was halted and later scrapped due to the fallout from the collapse of the InterCity West Coast franchise competition. A two-year franchise extension until September 2015 was agreed in October 2013, and subsequently extended until March 2019.
With the coming upgrade to the Great Western Main Line, the main line from London to Bristol is due to be electrified by 2016. However, the electrification will not extend beyond Bristol to Weston-super-Mare, so Bedminster will continue to be served by diesel trains. The group Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways supports the electrification continuing to Weston, as does MP for Weston-super-Mare John Penrose.
Bedminster is on the Weston-super-Mare/Yate corridor, one of the main axes of the Greater Bristol Metro, a rail transport plan which aims to enhance transport capacity in the Bristol area. As part of this scheme, the Portishead Branch Line, which runs along the south side of the River Avon from a junction just beyond Parson Street railway station, will be reopened. Trains along the line will likely serve Bedminster, with an aspiration of two trains per hour in peak periods. The line was built in the 1860s, but closed to passenger traffic in 1964, leaving Portishead as one of Britain's largest towns without a railway station. The line was reopened for freight traffic to serve Royal Portbury Docks in 2001. The scheme was given the go-ahead in July 2012 as part of the City Deal, whereby local councils would be given greater control over money by the government. The Invitation to Tender for the new Greater Western franchise asked bidders to include costs for two trains per hour each direction between Portishead and Bristol Temple Meads, calling at all stations, with one train per hour extended to Severn Beach. These services were initially due to operate from the December 2017 timetable change, running 18 hours a day Monday-Saturday and 9 hours a day on Sundays. However the date was pushed back to December 2018 due to planning requirements for the rest of the Bristol Metro. It is expected the scheme will cost up to £55 million.
Network Rail, the railway's infrastructure company, is calling for the Down Relief line between Bristol Temple Meads and Parson Street to be reinstated in order to ease congestion. According to the Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy, in the December 2007 timetable period, the line through Parson Street was running at over 75% capacity in the morning peak between 8 and 9am. It was predicted that by 2019, trains working the line would be completely full during peak hours. While the three tracks could cope with traffic generated by the reopening of the Portishead Line, campaigners note it would leave little room for growth.
There have been several railway incidents in the Bedminster area over the years. On 1 May 2001, a Class 153 unit passed a red signal near Bedminster, but was stopped before it could head on to the Main line from the Relief line in front of a High Speed Train. Three years later, on 23 September 2004, the 12:10 Wessex Trains service from Penzance to Bristol Temple Meads struck and killed a 12-year-old boy on the Up Relief line, who had been hiding under the platform. The death was ruled accidental.
What used to be the westbound relief line at Bedminster was converted into a carriage siding, and is used to stable trains to avoid clogging the platforms at Bristol Temple Meads. However, as the tracks are fairly easily accessible, such trains can be a magnet for vandals, causing First Great Western to offer a reward of £1000 in March 2007 to catch vandals who had been damaging and spray-painting the trains. More generally, there were 19 crimes reported at Bedminster railway station in 2007, and 14 in 2008. British Transport Police statistics noted a 53% reduction in reported crime at Bristol area stations between 2007 and 2012.
On 6 January 2009, the Windmill Hill bridge, just to the west of Bedminster station, was hit by a vehicle, causing some delays to train services while it was assessed for damage. The bridge was struck again on 17 December 2009, which stopped services for 40 minutes.
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The aspiration is for a regular service on a reopened line with new stations at Ashton Gate, Pill and Portishead and stopping trains at Parson St and Bedminster.
- "Portishead rail link plan is latest in long-running saga". This is Bristol (Northcliffe Media). 20 August 2008. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
The most expensive option would see two trains an hour on the line at peak times and one in less busy periods, with trains calling at Pill, Ashton Gate, Bedminster and Parson Street, a passing loop and additional signals.
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Network Rail is calling for ... An extended passenger line from Bristol Temple Meads to Parson Street to remove the bottleneck.
- "July 2001". Cardiff & Avonside Railway Society. July 2001. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
01/05 ... What could have been a serious SPAD incident occurred near Bedminster station during the late afternoon when a Class 153 unit passed a red signal, but was stopped before heading onto the mainline from the relief line, in front of an HST service.
- "Passenger train kills boy on line". BBC News. 24 September 2004. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "Tragic rail accident boy named". BBC News. 30 September 2004. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "November 2004". Cardiff & Avonside Railway Society. November 2004. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
23/09 A fatality at Bedminster on the relief line caused some early evening delays, when a youngster was struck by the Wessex Train's 12.10 Penzance-Temple Meads service.
- "Boy died after hiding at station". BBC News. 21 April 2005. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "May 2007". Cardiff & Avonside Railway Society. May 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
22/03 ... First/GW have offered a £1000 reward to catch vandals who have damaged ECS stock moves near Bedminster station. A coach window has been reported broken and there have been graffiti attacks whilst trains stable for short periods between services in the area.
- "June 2009". Cardiff & Avonside Railway Society. June 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
Stapledon Road — Rail crime has increased at this Bristol surburban station from 21 incidents during 2007, to 25 in 2008, but stations at Lawrence Hill (from 20 to 12) and Bedminster (19 to 14) have seen a decrease. A combined total of 42 incidents between Worle and Weston-super-Mare stations during 2007 had dropped to 28 during 2008.
- "March 2009". Cardiff & Avonside Railway Society. March 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
06/01 ... a bridge strike at Windmill Hill, Bedminster caused some more early afternoon delays!
- "March 2010". Cardiff & Avonside Railway Society. March 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
17/12 A bridge strike at Windmill Hill (Bedminster) saw all services stopped from 10:30 - 11:11. At least one service was also cancelled because of the incident.
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