Saltford Environment Group
The station site in 2013 viewed from footbridge. © SEG.
Saltford Station Campaign: Campaign Archive
We have recorded here just some of the stories and pictures from the start of SEG's campaign for the reopening of our railway station. Latest stories first.
Station Campaign and Parish Council addresses B&NES Scrutiny Panel (16.11.2015)
On 16th November Chris Warren for the Station Campaign and Duncan Hounsell as Chair of the Parish Council spoke in public time to B&NES Council's cross-party Communities, Transport and Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel to inform them about Saltford Station and to seek their assistance in their scrutiny role.
They asked that there be no unnecessary delay or insufficient pressure from B&NES Council on the half-hourly timetable question and that consultants be commissioned to take the project forward to GRIP stages 3 and even 4. They made the point that this not only about providing Saltford's commuters a gateway to the half-hourly Metro West services, but also playing a part in reducing road traffic into Bath and contributing to the economic development of this area.
The democratic mandate given in the Parliamentary, Council and Parish Council elections last May to reopen the station was highlighted and also the point that B&NES urgently required solutions to its chronic transport problems, especially with Bath's new Enterprise Zone and the riverside development nearing completion. Without alternatives to the private car, Bath was close to becoming stifled by traffic and its detrimental effect on air quality leading to public health issues.
Saltford Station Campaign scoops national award
Saltford Station Campaign has received a national award at the Railfuture conference "Rail Resurgence in the West of England" held at the Mercure Hotel, Redcliff Hill, Bristol, on 7th November. Railfuture is the leading national pro-rail campaigning organisation. The campaign received the Oliver Lovell Award (in memory of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group founder who died in 2013) for "Best New Group" and this was presented to Chris Warren of the Saltford Station Campaign by Christian Wolmar, President of Railfuture.
Chris Warren said "I was absolutely delighted to receive this award on behalf of the Saltford Station Campaign. To be recognised by Railfuture is just reward for all our hard work. This award gives the campaign a further boost. I ask the new B&NES Council to take the re-opening of the station to the next stage of project development without undue delay."
Cllr Duncan Hounsell, Chair of Saltford Parish Council, said "I congratulate the Saltford Station campaigners on this national award. The Parish Council fully supports the re-opening of Saltford Station which would give villagers a gateway to the half-hourly services of the Metro West rail project."
Judges' comments: "Campaign shows a sound knowledge of the rail industry and grasp of technical detail, good engagement with stakeholders' buy-in, cross-party support, a strong environmental message, and a good chance of success."
SEG's station campaign meets with B&NES Council
Representatives of SEG's Saltford Station Campaign, Chris Warren (Campaign Chair), Phil Harding (SEG Chair) and Rob Taylor (Campaign team member), had a constructive first meeting with the new Conservative administration at B&NES on 1 September to discuss the next steps in taking forward the ambition to reopen Saltford railway station. Present from B&NES Council were Cllr Tim Warren (Leader of the Council), Cllr Tony Clarke (Cabinet member for Transport), and Peter Dawson (Group Manager Transport & Planning Policy). Matthew Barnes from First Great Western was also present.
SEG underlined the democratic wish of Saltford for re-opening our station, expressed most recently in the Saltford Parish Council (76% turnout) and B&NES Council elections (May 2015) where all 11 elected Parish Councillors and the two elected ward Councillors for B&NES had taken a pro Saltford station stance as a priority issue in their election campaigns.
The meeting agreed that a decision was required from Network Rail to show that timetable provision of a half-hourly peak time service stopping at Saltford could be made within the existing and proposed long distance InterCity services. That information should be known by Christmas 2015 in the context of the current MetroWest feasibility work and discussions. A half-hourly service at peak times was required for making the financial case for reopening Saltford station; once this is known then B&NES Council would be in a position to proceed with GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) stages 3 and 4.
The notion of an alternative site for the station in the Green Belt was discussed. SEG reminded the meeting that (a) the elected Conservative B&NES Councillors and Saltford Parish Councillors were against Green Belt development, and (b) the GRIP process would ensure the optimum site was chosen. SEG also showed Network Rail's schematic plan for the signalling infrastructure work at the station site which included provision for the construction of the station (see plan above).
Since the meeting with B&NES Council on 1st September Network Rail, in response to an approach by Saltford Parish Council, has said that the responsibility rests with B&NES Council as a member of the West of England Partnership for seeking inclusion of Saltford in the timetable development for MetroWest. The Parish Council and SEG have asked B&NES Council at Official and Member level to pursue this so that work on GRIP 3 and 4 can proceed without further delay.
Re-signalling project at Saltford station site
Residents might notice some limited construction work taking place at the Saltford station site (see picture).
Network Rail has assured the Parish Council that:
"The construction, which is for the Bristol re-signalling project, has been positioned to allow for the Saltford station."
"Network Rail is aware of the third party aspiration to reopen a station at Salford. As part of our planning for electrification and other infrastructure enhancements, we endeavour to take into consideration such future aspirations to ensure that our works do not preclude or incur additional works to enable these ambitions to be achieved. Therefore, I can confirm that the current signalling works will not preclude the re-opening of Saltford Station."
New Parish Council votes unanimously to back the re-opening of Saltford station
On Tuesday 19th May the newly elected Saltford Parish Council voted unanimously on the following motion:-
"Saltford Parish Council supports the principle of re-opening Saltford Station whilst mindful to address any concerns. Saltford Parish Council welcomes the fact that £250,000 has been included in the budgets of B&NES Council in order to take the project development forward to Network Rail's GRIP stages 3 and 4. Saltford Parish Council asks that B&NES Council commission this development work at the earliest opportunity. Saltford Parish Council's preferred site is the existing site. This Council does not wish to place any constraints on this development work but asks that it is consulted about options before final decisions about Saltford Station are eventually made."
B&NES Council votes to fund next steps for Saltford station
On 17th February the full B&NES Council took the vote for the 2015/16 budget as recommended by the Lib Dem Cabinet and this was passed. The good news for our campaign to reopen Saltford station is that the £250,000 within the budget for taking the station forward to Network Rail's project design stages GRIP 3 and 4 (£100,000 in 2015/16 and a further £150,000 in 2016/17) has thus been approved.
Cross-party support for Saltford station
With the 2015 General Election now only a few months away, it is important to remind our supporters that the station campaign is politically neutral and we enjoy support from all three main political parties for the objective to re-open the station on the existing site.
The support we have received (in alphabetical order by political party) is shown here:-
The petition was delivered by campaign members to our local MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, at the House of Commons on 19th April 2012. He then formally presented our petition to the House of Commons that evening at 6.38pm; and in his statement to the House he urged "the Government to take all possible steps to ensure that Saltford station is re-opened".
Jacob has also told the campaign that he was happy to make any representations on the campaign's behalf. On 6th January 2015 he said: "I support the efforts of the Saltford Environment Group who have been championing the reopening of Saltford station for a number of years. There are numerous benefits for the local community in reopening the station, including the possibility of reducing the cost of the commute to Bristol or Bath, simplifying logistics for local businesses and reducing traffic on the roads."
In May 2012 B&NES Councillor Mathew Blankely (Cons) told Radio Bristol's Steve Yabsley "how proud we all are in Saltford" of Saltford Environment Group's "outstanding work... the campaign has gone from strength to strength."
On 8th November 2014 the leader of the Conservative Group of B&NES Councillors, Cllr Tim Warren, made the following statement to the station campaign:
'We are fully supportive of opening a train station for Saltford and the surrounding community. However, whatever location is decided upon, the concerns of residents over traffic, access and parking issues will need to be addressed. As a party, we are committed to reducing traffic congestion.'
Todd Foreman, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for North East Somerset, met Chris Warren, Duncan Hounsell and Phil Harding of our Saltford Station Campaign during the summer to hear the case for the reopening of Saltford Railway Station and to see the Bath Hill site.
Todd, on hearing the news in November 2014 that B&NES Council was proposing to fund stages 3 and 4 of Network Rail's GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) process, said:
"I support reopening the train station at Saltford. Having visited the site, I have seen first hand how opening a station in Saltford is feasible and makes good sense. Many residents in and around Saltford commute to Bath or Bristol, so opening the station in Saltford will give residents more options to use public transportation."
Some Saltford commuters currently have to drive to Keynsham station to use the train service from there and some of our residents collect/deliver rail passengers at Keynsham. Todd said: "A station in Saltford would also be good news for Keynsham, as it should relieve some of the pressure on traffic and parking around Keynsham's train station."
Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for the North East Somerset Constituency, has given her full backing to the campaign to reopen Saltford railway station as part of MetroWest. Wera said:
"Improving public transport and making sure that people have easy access to it, is a key ambition for Liberal Democrats in Saltford. To reopen the railway station and incorporate Saltford into a new improved link between Bristol and Bath is a fantastic plan. This project is gathering more and more support and it has my full backing!"
On 4th November Cllr David Bellotti, B&NES Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Community Resources, at the B&NES Budget Fair meeting in Bath said that the Council was "very committed to Saltford station" and announced £250,000 in the proposed Lib Dem budget for 2015/16 to take the reopening of Saltford station forward to Network Rail's GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) stages 3 and 4.
Railway Development Society supports Saltford Station Campaign
We are extremely grateful to the Railway Development Society (the society campaigns as 'Railfuture') that has shown its strong support for the Saltford Station Campaign by generously donating £100 to the campaign. Railfuture is an independent campaign for a better passenger and freight rail network - website is at www.railfuture.org.uk.
SEG addresses B&NES Cabinet on Saltford station before it votes to take project forward
Chris Warren (Station Campaign Leader) and Phil Harding (SEG Chairman) addressed the B&NES Cabinet on 3rd December. They made the following key points:-
Station has cross-party support
SEG's station campaign is grateful for the support received from B&NES Council, the Cabinet and from all three main political parties for the shared ambition to re-open the station on the existing site. SEG welcomes the inclusion of £250,000 in the Council's 2015/16 budget for taking the station forward to Network Rail's project design stages GRIP 3 and 4.
Existing site is the best option
SEG remained convinced that reopening the station on its existing site was the best option. SEG was aware of proposals to site the station further west, to a remote location close to the Keynsham boundary and Keynsham station. Two stops, so close together was almost operationally impossible, which could mean a combined Keynsham and Saltford station.
Such an option would therefore require closure of Keynsham station. A road from the A4 would need to be built to give access plus a large car park would also be required, all on Green Belt land. It would generate thousands of unnecessary car journeys from both directions, would lead to a time consuming campaign against the closure of Keynsham station, the second time it would have faced this threat, and would be counter to the key objective of transferring commuters from road to rail. But, in addition to its existing users, Keynsham station was ideally located for the new housing development of 700 dwellings at Somerdale.
A new station west of the existing site would require new access roads, a significant loss of Green Belt land and incur higher construction costs including the considerable disruption to the railway in order to blast and excavate the rock cutting to allow construction of platforms. The Green Belt "gap" between Keynsham and Saltford would also be put under much greater threat of development.
Parking and safe access
Reservations concerning reopening the station at its existing site were primarily to do with parking and safe access from the A4 without causing congestion. Those issues could be mitigated through careful design by highways experts. The station site was sufficiently large for over 140 car parking spaces while surveys of potential local users showed that the overwhelming majority of residents would walk rather than drive to the station.
Good communications provide better outcomes
B&NES Cabinet was asked to maintain momentum by not letting the next stage of design and feasibility work be delayed by the Council elections in May and that the Council and its consultants work closely with Saltford's community on the designs and proposals for the station and car parking before final decisions were made.
A positive transport facility fit for the 21st Century
We share a common desire to deliver a new station that would be welcomed as a positive transport facility fit for the 21st Century benefiting Saltford, Metro West and the wider community.
Cabinet votes to take the project forward
During the Cabinet's subsequent discussion of this agenda item, the leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Crossley, reminded the meeting that all 65 B&NES Councillors supported the opening of Saltford station. The Cabinet voted unanimously to take the project forward; this excellent decision is welcomed by the Station Campaign.
Deputy Prime Minister and Saltford station
The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg took time on his whistle-stop tour of the area on 27th November to hear about the progress of the campaign to re-open Saltford station as part of the vision of the Metro West Rail project.
The funds to enable phases 1 and 2 of the Metro West project to go ahead are coming mainly from the Government's £1bn City Deal for Bristol announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in July 2012. The Deputy Prime Minister is pictured here at the Guildhall in Bath with Saltford residents Farida Wilson and Duncan Hounsell.
"Saltford station - bringing it back"
On 12th November Duncan Hounsell, representing the station campaign, addressed the B&NES Cabinet at their monthly meeting. In acknowledging the support for our station from the Council and several surveys having shown that a large majority of people in Saltford want the station re-opened, he said:
"The re-opening of Saltford station is not just good for Saltford's hard-pressed commuters but plays a part in reducing congestion along the A4 Corridor. Saltford station will make a contribution to the emerging Transport Strategies for Bath and for Keynsham. The campaign slogan has been "Saltford station - bring it back". This should now be, with this support from B&NES Council, "Saltford station - bringing it back!"
B&NES Council Cabinet back Saltford station with 2015/16 budget proposals
On 4th November Cllr David Bellotti, B&NES Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Community Resources, at the B&NES Budget Fair meeting in Bath said that the Council was "very committed to Saltford station" and announced £250,000 in the proposed Lib Dem budget for 2015/16 to take the reopening of Saltford station forward to Network Rail's GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) stages 3 and 4. These stages involve much more detailed work on costs, design and finance. The first 4 GRIP stages are about planning and the final 4 are concerned with implementation.
This strong backing from the B&NES Cabinet is an important milestone in our long and popular campaign to reopen the station. The 2015/16 Budget will be voted upon by the full Council on 17th February 2015 and once approved work on GRIP stages 3 and 4 can proceed in the new financial year.
We anticipate cross-party support for this aspect of the 2015/16 Budget. On 8th November the leader of the Conservative Group of B&NES Councillors, Cllr Tim Warren, made the following statement to the station campaign:
'We are fully supportive of opening a train station for Saltford and the surrounding community. However, whatever location is decided upon, the concerns of residents over traffic, access and parking issues will need to be addressed. As a party, we are committed to reducing traffic congestion.'
MetroWest gets boost from announcement of 'Filton Four Tracks' project
Network Rail announced on 30th October the doubling of the railway lines between the Bristol's two main stations, Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway. Known as the 'Filton Four Tracks' project, the work forms part of Network Rail's Great Western Route Modernisation Programme to modernise and transform the Great Western Main Line from London Paddington through to Swansea. Under a separate programme of work, this route will also benefit from electrification and a new fleet of faster, quieter and greener electric trains by December 2017.
Andrew Haynes, Network Rail's project director for the west of England, said: "This is an exciting time for the growing city of Bristol. For the last two years we have been working closely with the city council to make sure this project becomes a reality and it's great news that we are now only a matter of weeks away from the start of work on this vital upgrade. The doubling of the tracks between Temple Meads and Parkway stations, together with our work to electrify the Great Western Main Line, will mean that passengers, residents and businesses in Bristol will benefit from an increase in services, reduced journey times and quieter, greener trains. All of this will help us to meet an increasing demand for rail travel and to continue to drive economic growth in the region."
Work to double the railway lines will begin in December 2014 and will be undertaken by Taylor Woodrow, following the award of a £33m contract by Network Rail. Restoring the lost tracks at that part of Bristol will support the new faster electric services to London and South Wales, and new capacity for growing the local MetroWest passenger and extra freight services.
This is important and positive news for the successful implementation of the MetroWest project on which the case for reopening Saltford's station depends.
Rail industry expert backs Saltford station
Station Campaign leader Chris Warren met up with Christian Wolmar (pictured left), the award winning writer and broadcaster specialising in transport and author of a series of books on railway history, at a transport lecture in Bristol during October at which Christian was a guest speaker. Christian was very enthusiastic about the plans for reopening Saltford station which he felt was just the sort of forward-thinking measure required to help solve growing traffic congestion in the Bristol-Bath area.
He said: "I was struck on my recent visit to Bristol to deliver the Will Straw Lecture on how disjointed the transport system is in the region... Schemes like Metrowest are an attempt to reduce car dependence in a region where traffic jams are legendary and public transport poor. They are vital to the economic future of the area. Reopening stations such as Saltford would widen the benefits of such investment and enable many more people to take advantage of non motorised transport. Modern cities across the world have realised that the key to economic development and regeneration is the encouragement of public transport use. In order for Bristol to compete with other areas, making these improvements is not an option - it is essential".
Parish Council asks B&NES to continue to support our station
During the autumn B&NES Council will be considering the latest report from the consultants CM2Hill exploring the feasibility of the station; B&NES Council Cabinet will discuss the report at their December meeting. The next stage of taking the project forward will include more detailed work on costs, technical issues, and design for re-introducing this important piece of transport infrastructure.
With just one abstention, on 7th October Saltford Parish Council supported a motion expressing its wish that B&NES considers the Higher Level Output Assessment report and takes the station project to stage 3 of Network Rail's GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) process for railway development. This reflected the Parish Council's resolution overwhelmingly passed in September 2011 supporting the station campaign and asking B&NES to act as "promoter" of the new station in negotiations with Network Rail which B&NES subsequently agreed to do in April 2012.
Network Rail is now a central government body in the public sector
Network Rail has been re-classified as a "central government body in the public sector". The new classification was implemented from 1 September 2014. This follows the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announcement in December 2013 that, following a review, Network Rail would be classified this way. This was an independent statistical decision taken by ONS in light of the European System of National Accounts 2010 (ESA10) manual from Eurostat which came into force across the EU from 1 September 2014.
Network Rail owns and operates Britain's rail infrastructure. Network Rail advised the station campaign last month that there is passive provision for a reopened station at Saltford and this will not be affected by the electrification of the Great Western Mainline or by associated electricity distribution and re-signalling work at Saltford.
Strong show of support for reopening Saltford station
A large group of Saltford residents gathered at the former station site on Saturday 23rd August to remind B&NES Council that there is overwhelming support for reopening the railway station in Saltford.
Once reopened, the station will be able to provide a regular train service for Saltford when the forthcoming Metro West project provides a half hourly service across the Bristol-Bath sub-region.
Saltford station latest
The latest report by Halcrow consultants on Saltford station based on a "High Level Output Assessment" (HLOA) using sophisticated computer modelling should be available to members of the public soon. B&NES Council will be considering the report during the autumn. The Council will then make an important decision on funding the next stage(s) of the GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) process and that decision is linked to a decision, also required, on the continuing funding contribution by B&NES for the Metro West Rail Project as a whole.
We can advise that during August Network Rail confirmed to the station campaign that there is passive provision for a reopened station at Saltford and this will not be affected by the electrification of the Great Western Mainline or by associated electricity distribution and re-signalling work at Saltford.
Following misleading and inaccurate comments from an opponent to the reopening of Saltford station in a local publication, we thought it might be helpful, especially for our newer members, to summarise the strength of support in the village behind the station campaign that has been shown:-
Majority in favour of station
Following a positive public meeting about a reopened station attended by 140 residents in July 2011, in September 2011 the Parish Council voted overwhelmingly to support the station campaign whilst being mindful of the need to ensure any concerns of local residents were addressed. During November 2011 over 2,000 signed the village petition in favour of reopening Saltford station with support in at least 65% of households. Approximately 30% of householders were unavailable to participate in the 2011 petition when the petition team called but of those residents that did speak to our petitioners, well over 90% supported the campaign.
This high level of support led in turn to B&NES Council agreeing to be the official promoter of our station in April 2012 and the B&NES Cabinet voting unanimously in June 2012 to fund the development of the business case for a reopened Saltford station. Throughout this period and subsequently, key members of the campaign team maintained close working contact with the Metro West project that incorporates Saltford station so that Saltford residents will be able to take advantage of the forthcoming half hourly service between Bristol and Bath. To make sure residents' concerns and opinions are known, B&NES Council carried out a consultation event in February 2014 to which all households received an invitation from the council and of the 370 questionnaires returned, nearly 70% wanted a station in Saltford.
Further background and other information about our campaign to reopen Saltford station can be found on this page.
Huge benefits of reopened Saltford railway station
Regular visitors to our website will be aware of the strong support in Saltford for the reopening of Saltford station - see April 2014 story below "Consultation shows strong support for Saltford station". The following is a letter published in the Bristol Post (link) on 5th August (2014):-
Reader's letter: Huge benefits of reopened Saltford railway station
B&NES Council has commissioned two reports on Saltford Station. The first was a basic report by consultants Halcrow in March 2012. The latest is a much more detailed study by Halcrow called a "Higher Level Option Assessment" (HLOA) which used the sophisticated computer modelling of the Metro West Rail project and Network Rail's timetabling software.
This report was completed in July. It should be available to members of the public soon and B&NES Council Cabinet will be considering the report's findings at its September meeting. Figures provided in advance at the public exhibition held in February suggested that a reopened station has space for at least 144 car-park spaces and the station would generate annual income of £770,000 from fares.
The capital cost could be met in a number of ways which do NOT involve the council tax payer - for example, devolved transport funding to the local area.
If the money is not spent at Saltford, it will be spent elsewhere. The amount of money spent on the consultant's work by B&NES Council is put into perspective by the £3 to £4 million pounds of council tax paid annually by Saltford's house-owners. This work on the early stages of project development could unlock millions of pounds of investment to benefit Saltford's commuters and businesses.
The informal consultation survey carried out by B&NES Council showed 69% in favour of reopening a Saltford Station with 21% against and 10% not having a view. The congestion on the A4 in peak times made worse by the Kelston road closure shows how Saltford should not rely on road transport alone for its transport needs. A reopened Saltford station is part of the vision for the Metro West rail project for the Bristol-Bath region. A network needs stations. The good news is that Crossrail and other developments still allow for time-table stops at Saltford.
Duncan Hounsell, Saltford
TravelWest: Saltford station could be in phase 1 of MetroWest
The TravelWest leaflet "MetroWest - Investing in our local rail network" (June 2014) makes reference to Saltford station in Phase 1. TravelWest brings together the West of England Councils on transport matters. The leaflet states:
Stations at Ashton Gate and Saltford
The leaflet states that Phase 1 will be funded by the local councils and the Department for Transport's devolved major scheme funding. They expect the cost of Phase 1 to be about £45 to £55 million (2019 prices) and that services will start operating in May 2019.
Consultation shows strong support for Saltford station
The results of the Saltford residents' consultation survey carried out by B&NES Council on the possible reopening of Saltford Railway Station have been released by B&NES Council. 370 questionnaires were returned. 68.9% (255) wanted a station at Saltford and 20.5% (76, i.e. less than 2% of the village population) did not, with 10.6% (39) not having a view. If a station was to be provided, 62.7% (232) said that they would walk to it and 10.8% (40) said they would cycle whilst 11.7% (43) said they would drive. Of these 43, 23 said they would look to park at a station car park and 20 said they would look to park in the street. Reasons for using the station included "Going to work" (30.8%), and "Leisure" (36.2%). Replies were mainly from residents aged 35 upwards.
The questionnaire was given out at the public exhibition held by B&NES at Saltford Hall on 25th February (2014) and was also made available online.
Rob Taylor, a Saltford resident and member of the Station Campaign, said "The majority desire a station and this survey demonstrates a potentially dramatic change from car to rail in the way that Saltford commuters get to work." Cllr Paul Crossley, leader of B&NES Council, said at the B&NES Cabinet meeting on 9.4.2014 "This administration is committed to Saltford Station should it prove feasible and is the will of the residents of Saltford."
Chris Warren, leader of the Saltford Station Campaign, said "The positive results of this BaNES survey will feed into the report by consultants*. I firmly expect that the work of the consultants will lead to a decision to take the project onto the next stage of detailed study." *B&NES expects to receive the consultant's report in early summer 2014.
The consultation findings are in line with the station campaign petition of our village during November 2011 which revealed support in at least 65% of Saltford's households for the reopening of Saltford railway station. Approximately 30% of homes did not participate in the 2011 petition as either the house was empty (e.g. for sale) or the occupants were away when the petition team called, despite return visits. Of those residents that did speak to our petitioners, well over 90% supported the campaign.
You can download the consultation results here: Saltford station consultation Feb/Mar 2014: initial results report by B&NES (pdf - opens in new window).
Large attendance at Saltford station consultation event
Future-proofing transport with a lasting legacy for Saltford
It is estimated that over 500 Saltford residents attended the public consultation drop-in event on 25th February 2014 at Saltford Hall.
The event took place following SEG's request in autumn 2012 to B&NES Council to hold a village-wide consultation on the idea of reopening Saltford's railway station, that was closed in 1970, as part of the proposed Bristol Metro rail network. Council transport officers were present to answer questions from residents about the proposals.
Carefully designed and implemented, the station would be a positive asset for our village. Speaking before the event, Chris Warren, the station campaign leader said: "I am delighted that the consultation event is taking place. This is one more step forward towards the reopening of the station. It would be crazy for half-hourly Metro West services to pass through Saltford without stopping".
B&NES were seeking views on how often residents might use the station, how they would get there (e.g. walk, bus, cycle, or drive) and what approach should be taken to manage vehicles wishing to park at the station.
B&NES have published the exhibition panels on their website at www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/parking-and-travel/transport-plans-and-policies/saltford-railway-station. An online version of the questionnaire for submission by Saltford's residents was available until the submission deadline of 26 March 2014.
After an analysis of the questionnaires by B&NES, a report will be produced to show the outcome of the consultation and the consultant's report. The conclusions of the report will be considered by the Cabinet in due course in order that a decision can be taken whether to fund further work on the business case for the station.
SEG's information sheet making the case for reopening Saltford station and answering key questions/concerns can be downloaded here (word doc, opens in new window):
Saltford station campaign talks to Railfuture
On 22 February 2014 Duncan Hounsell, a spokesperson for the Saltford Station Campaign, gave a talk on the campaign and the case for reopening the station as part of the Metro West Rail Project to the Severnside branch of Railfuture, a national independent organisation that promotes a better passenger and freight network.
Railfuture-Severnside Secretary, Nigel Bray, commented "Recent decades have seen a tremendous growth in the popularity of rail travel locally. The trends give every confidence that a station at Saltford would be a success".
Pictured at the Railfuture event below are (left to right): Nigel Bray, (Secretary, Railfuture Severnside), Cllr Dr Anthony Clarke (B&NES Council), Duncan Hounsell (Saltford Station Campaign), Cllr Neil Butters (Chair of B&NES Council) & John Hassall (Chair, Railfuture Severnside).
Updating the Saltford Rail Station Study 2000 by Steer Davies Gleave for B&NES (June 2013)
In 2000 the transportation consultants Steer Davies Gleave carried out a desk-based study into a rail station at Saltford for B&NES Council. Duncan Hounsell has produced a response paper to that study for the station campaign and compares its conclusions in 2000 with the position in 2013. You can download the paper here: Steer Davies Gleave 2000 - Updated sitrep by Saltford Station Campaign (doc).
Metro West - Station Campaign addresses B&NES Cabinet (April 2013)
This is a shortened version of the 3-minute speech by Duncan Hounsell of the Saltford Station Campaign to the B&NES Cabinet on 10th April 2013:
"The West of England Local Transport Body (LTB) (comprising B&NES Council, Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council, South Gloucestershire Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership) was formed in March as a prerequisite to receiving devolved major transport funding from the Department for Transport. At its meeting on 13 March 2013, it prioritised schemes against criteria of affordability, minimum cost threshold, and deliverability. The top two priorities agreed were the Greater Bristol Metro phases 1 and 2. The "new stations package" (including Saltford station) has also reached the agreed project shortlist. Construction at Saltford is estimated by the LTB to take place in the period 2018/19 to 2023/24 but earlier should other funding opportunities become available and subject to a business case. The new stations will form part of the Greater Bristol Metro project or "Metro West" as it is to be called."
"The Metro West rail project which includes Saltford Station is included in Network Rail's Business Plan for Control Period 5 (2014-2019) and Network Rail Specifications (Western). This is the first time that Metro West and a station at Saltford has appeared in public rail industry documents. A station at Saltford also appears in the "refresh" or update of the West of England Partnership's Joint Local Transport Plan (JLTP3)."
"It was in June last year that B&NES Cabinet agreed a budget of £100,000 to undertake a High Level Option Assessment for Saltford Station to develop the business case and take Saltford to GRIP level 2 of Network Rail's 8-stage process for railway development. There has been a short delay in commissioning this work because of uncertainties around the awarding of the GW Rail Franchise, and changes to the Core Strategy."
"We are delighted that you are set to approve, this evening, expenditure of £124,000 as B&NES's contribution to the development of Phase 1 of the Metro West which includes half-hourly rail services for Keynsham, Oldfield Park and Bath Spa. The Saltford Station Campaign asks you to keep on-track, on time, and with green lights showing. Thank you for your support for Metro West and the reopening of Saltford Station."
Saltford station and the new West of England Local Transport Body (March 2013)
On 13 March 2013 the West of England Partnership formed a Local Transport Body to receive devolved funding from the Department for Transport and ensure it is devoted to local transport improvement schemes to address the present and anticipated local transport needs of the West of England. It will agree this through an evidence based prioritisation process.
Saltford station is within the shortlisted schemes to follow the priority programme of the Greater Bristol Metro phases 1 and 2 in the 2015-2019 period. There is also the possibility that projects like our station could be brought forward; the Station Campaign team are keeping a close watch on developments.
The West of England Partnership Joint Local Transport Plan was also refreshed (updated) on 13th March and it now includes a specific reference to Saltford station. This is important as an objective of the Core Strategy (that sets the economic and planning strategy for this area's development from now until 2029) is to "Deliver well connected places accessible by sustainable means of transport" and the Joint Local Transport Plan (including proposals for the Greater Bristol Metro Scheme) is a key document within the Core Strategy.
B&NES to investigate other possible locations for a reopened Saltford station (March 2013)
At the full B&NES Council meeting on 4th March 2013, the Conservative Group moved an amendment headed "Changes to Core Strategy - Land at Keynsham East" as follows:
"To request that Cabinet investigate all possible locations for a reopened Saltford Station, including those with adequate parking facilities and which could also be accessible to residents of East Keynsham."
This amendment was accepted by the LibDem Group.
The Saltford Station Campaign, while unaware that this amendment had been tabled, was already aware of the proposition. The Station Campaign has no problem with all possible locations being considered but the focus at this time is the existing Saltford station site on Bath Hill. We feel that good access on foot for the majority of Saltford's residents is an important consideration.
The Core Strategy is the economic and planning strategy for this area's development until 2029.
Great Western franchise update (January 2013)
The Department for Transport (DfT) announced on 31 January that it had scrapped the bidding competition for the Great Western rail franchise. It is awarding First Great Western a two year extension to its current contract and this will run to end 2015 by which time the electrification of the line by Network Rail will be well underway.
The franchise competition was suspended on 3 October 2012, following the discovery of significant technical flaws in the way the rail franchise process was being conducted. DfT halted the award of the West Coast rail franchise pending the completion of two reviews: (i) where the West Coast franchise competition went wrong, and (ii) a wider review of the whole franchise process including the Great Western franchise which was paused until the reviews were completed.
It is not anticipated that the cancellation of the Great Western franchise process will prevent the Greater Bristol Metro project from proceeding.
It is hoped, therefore, that this should not affect unduly the reopening of Saltford station - the station campaign group has maintained that work on reopening Saltford station need not wait for stage 2 of the Greater Bristol Metro project; there is a large, ready and willing customer base in Saltford ready to use the station.
Bristol's Mayor backs Saltford station (December 2012)
On 12 December 2012 George Ferguson met with Duncan Hounsell and Chris Warren of the Saltford Station Campaign at the first meeting of the West of England Joint Transport Executive since George Ferguson's election as Mayor of Bristol. He told the Saltford station campaigners "I am a great supporter of the Greater Bristol Metro Rail Project. A reopened Saltford station can be part of that."
George Ferguson said at the meeting that he looked forward to working with the neighbouring local authorities on transport issues on a basis of equal status and mutual respect. The Mayor heard an update on rail developments including the Greater Bristol Metro Rail Project and the new stations package.
Duncan Hounsell said "The meeting was told that the Greater Bristol Metro project is expected to contribute £153 million to the local economy by 2030, and that fresh calculations show the cost-benefit ratio for the scheme to be excellent."
Chris Warren said "A Greater Bristol Rail Metro network, along the lines of the London Overground system, needs stations. Reopening Saltford station is firmly part of the Metro plans."
B&NES Council agrees to hold consultation on station (November 2012)
B&NES Council Cabinet agreed on 14 November to the request from the Saltford Station Campaign for a public consultation in Saltford on the reopening of our station. B&NES will undertake a consultation on the proposal once they have a better understanding from the work of their consultants of the size and cost of providing car parking for the station. They expect to receive the consultant's report in early 2013.
B&NES Council has commissioned consultants to work through stages 1 (output definition) and 2 (pre-feasibility) of Network Rail's GRIP ('Guide for Rail Investment Projects') process for railway development. This work for Saltford is expected to be completed in March. The GRIP process envisages a pause for reflection after stages 1 and 2. The promised public consultation will follow later once all the issues are fully understood.
Following the second public meeting held on 25 October 2012 concerning the proposed re-instatement of Saltford station where a range of views were expressed by residents, the campaign put a formal request to B&NES Council's Cabinet. The campaign asked B&NES Council for a detailed information sheet on the facts and issues surrounding the proposals with a consultation to be put to the residents of Saltford.
Our original petition of the village in November 2011 revealed a significant majority of households in favour of the station. The Saltford station campaign wants residents to be as fully informed about the proposed new station as is reasonably possible and for all residents to have the opportunity to give their views to B&NES Council. This way we can ensure that the overall design and implementation of the station can mitigate or overcome any potential problems as much as is practically possible and deliver what is in the best interests of the wider community of Saltford.
Saltford station and non-car access to the River Avon (October 2012)
B&NES Council's Economic and Community Development Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel held an 'Inquiry Day' on 31 October 2012 at the Guildhall to discuss the recommendations contained within the River Corridor Report that was produced to advise Cabinet on the future role that the Council can play in its potential role as a force for regeneration for economic, social, and environmental purposes.
The Saltford station campaign was represented by Duncan Hounsell who addressed the panel to highlight how our reopened station in conjunction with the new Bristol Metro service would provide useful non-car access to the River Avon's leisure facilities. The River Corridor Group website is at www.rivercorridorgroupbath.co.uk.
2nd Public meeting about Saltford station (October 2012)
Around 200 attended the second public meeting in Saltford Hall about the proposed reopening of Saltford railway station on the evening of 25th October 2012. Organised by Saltford Parish Council this gave residents an opportunity to express their concerns and aspirations for the station.
Chaired by Nigel Hutchings, Regional Affairs Director of GWE Business West, the panel taking questions from the audience comprised: B&NES Council cabinet member for transport Cllr Roger Symonds, B&NES Transport & Planning Policy Group Manager Peter Dawson, Saltford Station Campaign leader Chris Warren, B&NES ward councillor for Saltford Cllr Mathew Blankley, and Saltford resident Reg Williams.
There was robust questioning of the panel from residents who expressed concerns, for example, over car-parking and the safety of vehicle access from the A4. At the end of the Question Time session, many hands went up to indicate that they would be regular users and would walk to the station when opened.
The station campaign felt this was another step forward on the journey towards our reopened station whilst recognising that further consultation with residents was necessary. It was an important and useful opportunity to hear the views of those residents who have concerns so that where possible these can be addressed with the re-instatement of our station to ensure that we have a community asset providing modern integrated transport solutions for the village.
Greater Bristol Metro and the new 'City Deal' - good news for our station (July 2012)
Details of the new 'City Deal' were announced during a ministerial visit to Bristol by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, on 5th July 2012.
The West of England will be able to invest its own resources in critical infrastructure projects that maximise growth and will retain 100% of business rate growth in five Enterprise Areas for 25 years. This business rate income will be pooled into a £1bn economic development fund which will invest in more projects that maximise growth.
The important news that affects our station is that control over transport budgets will be given to council leaders who will need to set up a region-wide transport authority to co-ordinate and implement transport policy. In return, the Government will give the West of England a 10 year allocation of "local majors funding" to deliver the Greater Bristol Metro; greater control and freedom to deliver the Bus Rapid Transit Network, including the ability to recycle savings locally; and new powers over rail planning and delivery.
The West of England Partnership (WEP) Joint Transport Executive Committee put together the proposals for the £100M Greater Bristol Metro scheme and this incorporates the opening of new lines (e.g. Portishead to Bristol) and several new stations including Saltford station. This is very encouraging news for our campaign; the metro's half-hourly train service between Bristol and Bath will strengthen the business case for reopening our station.
Bristol's £100m Metro rail bid for Government cash includes Saltford station (June 2012)
The following are extracts from the Bristol Post story published on 22nd June 2012 (full story on the 'This is Bristol' website www.thisisbristol.co.uk):-
"A £100million bid to make Bristol's Metro rail dream a reality has gone to the Government. Passenger trains from Bristol to Portishead and new stations in Horfield, Ashley Down and Saltford are among the items on the shopping list of transport leaders who have put the Greater Bristol Metro Rail bid together. The plans have been handed to the Department for Transport at the same time as ministers and civil servants decide who will run the region's rail services over the next 15 years and what levels of service they will have to provide."
"The West of England Partnership - made up of Bristol and its three neighbouring councils - launched an official campaign at the start of the year to see improvements to local services included in the new franchise."
"The funding bid has come as the first steps are taken to create a new transport company to oversee and run train services in the Bristol area... There would also be cash available for the Henbury Loop in the north of Bristol, improvements to Bedminster station and new stations at Saltford, Horfield, Ashley Down and Ashton Gate."
The Saltford Station Campaign team made several representations to the West of England Partnership (WEP) Joint Transport Executive Committee concerning the inclusion of Saltford station in the Greater Bristol Metro project and the Dept. of Transport's consultation on the Great Western Franchise. We are delighted to see Saltford station included in this important railway project for the Greater Bristol area.
B&NES Council Cabinet votes for Saltford station! (June 2012)
On the evening of 13th June representatives of the station campaign delivered a copy of the station petition to the B&NES Council Cabinet which then voted unanimously to allocate a budget of £100,000 to undertake a 'High Level Option Assessment' of a reopened station at Saltford, i.e. to develop the business case.
In order to develop the business case for the new station the Council shall engage experts to work with Network Rail and the new operator for the Great Western Franchise. An initial £100,000 (funded from the Council's Revenue Budget Contingency) will be invested to develop the business case to the next stage, 'High Level Option Assessment' (GRIP, 'Guide for Rail Investment Projects', stage 2), with a further £150,000 to £200,000 (for which further approval will be required) to take the project to Detailed Design (GRIP stage 4).
Initial studies completed for B&NES Council by consultants have provided enough evidence for the Council to work formally with the rail industry and to build up the business case for reopening Saltford station. The business case will take into account economic, social and environmental impacts. Consultants have established that there is capacity on the line between Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa for a new station at Saltford. Independent computer modelling suggests that a reopened station will produce new net revenue for the railway.
This important and welcome Cabinet decision on 13th June follows the announcement by the Liberal Democrat administration of B&NES Council on 23 April 2012 concerning the Council's role as "Promoter" for the reopening of Saltford station. The following is from that announcement:-
The Liberal Democrat administration of B&NES Council has instructed officers to put Saltford station into the Council's Forward Plan. This first step will lead to the Council being the "Promoter" of the project.
Funding will be identified to get the project to Network Rail's 'GRIP 4' stage of development at which time funding for the construction of the station will need to be identified.
Funding could come from a number of different sources. Construction could be funded by Network Rail, by the rail franchise operating company, by the Council, or through Department for Transport funds. The administration aims to get to this stage as soon as possible.
Saltford Station can be delivered with the increased cross Bristol services (1/2 hourly frequencies) delivered as part of the 'Bristol Metro' project. This will give the potential for one additional station between Bristol and Bath, namely Saltford. The timescale for delivery was always assumed to be 2019 - 2023. However we have not waited for this timescale. We have already commissioned Halcrow to look at the possibility of opening this station. Their report which we will publish shortly will take us past the First 'GRIP' stage, as we know where the station will be located, required to deliver this project.
This important support from B&NES Council including its decision to be "promoter" is a major milestone in our campaign; we are extremely grateful to Council members and officers. The strong cross-party support for reopening Saltford station from the Council and its Lib Dem administration together with our MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg (who presented the petition to Parliament on 19th April 2012), is much appreciated.
Petition details: Key photographs and details of the impressive support in the village for the station shown by the petition can be found lower down this page.
PETITION (& results)
(Carried out November 2011. Delivered to Parliament on 19 April 2012 and to B&NES Council on 13 June 2012)
The Saltford Environment Group's station campaign petition of our village during November 2011 revealed support in at least 65% of Saltford's households for the reopening of Saltford railway station.
Approximately 30% of homes did not participate in the petition as either the house was empty (e.g. for sale) or the occupants were away when the petition team called, despite return visits. Of those residents that did speak to our petitioners, well over 90% supported the campaign.
The petition raised a total of 2,028 signatures in support of reopening the station. Of the 2,028 supporters who signed the petition, 13% (261) said they would be daily users and 25% (511) said they would use the station weekly. The remaining 1,256 would be either occasional users or could not say how often they might use the station. Once the rail service from a reopened Saltford station is up and running we would anticipate an even higher level of usage than indicated by the petition responses. This does not include other potential users such as students from Bath Spa University or residents of other villages nearby.
The petition was delivered by campaign members to our local MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, at the House of Commons on 19th April 2012. He then formally presented our petition to the House of Commons that evening at 6.38pm; you can read his statement to the House here: Hansard extract: Saltford Station 19.4.12 (doc - opens in new window).
The petition was also presented to the B&NES cabinet on 13th June 2012 who then voted to work formally with the rail industry and, as station "promoter", to build the business case for reopening Saltford Station.
A huge thank you to all the 30+ petition volunteers and to everyone who signed to support this important campaign.
Two platforms more likely than "Platform Road" design (single platform) for a new Saltford station (June 2012)
Early on in our campaign we looked at the possibility of a "Platform Road" design (one platform + loop line) for the reopened station. We thought that this might have the potential to give Saltford a station design that is more cost-effective than a 2 platform alternative. We saw practical advantages for the rail operator as it would provide the means to divert trains out of the main line rail traffic during times when the re-positioning of priority trains is required.
However, we understand from rail industry experts that this would not be feasible as it would generate additional and significant track and signalling costs and may have the effect of reducing capacity; the simple two platform design (one for each direction) with a footbridge is the most likely layout for Saltford.
Supportive letters (April 2012)
We should like to thank all those who have written letters of support to local newspapers, politicians and key organisations since the campaign was first launched in 2011. For reference, to see our most recent document giving advice and contact addresses for such letters, click here to download: letter writing guidance (version April 2012) (word doc, opens in new window).
Great Western franchise specification (April 2012)
The Department for Transport has consulted on the specification that will be provided to shortlisted bidders for the next Great Western franchise starting 2013 (and running for 15 years). The deadline for submitting consultation responses was 31st March 2012.
It was anticipated that the successful bidder would be announced in December 2012, with the contract commencing in April 2013. [Later Update: However, this has been delayed due to problems with the rail franchise process leading to a review of that process.]
In addition to the Station Campaign itself, Don Foster MP (Bath), the West of England Partnership, Bath & North East Somerset Council, Saltford Parish Council, Bath Spa University, South West Transport Network, Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance and others responded to the consultation in favour of reopening our station.
A big thank you to all who submitted supportive responses.
Campaign addresses West of England Joint Transport Executive Committee (March 2012)
Campaign representatives attended the West of England (WEP) Joint Transport Executive Committee public meeting on 7.3.12 and presented our briefing paper making the case for reopening the station. Duncan Hounsell, on behalf of the campaign, said we welcomed the findings by WEP's consultants that there was capacity on the network to provide an additional stop for Saltford and that WEP's response to the Dept. of Transport's consultation on the Great Western Franchise would include our station as a priority in the Bristol Metro Project. He said there was a large, ready and willing customer base in place now for the station's reinstatement to be brought forward sooner rather than later.
Key support for station (March 2012)
Bath Spa University has expressed its key support (Feb & Mar 2012) to the campaign:-
"Our travel survey taken in November 2011 showed that approximately 24% of staff and approximately 14% of students travel from Bristol and Keynsham... Provision of a station so close to the University would contribute to providing another sustainable travel mode for staff and students and visitor... We consider the economic, environmental and
social case to reopen Saltford railway station to be very strong."
This important support helps to further strengthen the economic case for our station. There are 4,600 students and staff on the Newton Park campus each weekday which is approximately 1.5 miles from the station. The number of residential places there is set to rise from 400 to 900.
A mini-bus link to and from a reopened Saltford station would be an alternative for many students and staff who currently drive to the site from Bristol through Saltford. Also students in residence could use the station to travel into Bristol for social activities. The creation of a cycle-path is another possibility, linking the station with the campus.
In addition, Bath Spa University Students' Union President, Richard Bigwood, has issued a public letter on 29.2.12 showing the union's strong support. The union says the station would allow access to cheaper accommodation outside of Bath for staff and students and offer part of a solution to the lack of supply of affordable housing in Bath. The letter can be downloaded here: Bath Spa University Students' Union support letter (pdf - opens in new window).
Our other key supporters as previously reported include Saltford Parish Council, Corston Parish Council, Sir Graham Watson MEP and local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg who has advised the campaign of his support and that he was happy to make any representations on the campaign's behalf. In May 2012 B&NES Councillor Mathew Blankely (Cons) told Radio Bristol's Steve Yabsley "how proud we all are in Saltford" of Saltford Environment Group's "outstanding work... the campaign has gone from strength to strength."
Original campaign leaflet (November 2011)
You can download the original leaflet that was distributed to all homes in Saltford during November 2011. The leaflet gives information on the what, why now, positive financial impacts, opportunities etc that the campaign promoted at the time. Click here:- Campaign information leaflet (Nov 2011) (pdf, opens in new window)
Saltford signalman Dave Boston on Radio Bristol (Sept 2011)
Radio Bristol DJ and local celebrity Steve Yabsley (pictured left) recorded an article on 12 September 2011 about Saltford Station with Chris Warren and interviewed Dave Boston (pictured right) who was the signalman at Saltford box for four years in the 1950s. Dave also operated the 'box at the famous Bath Junction where the Somerset and Dorset Railway joined the Midland line.
Dave recalled his time operating the signals in and around Bath and gave an idea of what a lovely spot Saltford Station was (see our archive & photo gallery where you can also see Dave operating the signal box in the 1950s). Chris was able to tell Steve all about the campaign to reopen Saltford Station and the benefits it would give to the village and surrounding area.
The recording was broadcast by Radio Bristol on Monday 19th September 2011.
First campaign meeting held 6th September 2011, Saltford Hall
Over 30 campaign supporters attended the Parish Council meeting before the campaign meeting to make representations to the Council about the importance of bringing back Saltford Station as an investment for Saltford's future.
The Parish Council voted by an overwhelming majority to support our campaign whilst being mindful of the need to ensure any concerns of local residents were addressed and to ask B&NES to consider acting as the promoter of a station in negotiations with Network Rail and that B&NES prepares a 'Project Inception Report' for Network Rail at the earliest opportunity.
The Parish Council voted unanimously to ask B&NES to do all in its power to protect the site from any site development that may adversely affect the possibility of the reopening of the station.
The campaign meeting then re-convened in another room in the hall to discuss plans and logistics for the campaign including the establishment of a working group and arrangements for a petition. The campaign was delighted with the backing given by the Parish Council in passing the resolutions of support.
First public meeting held on 26th July 2011: