Plan for Bristol’s lost railway line to become a cycleway set to be turned down

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An ambitious plan to turn an empty former railway line into a cycleway through south Bristol is set to be rejected by council leaders – as they want to use it for a ‘multi-modal solution’ to the nightmare of the traffic in Brislington.

Bristol City Council leaders have said they don’t want to let cyclists and pedestrians use the ‘tramway’ – the old railway line running through Brislington which has not been used for almost 60 years – because they have their own plans for it.

The council’s exact plans for the old railway line are unclear, but despite Mayor Marvin Rees saying as part of his election campaign that it would not be used as a traffic bypass, and despite the announcement by cabinet minister Craig Cheney in November last year that there were ‘no road construction plans’ on the old railway line, which appears to still be on the table.

Read more: Bristol’s lost railway line and four ideas for its future

The saga of the ‘lost’ old railway line and what to do with it has plagued city planners and politicians for decades. The old North Somerset Railway is perhaps best known for the Pensford Viaduct, but by the time it reaches Bristol all that remains of the line is a cut and inaccessible path through suburban Brislington.

This runs from the Tesco entrance on Callington Road, under Talbot Road, between houses, under the A4 Bath Road next to the Lodekka, along the Tramway shopping park, under Sandy Park Road and emerges in roads and roundabouts- points around Sainsbury’s and the end of St Philips causeway.

Last August Bristol Live revealed the four options that were being considered and debated in Brislington and City Hall, for the ‘lost’ railway line, which saw its last train in the early 1960s.

One such idea was a project submitted last year by cycle route planners Greenways and Cycleroutes Ltd, to turn the old railway line into a cycle route – similar to the Bristol and Bath Railway Path through the east of Bristol.

One of the elements of this plan involved 50 freight units for commercial and commercial use on part of the tramway industrial zone located along the line, in order to create a new community along the new cycle path.

Both planning requests were temporary – Greenways is asking the council to only be allowed to use the line for three years, or until the council itself determines what it wants to do with the line. The plan has met with resistance from many people living along the line, who have said they fear opening the line will mean burglars could gain access to their gardens at night – and the police have also opposed it.

But the plan also had hundreds of people writing in support of it. Now the two planning applications are due to be decided next week by councilors on the Town Hall Planning Committee – and council officers have recommended that they both be refused.

The main reason given by council planning officers is that the old railway line is part of the council’s wider considerations for its larger plans for the A4 transport corridor.

Council leaders announced a consultation on this issue on how to improve transport between Bristol, Bath and Keynsham in August last year, and are expected to announce more details of what it has planned later this spring .



The proposed greenway for cyclists and pedestrians along the former North Somerset railway line in Brislington

However, council officials said no decision has yet been made, only that the ‘Callington Road Link’ – as the railway line is called in various previous plans – will be involved in one way or another. ‘another one. The planners’ report indicates that there are several options.

One option is to turn the old railway line into a relief route for traffic between the A4174 Ring Road at Callington Road Tesco and St Phillips Causeway. It could become a bus line, a new Metrobus line, or part of an unspecified future rapid transit system.

Either way, planning officers will tell councilors that giving permission to create even a temporary three-year cycleway “would establish its use as a cycleway” and would “harm the implementation of the known major transport scheme. as Callington Road link”. .

Read more: The new ring road and suburb that will change South Bristol forever

Council planners said the cycleway project itself was not detailed enough to get planning permission, but more so – they didn’t want to give permission for a cycleway because then it would have to be judged against any scheme they put forward for the old railway line – and that could mean a planning inspector deciding a cycle path was better anyway.

“In terms of traffic, the fundamental problem with the A4 is that between Hicks Gate and West Town Lane it performs both an orbital and a radial function, so it is very busy with many conflicting movements,” the report said. of the board, describing the daily traffic jam. which exists on this section of the A4 bordering Bristol.

“By providing alternative means of getting between the A4174 Callington Road bypass and St Phillips carriageway, the A4 Strategic Corridor Project, which is being prepared for public engagement, could release significant pressure on the West Town Lane junction, possibly allowing it to be simplified. and therefore to reduce congestion and improve environmental conditions for all users on the A4, whilst leaving more space for cycling or public transport along the A4 as well as the Callington Road Link added the council officer.

Read more: New hope for South Bristol’s missing Metrobus link

“Detailed work is underway to develop options for the best use of the disused railway alignment as part of the A4 strategic corridor project. As such, we consider that any decision to allow any particular solution for this corridor would be premature as it could undermine a range of alternative options that could potentially provide much better overall solutions to the transport problems of the South East. from Bristol and the wider A4. corridor to Bath, which is likely to see significant future development in both the BCC and Bath areas and North East Somerset.



A map published by Bristol City Council of the proposed routes of the public transport system

“Significant investment is underway and public commitment is expected to develop a preferred option that would allow a full business case to be submitted to funding agencies to enable the delivery of this key piece of infrastructure, with the support of residents. and improve the region,” the report adds.

“We consider that this proposal could jeopardize the major transport projects that have been prioritized to adapt to future sub-regional growth,” they added.

The councilors meet on March 16 to decide on the candidacies.

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Read more – from August 2021: start of the Bristol and Bath A4 corridor congestion relief project

Read more – From November 2021: Brislington Railway’s controversial A4 relief route plans scrapped

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