Green campaigners demand action over cycle and bus routes  

Green travel campaigners are calling for changes to construction of the new Ashley Down railway station, amid concerns about the impact on bus and cycle travel.

Building work for the new station, due to be opened in 2024, will result in parts of the Concorde Way cycle route being made narrower.  And work to relocate two bus stops is unlikely to happen until after the station is open.

City Council cabinet member for transport Don Alexander said the station construction cannot be held up because related works are not in place.

But Bishopston and Ashley Down Green councillor Emma Edwards is calling for the construction plan to be changed, so all the work can be done as part of the current build.

She’s concerned the Concorde Way cycle route, which is currently closed along this stretch to allow for the station construction, will be narrowed by 90cm where it passes the station. She says delaying widening of the cycle path will cause further disruption and cost at a later date.

She said: “This is a key cycle corridor regularly used by about 1,000 people a day and reducing the width to two metres in places — while significantly increasing the volume of people walking and cycling on it — is bound to cause conflict and problems.

“The administration’s casual dismissal of this leaves me very concerned about their commitment to active travel. Every effort should be made to get it right the first time rather than having to close this busy path all over again for future repairs that will be more expensive and complex to carry out once the station is complete.”

“I’m pleased the station is progressing but it sems the bus connections and parking have not been worked out fully.”

She has been meeting with local people and says she will continue to lobby WECA and the City Council.

Councillor Alexander said the problem is a very large bank along one side of the cycle path, which the station needs to take up in order to make it accessible.

He said: “There’s absolutely no way we could or would delay the building of this station because of the loss of a small amount of the path.”

He said they were looking at future changes to the bank, to enable the cycle path to be widened later. 

“It’s quite expensive and there are some structural things, there are a number of trees and it will need to have a supporting wall. So it’s not a quick thing. But we’re looking at that now to make sure Concorde Way is the absolute best piece of infrastructure it can be for walkers and cyclists, because we know that it’s very heavily used.”

Councillor Alexander said both the council and WECA were on board with relocating bus stops, but that will happen only after other work on the train station is completed.

He said: “It’s a matter of sequencing: at some point something’s got to happen first, and then something’s got to happen second.”

Christina Biggs, from Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways, said Bristol City Council should work with the West of England Combined Authority to relocate bus stops from the two routes that pass down Muller Road next to the new train station. This would be so people can easily switch from a bus to a train during the same journey.

She said: “We have a rail network that doesn’t cover the whole of the city, but it doesn’t take much thought to realise that if you could coordinate the buses that actually intercept with the railways, then you’ve suddenly extended your network at very little extra cost.”

The new Ashley Down train station is part of the MetroWest 2 project, which will later reopen the Henbury line to passenger trains and build two other new stations: at North Filton by the new arena and in Henbury. These will run regular services to Bristol Temple Meads.

Meanwhile the planned construction of a new train station at Henbury is being delayed because South Gloucestershire Council has not yet granted planning permission.