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Transport Secretary supports major project to improve rail services across the West of England

The Secretary of State for Transport visited Bristol Temple Meads railway station today (Thursday 27 June) to support plans to transform the region’s railways with more frequent services, new train stations and better rail connections across the West of England.

Chris Grayling MP, met with West of England Mayor Tim Bowles and Mark Langman, Network Rail’s managing director of Wales and Western, to discuss the Bristol East Junction project, which aims to dramatically improve capacity and performance on the rail network in and out of Bristol Temple Meads.

The scheme is a key part of the MetroWest plan to improve rail services across the region. It would provide the ability to operate half hourly services on the Severn Beach to Bath Spa and Westbury lines, half hourly services to Yate and beyond to Gloucester, and hourly services on the reopened Henbury line. It would also support our plans to open new train stations in Portishead, Henbury, Portway, North Filton, Ashley Down and Charfield.

Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, said: “The upgrade to Bristol East Junction is a vital part of the MetroWest programme to build a proper commuter rail network for Bristol. I hope it will make a real difference to congestion in the city as more commuters get the train in future.”

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “It’s fantastic to have the Transport Secretary’s support for the multi-million-pound upgrades at Bristol East Junction. I want the West of England to have the rail network it deserves to help reduce congestion, improve air quality and keep people moving. This is a really positive step in the right direction to deliver a transport network fit for the future.

“The work at Bristol East Junction will mean we can open new railway lines and stations, benefiting residents and helping our region to prosper. Rail is a key part of my ambition to improve public transport in the region, giving people more sustainable ways to travel.”

Bristol East Junction would also bring wider performance and reliability benefits for the new four trains an hour service between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington, cross country services to the Midlands, North and South West, regional services to South Wales, the South Coast and South West and freight services.

Mark Langman, Network Rail’s managing director of Wales and Western, said: “The Bristol East Junction upgrade will unlock further capacity on the network, building on the improvements that have recently been made. We have doubled the number of tracks between Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway, built new platforms at Bristol Parkway and completed the biggest ever resignalling scheme to improve reliability.

“It will also enable MetroWest with more services, driving economic growth in the city and wider region and offering residents a green alternative to travelling by car.

“The Transport Secretary’s support for the scheme gives a fantastic boost to the long-term vision for Bristol’s railway and will transform rail travel for passengers across the region.”

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “This support for Bristol’s rail network is welcome and fits with our ambitious vision for a better-connected Bristol based on a sustainable and inclusive economy. The new junction will enable additional rail capacity, making it a genuine alternative for more people to choose public transport to travel around the city. With our MetroWest and mass transit plans advancing, this is just the start of new junctions, stations and lines for Bristol making train travel more accessible for all.”

The Department for Transport is working with Network Rail to assess the business case for Bristol East Junction, and to unlock the funding request to deliver the scheme. The enabling works are anticipated to start in 2020 with construction taking place in 2021, subject to funding approval.

It is anticipated that the MetroWest scheme could add 1.6m passenger journeys per year once fully operational, and could bring more than an additional 50,000 people within the immediate catchment of the rail network.

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