Thornbury 2050: Rail transport

1. Greater Bristol Metro campaign

Why has Thornbury missed out on the MetroWest (Bristol), formerly Greater Bristol Metro Rail campaigns to bring improved rail links with Bristol? South Gloucestershire is one of the four councils which have launched the initiative yet Thornbury is conspicuous by its absence from their proposals. Imagine reaching the centre of Bristol reliably in 30 or 40 minutes rather than 60 with a service every 30 minutes! Commuting into Bristol or Yate for employment would be easier and more enjoyable. Thornbury would be able to attract visitors from a far wider area. So why not do it?

Closed to passengers in 1944 and goods around 1966, the Thornbury branch line remains substantially intact and today continues to serve the quarry at Tytherington. A return to passenger traffic would require a comparatively modest capital outlay to improve signalling, upgrade a level crossing and construct a rudimentary station. One only has to look at the phenomenal success of the Severn Beach line to realise what might be achieved.

Are the costs considered too great or are the benefits too small to make the investment worthwhile? Or has South Gloucestershire decided yet again to kowtow to the BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody) tendency in Thornbury and leave the town in glorious isolation?

2. Our politicians responses

Surprise, surprise! Steve Webb has hitched his wagon (please excuse the pun) to the Greater Bristol Metro campaign by cosying-up in a cross-party alliance with 19 MPs from around the South West, including Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti and Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore. The Gazette trumpets his support for a new hourly service from Severn Beach to Bath Spa and from Portishead to Severn Beach and Temple Meads from 2013. Apparently he welcomes calls on the Department for Transport to increase services for commuters in Yate and Severn Beach, including half-hourly connections for Yate by extending Weston-super-Mare to Bristol Parkway services with a new turn-back facility.

Nothing for Thornbury then; not even as part of some longer-term vision for rail transport in the region? Not unless a carefully worded afterthought is intended to offer us hope:-

"I will continue to press the Department for Transport to look hard at upgrading the whole rail system around the Bristol and South Gloucestershire area."
Dream on Thornbury!

I'm beginning to wonder whether strategic thinking is somehow incompatible with the Lib-Dem mentality!