Station Campaign Launched

Dec 2014 – The Friends of Ashton Gate Station grew out of a public meeting hosted by Bristol Sport at the Ashton Gate Stadium in December 2014. The meeting was attended by representatives of Bristol Sport, political parties and businesses as well as local councillors, transport campaigners and members of the public. This is the report of the meeting published by the Bristol Post:

“In less than five years more than one million visitors will travel each year between Aston Gate and the city centre. And without new public transport links, business leaders fear this could lead to traffic chaos.

This is why a small group of around 30 representatives pledged last night to join forces to drive an ambitious new campaign off the ground.

Their dream is to see the long-awaited Portishead line, which is planned to open in 2019, stop at a new station at Ashton Gate, near the stadium.

At the moment the line’s business plan, which has already been agreed, does not include provisions for this, so campaigners are going to have to work quickly.

The group also needs to attract funding – the project’s price has not been calculated but it is expected to run into millions.

An initial feasibility study has been undertaken by the city council to investigate the likely costs and benefits of a new station.

The former Ashton Gate station was served by the old Bristol to Portishead rail line, which closed to passengers in 1964.

But those at the campaign launch at Ashton Gate stadium last night said they did not think the old station would be suitable. Instead they said options were open and more research was needed before any definite proposals for the station’s location could be published.

Martin Griffiths, the chairman of Bristol Sport, which runs Ashton Gate and the clubs based there, Bristol City and Bristol Rugby, said he thought the new station was imperative.

He said: “This part of Bristol certainly needs improvements in public transport. This is an absolute economic and social necessity.

“Bristol Sport and Bristol City Council are keen to work together, along with all other interested parties, to ensure that a new rail facility is delivered at Ashton when the Portishead rail line is re-opened for public use in 2019 or as soon thereafter. Any such facility must form part of an integrated transport solution combining with other public transport services.

“It is crucial that there is the capability for the mass movement of people to and from the rebuilt Ashton Gate stadium, which, when it is completed in 2016, will be the largest conference venue in the South West.

“It is estimated that by 2019 it will attract a million visitors a year as a leading conferencing, event and sporting destination.”

It was decided that a steering group, consisting of residents groups and other business leaders, should be created.

Assistant mayor for transport councillor Mark Bradshaw was also at the meeting.

He said: “Network Rail has agreed to provide ‘passive-provision’ so that any of their works will not get in the way of a future rail station at Ashton Gate. In the meantime, Bristol City Council will help Bristol Sport to address travel pressures and look at potential for Park and Ride and other services.”

Campaigner Graham Living, 75, said he fully supported the idea.

He said: “I am behind this campaign, but what this campaign needs is more zeal. You need to think outside the box in getting more support.”

A Steering Group was set up in January and is meeting each month.