Consultant’s Report

Bristol City Council commissioned the rail consultancy, CH2M HILL, to look at the options and feasibility of a new station at Ashton Gate. Their report, Bristol New Stations High Level Assessment Study – Ashton Gate, was published by the Council in December 2014.

You can read the full report by clicking here. However, this is a brief summary:

Background
Ashton Gate station is part of Phase 2 of the MetroWest development and new stations package, subject to a business case and funding.

The Study
Two aspects were reported on:

  1. The station location, design and estimated construction costs
  2. Demand forecasts and initial economic benefits.

Location
The recommended site for a new station is at Barons Close, behind the Ford garage on Winterstoke Rd, on the Portishead to Tempe Meads railway line which is due to reopen in 2019

Design
The design is assumed to include: two platforms, bus shelter type shelters and automatic ticket machines. Three potential access configurations of the station are presented. The estimated costs, including a 40% contingency, of each are also given:

  1. Via Barons Close @ £4,618,062
  2. Via Barons Close using a level crossing @ £4,616,651
  3. Via Barons Close using a level crossing, plus a new access road via Ashton Drive @ £5,312,451

Option 1 is deemed to be the most favourable.

Demand Forecasts
The consultants predicted 213 passenger trips each day (67,000 a year) in 2022. This produced a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 0.98:1 whereas a BCR of 2:1 is required for Government funding. They concluded that there would be insufficient passengers predicted to use the station if developed as part of MetroWest Phase 1.

[How are the passenger forecasts calculated?
The forecast for Ashton Gate used standard rail industry techniques including the National Rail Travel survey, Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook , office of Rail Regulation passenger counts and local station surveys – as for other proposed MetroWest stations. The consultants also looked at existing local stations. In this case, usage data for Stapleton Road was used because it was considered to be a comparable station.]

We want Ashton Gate station built and opened as part of MetroWest 1.

We have serious concerns about the consultant’s low passenger forecasts:

  1. Low passenger growth predictions
    The percentage growth in rail passengers used in the forecast for future years is pessimistic bearing in mind current continued high rail passenger growth in the West of England area. Rail stations regularly exceed passenger predictions within a couple of years of opening.
  2. Ashton Gate Stadium
    The report states that footfall to the Ashton Gate Stadium is excluded because football and rugby matches are not daily. However, this fails to appreciate the fact that part of the current Stadium redevelopment is as a conference centre with a predicted attendance of 1,000 a day for three day periods. In particular the future use of Ashton Gate stadium for weekday concerts and conferences (circa 1,000,000 visits per annum including sporting events) has been excluded.
  3. Recreational visitors
    The area has a high level of visitors using recreational, eating and shopping facilities who would increase passenger numbers in the times outside of the Monday to Friday peaks . It is unclear from the report how if this flow has been used in the passenger forecast which appears to concentrate on peak hour journeys.
  4. Cyclists
    The omission of cyclists in the passenger forecasts in Table 3.4. One characteristic of the local area is a high and growing level of cycling both to work and for leisure and retail journeys. Bristol rail experiences a high level of cyclists using local trains and this will continue to grow with the advent of folding bikes and secure bike provision at stations. The consultants report shows no cyclists using the Ashton Gate station despite bike parking being planned as part of the proposal.

If a Council wish to build a station without Government funding, they would fund it by borrowing or by contributions from developers under the CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) scheme when planning permission is given.