Government advisers want to concrete over
the Bristol to Severn Beach railway line and turn it into a
special bus route. They say the multi-million pound scheme
could be a way of solving some of the city's transport
It would mean tearing
up 13 miles of track and laying concrete channels to guide
buses that would be capable of running at up to
The line currently carries nearly 1,000
passengers a day.
The route would be called a busway
with the vehicles having small guidewheels fitted to the front
of ordinary buses, which would eliminate the need for the
driver to steer.
The buses could switch to roads at the
end of the concrete channels.
The proposals are
included within the £500 million Greater Bristol Transport
Study, an ambitious 26-year blueprint for the city and its
The introduction of concrete channels
is seen as a way of transforming under-used railway lines
which rely on large government subsidies.
Bristol Transport Study, which was commissioned by the local
authorities in the Bristol area, states guided buses would
lead to greater frequency and shorter waiting times on the
Bristol to Severn Beach route.
But any move to tear up
the train tracks is likely to be met with opposition from
The railway runs from Temple Meads through
Lawrence Hill, Montpelier, Redland, Clifton Downs, Avonmouth
and Severn Beach. It was opened in 1865 and was originally
called the Bristol Port Railway and Pier.
the South Gloucestershire councillor for Pilning and South
Beach, said that, while he was in favour of replacing
redundant railway lines, he did not believe the Bristol to
Severn Beach line was under-used enough to be
He said: "This is a proposal that has
happened in other parts of the country and I am not completely
averse to the idea of replacing redundant train lines but I
would prefer railways to be kept open and more people should
be encouraged to use them.
"This track could be made to
work and could be really valuable with more
"The Avonmouth train service is a great
treasure and it is a great shame that more people don't use
Members of the public are currently being asked
their views of the transport proposals. Final recommendations
from the study are expected by the end of the
Wessex Trains, which runs the railway, have
stressed the plan only makes a "long- term" recommendation for
a guided bus lane by 2031.
The company's franchise ends
in March. Companies are competing for the right to run a
larger Greater Western franchise which will initially be for
Wessex Trains' business manager Anne-Marie
Delrosa said: "It does need to be heavily consulted on -
obviously this would mean the closure of a rail
"Last year we had over 340,000 journeys on the
More than 50 branch lines across the UK are to
become "community railways" with private donors expected to
pick up the tab for maintenance.
Alistair Darling last year said the Government would not
subsidise these lines beyond 2009 unless they attracted more
The Government has already approved a
busway in Leigh, near Manchester, which will run on a disused
And it is also considering a busway from
Cambridge to St Ives while another scheme is proposed from
Luton to Dunstable in Bedfordshire.
But a Department
for Transport spokesman said there was no government agenda to
rip up suburban railways and replace them with bus
She said: "There is no presumption by us that
guided bus lanes are the best way forward. We take all local
circumstances into account."
The Evening Post reported
last month on other proposals included in the Greater Bristol
Transport Plan such as the building of a new ring road around
south Bristol within the next 10 years, further widening of
the M4 and M5 and three new park-and-ride