Despite South Gloucestershire Council declaring Climate Emergency, Jack Lopresti MP urging station improvements in the House of Commons, and local residents and commercial organisations crying for more public transport links, GWR have rebuffed yet another request for some extra services to stop at Pilning station, which could be used to create better connections to Bristol, Swindon, Gloucester, Newport and Cardiff for thousands of residents and commuters to Severnside.
In the message sent on behalf of GWR MD Matthew Golton, they write –
We don’t have any plans to add more station calls at Pilning. I know that this is disappointing but unless the Service Level Commitment is altered by the Department for Transport Pilning will continue to have two station calls a week, provided by our West fleet and not on our high speed InterCity Express Trains. We have the easement in place that allows travel to and from Severn Beach station on Pilning tickets which helps to extend opportunties, and we will review the timing of the calls, and make changes if we can; but the priority will be the mainline services. If change is possible I will let you know. We do not intend to ask Network Rail to make extensive investment in the station. They have limited funds and we want these prioritised to benefit as many customers as possible. This does not mean that we dont want to see improvements in your area, but for customers in the Pilning area this means focusing on the Severn Beach line.
The message closes with the words of encouragement –
We will always listen and we might be able to help, so don’t stop asking!
Severnside is one of many areas that can be classified as a “transport desert”, with businesses and residents relying heavily on private road transport.
Severn Beach is a relatively poorly served terminus station on a single-track non-electrified line; it has no car park. The bus service 625 that connects Severn Beach station to the surrounding area is operated by Stagecoach; however the current timetabling rules out any reasonable bus / rail interchange. Neither the bus route includes the nearby distribution park. Rail services to Bristol take around 40 minutes to reach Bristol Temple Meads (compared to Pilning’s 20 minutes). Under the MetroWest Phase 1B plans, the station should enjoy an hourly service by March 2023.
Due to our campaign’s tireless efforts, Pilning railway station now received a modest mention in WECA’s Joint Local Transport Plan (JLTP4). Network Rail have also finally admitted that a feasibility study needs to be conducted to define the station’s future. The green light for such study has to be given by GWR or South Gloucestershire Council. The message above demonstrates how GWR use their monopoly to nip in the bud any chances of Pilning benefiting form the new newly created Restoring Your Railway Fund. They seem to aim to ensure that the Pilning / Easter Compton area is excluded from the UK-wide (albeit with a focus on the North-East) rail improvement programme announced by the British Government earlier this month. As far as we can see, GWR’s lack of empathy can only be explained by their fear that the Pilning stop will become so popular that the new 12 minutes improvement on the London to Cardiff services might get slightly hampered!