Campaign Updates

A bid to secure improvements at Pilning station is among a number of schemes submitted to the Department for Transport’s Ideas Fund for restoring lost railway services to communities. Ten projects were successful in the first round of bidding (none in the Bristol or South Gloucestershire area), and bids for the second round closed on 19 June 2020.  The Pilning bid is centred on reinstatement of the station footbridge, which was controversially demolished by Network Rail in November 2016 to make way for overhead electrification wires, cutting off access to the westbound platform and rendering the station’s service “one way only”.  Reinstatement of the footbridge, above the overhead lines, would enable a two-directional train service to be restored at the station, and would pave the way for future much-needed service improvements.  Despite its reduction to two trains a week (Saturdays only) in only one direction, the station’s recorded usage has…

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A blanket email from GWR, dated 30 March 2020 I wanted to drop you a quick note to confirm that FirstGroup and the Department for Transport (DfT) have signed a new Direct Award to continue operating GWR from 1 April 2020, when the current agreement comes to an end.  This will run for three years, with the option for the government to add a further year and will run concurrently with the six months Emergency Measures Agreement now in place with the DfT.   This will mean we can use our experience of managing the route over many years to keep the railway running for key workers and essential travel. Our responsibility right now is to run a service that can be relied upon, and this is where our current focus lies. It is also important to take a moment to look forward to a time when things return to normal,…

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Pilning Station Group responded to WECA Bus Consultation. We request that a bus service is provided to connect with the weekly train service at Pilning Station, as at the moment, there is no public transport suitable for rail / bus interchange, despite the growing numbers of Pilning passengers. The majority of passengers arrive at Pilning either by walking from the 625 bus stop at Swanmoor Lane, walking from Severn Beach railway station, or by car. A provision of the bus service that coincides with the Pilning train arrival and departure would be very welcome. Read our proposed new times for a Pilning Station bus / rail interchange here

Email from Pilning Station Group to Jack Lopresti MP Dear Jack, I am writing to you to express our concerns over the local transport arrangements in Severnside, particularly in the light of the new Arena at the former Filton Airfield being approved for development earlier today.I understand that the plans have been approved by the planning committee, and Bristol City Council decided that it should be referred to the Secretary of State. However, there were concerns raised by Highways England that the Filton location will have a negative impact on the already congested road network, in particular the Cribbs Causeway and Aztec West motorway junctions. https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/filton-arena-m5-traffic-council-3905771 Pilning residents will start feeling trapped very soon – once the speed restriction measures on the B4055 have been introduced fully, bringing the speed down to 20mph through the villages and 40mph along Marsh Common Road it will probably be quicker and easier to get…

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30 January 2020 30 January 2020 Thank you for your message. I have passed your response to the Group, and a further clarification has been requested – I would very much appreciate another prompt response from you – we are holding a stakeholder meeting in the next few days, and it would be good to be able to provide an explanation. Kind regards, Pilning Station Group 14 February 2020 Please could you kindly provide the clarification as discussed previously?  Jack Lopresti MP spoke at the House Of Commons yesterday, reiterating the point that regular service must be restored to Pilning railway station (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-02-13/debates/D9EDEDFE-1305-4F7B-85E2-5DEC1BE1674C/FebruaryAdjournment#contribution-41DDEC76-117E-4B10-88E1-9F88654F3457). This is likely to put some wheels in motion. The DfT will need to gather the relevant information to make an informed decision. As things stand, the onus is currently on South Gloucestershire Council to request that Network Rail should conduct a feasibility study and present the results…

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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…

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*** Pilning Station Group were forwarded this message, which we publish unedited. This message highlights the importance of Pilning station, which would facilitate Thornbury residents’ commute to Bristol, Newport and Cardiff *** Dear Luke I trust you are well. I am writing with regard to the WECA JLTP4 Consultation draft, picking up on previous correspondence that we’ve had regarding provision for rail returning to Thornbury, acting as both a Thornbury resident and member of FOSBR (Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways). When we last spoke back in 2018 regarding this, you had written to Network Rail to ask them their intentions about the Tytherington line.  Did they ever come back to you with a response?  I know they have been working on relaying track in the headshunt at Grovesend recently, which suggests freight activity recommencing. Recent changes to the JLTP4 Consultation draft added in a new phrase about “new links to…

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The campaign to improve Pilning station and its current skeleton service received a major boost on 13th February, when MP Jack Lopresti highlighted the issue in a speech about developing Severnside. … there are some issues that need addressing. First, a regular service must be restored to Pilning railway station. We are lucky enough in my constituency to have the Wave, the first inland surfing lake of its kind in England, on the edge of Pilning and Easter Compton. That amazing facility opened recently and will attract thousands of tourists. If we do not want people to drive there, which would put pressure on rural road networks with limited capacity, it would be sensible to ensure that they have a reliable rail service, especially because there is a railway station already on the door step” Full text can be viewed here The quote is also available to view on YouTube How many stations get their case for…

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Dear Jack, We were greatly encouraged by the commitment to rail demonstrated by the Government’s announcement yesterday that HS2 is to go ahead. The Prime Minister was absolutely right to say that this country is being held back by its inadequate infrastructure and that the transport revolution is local, because it must be local. He added that the government will unite and level up the country with local improvements. This is so relevant to Pilning! He also said that the government is embarking on a massive programme of investment in local transport, and that there will be more details in the Budget. In view of this, we are anxious to ensure that when the additional funding to support the Government’s ‘transport revolution’ is announced in the coming weeks (including the Budget in March), Pilning station will be included, especially taking into consideration the recent successes of the campaign to improve…

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When questioned by they would not stop IETs at Pilning, GWR came up with the following excuse: – Giving a station clearance for IETs to set down / pick up at a station requires a significant amount of work and is particularly in-depth for this type of rolling stock – it includes a variety of safety checks, measurements, calculations, upgrading of systems and software, and physical testing. We can fulfil our service level commitment by stopping an alternative service at Pilning formed of stock that already has the necessary clearance in place. Is this enough to put us off demanding a better service? NOPE! Here’s what we wrote back: – Thank you – but this is far too vague to be an acceptable reply, and I cannot believe that it can be so difficult to stop a new-design train at a station which already meets the stringent present-day requirements for…

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If you can’t wait to get to Bristol on Saturday 28th to spend your Christmas money, gift tokens etc, don’t expect to get the train from Pilning – they’re suspended due to engineering works. Rail replacement taxis will run from Pilning station to Bristol Parkway (change for Temple Meads) at 08:00 and 15:15 (!!)  In the other direction, taxis leave Bristol Parkway for Pilning at 07:30 and 14:45 – train connections leave Temple Meads at 07:00 and 14:28 respectively. So at least that day we have a service in both directions! NB – the taxi may not come right up to the station to pick up – we suggest you wait at the bottom of the station approach road and flag it down if it goes past you! Luckily, we’ve been told that there is Zero Chance for Pilning to be served by Bloodhound LSR, so at least taxis will definitely stop there!

21 December 2019 marked Pilning’s Darkest Day in its recent history as station users had another hour of their Saturday excursion time shaved off. The 15:34 service was replaced with the 14:33 afternoon stop. Why, you ask. All because GWR refused to add the Pilning stop to their shiny new electric trains’ onboard computer system. We asked the authorities to intervene, but to no avail. Pilning Challenges will be adjusted accordingly – watch out for the announcements! Here is your new pocket timetable, valid from Saturday 21/12/19.

Pilning Station Group has joined the call to reprieve the bus link between Cribbs Causeway, Aust and Chepstow, which connects with buses to Newport. With no prior consultation and just one month’s notice, bus operator Stagecoach is rerouting the Severn Express service from 5 January 2020 to cut out stops at Cribbs Causeway and Aust, depriving people of a vital link for work, college and leisure trips. Olga Taylor, Chair of Pilning Station Group said: We have already lost our direct rail service through the Severn Tunnel to Wales, with the closure of Pilning Station’s westbound platform. Now this area is losing its only other public transport alternative, which will create real difficulties for those who rely on it and will put more cars onto already-congested roads. We urge people to sign the petition at http://chng.it/JDNtxRcqF5 calling on Stagecoach to think again”. Update 9 December 2019. It was brought to…

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We love the latest Pilning station stats published by the Railway Data Centre! So we are currently the 1011st busiest station, even though we only have 2 services per week. That’s 4.6 passengers per service, compared with Patchway’s 9.13! The increase in passenger numbers at Pilning since 1997 is…. 895.83%! Woohoo!!!!!

The Petition to reopen Pilning Station’s 2nd platform and make it a request stop closed early because of a General Election. The petition was set up at the end of August 2019 and was due to run until 28 February 2020. Over 500 signatures from all over the country were collected in the first few days. We joked that should the petition raise over 100,000 signatures, the Parliament would have to debate Pilning’s parliamentary service! During the time when the petition was open, Pilning Station Group received a letter of support from Jack Lopresti MP saying that he believes that Pilning is a neglected station with great potential and that it could be invaluable in facilitating commuting to the Severnside Enterprise Area, and also to allow tourists to travel to the new Wave facility in a sustainable manner. We also went into an argument with GWR over their decision not…

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Pilning Station Group would like to thank Wikipedia contributor Mattbuck, who spent many hours raking through various Pilning station related documents and updating our Wikipedia page. We are particularly pleased that the article on Pilning station met a core set of Wikipedia editorial standards and was highlighted as a Good Article. This means that it is well written, contains factually accurate and verifiable information, is broad in coverage, neutral in point of view, stable, and illustrated by relevant images with suitable copyright licences.

Pilning Station Group submitted an application for GWR Customer and Communities Improvement Fund for a modest amount of £175, which would enable us to run the 4th season of Pilning Challenges. You can download the application from here. GWR will now review all the bids and shortlist a few for further evaluations. The preferred projects will be sent to the DfT for approval. Source: https://www.gwr.com/about-us/supporting-our-community/customer-and-communities-improvement-fund

Dear Sir, We would like to bring your attention to the appalling situation at Pilning railway station on the South Wales Main Line. As you are probably aware, Pilning was a major transport hub for bringing farm produce from the South West to London, and for providing transport links to and from Wales via the Severn tunnel. However, the prosperity of Pilning station suffered a setback with the opening of the Severn Bridge. Years of neglect and decay followed: in 1987 the station’s lighting was dismantled and not replaced, meaning that from then on only services operating during daylight hours could stop at the station. In 2006, with the introduction of the new franchise, Pilning’s service was cut to “one a day in each direction”. In 1990 a local resident Jonathan King started a campaign to bring the service back to the station. His campaign was picked up by other…

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Ongoing. We campaign for service improvements at Pilning Railway Station – platform lighting, more stopping trains and the reinstatement of the footbridge to enable westbound travel. Click here to read the latest update (March 2019).

January 2019. We presented a business case to GWR asking them to stop more Saturday trains at Pilning from May 2019. We also asked Jack Lopresti MP to support our campaign and to write to GWR in the hope that they would consider improving services at Pilning station. (Update April 2019)A letter from received from GWR Managing Director to Jack Lopresti MP: “Due to the low footfall at Pilning, proximity to the well-served Severn Beach station and its position on the South Wales to London main line, we don’t feel it is currently in customer’s best overall interests to make changes to Pilning’s service. […] Located on a two-track railway, line capacity is at premium at Pilning […] We will not be increasing calls at Pilning beyond the commitments set out by the Department for Transport.” #FAIL

Office of Rail and Road published the Annual Station Usage statistics on 11 December 2018. Pilning has shot up from the 3rd least-used station in 2016 to the respectable 2525th place in the charts (out of the total of 2559). There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are no longer in the bottom 10 (or even 30)!

October 2018. We hear Angel Road station in North London is closing in May 2019 when it’s replaced by the new Meridian Water station nearby. This will make its footbridge redundant…..and as it spans overhead lines it would be the right height for Pilning. If you look at AllTheStation’s video filmed there, it’s pretty modern and all-steel, so hopefully it’d be relatively easy to dismantle, move and re-erect it. At present the two staircases face opposite ways, but one would imagine that could be changed pretty easily. (Update 24 January 2019) – Of 27 responses to the DfT consultation, 21 urged that the footbridge be dismantled and re-erected at Pilning station. Please read our press-release here: –ANGELS COULD BRING BACK PILNING STATION FOOTBRIDGE! (Update April 2019) – The following correspondence was received from Network Rail: A message from NR Western Community Relations Manager to Pilning Station Group: “There are no…

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August 2018. We asked GWR to repeat last year’s Sunday Special Service event, by stopping the Cardiff Central to Brighton service at Pilning on September the 2nd. Unfortunately, GWR’s Special Events Team rejected our request without offering a reason. #FAIL

In May 2017 Pilning suddenly disappeared from the “stations column” of the GWR timetables, giving the impression that it had closed completely and that there was no longer a station between Patchway and Severn Tunnel Junction. The only reference to Pilning in the whole booklet was in a couple of obscure footnotes in very small print – this made it virtually impossible to see which trains called at the station, and indeed it appeared as if the station had closed altogether. A campaign was duly launched to get the station back on the map and shown properly in the timetable. Whilst Pilning went AWOL in GWR’s booklets, Pilning Station Group created our own Pilning Journey Planners and (with GWR’s permission) distributed them at Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads stations. In May 2018 we were delighted to see Pilning Station back on the map and back in the timetables!  #SUCCESS

February – April 2018. From 6 January 2018, GWR replaced our increasingly-popular 13:34 service with one at 15:34. This is welcome in one way as it allows people two more hours in Bristol (or wherever else we are going) – but we had urged GWR to retain the 13:34 as well. This would enable Pilning passengers to make a later start to our journey than the 08:33, and crucially would allow visitors from elsewhere to arrive on the 13:34 and depart on the 15:34, maybe enjoying a lunchtime drink and a meal at the Plough Inn a few minutes’ walk away. GWR admitted that there was no actual timetabling reason why an extra call could not be provided. However, they are concerned that an extra stopping service would not generate enough interest among passengers, thus making GWR lose any profit they may (or not) be making on Pilning station already.…

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July 2017 – March 2018. We created Pilning Challenges to encourage more passengers to have an adventure and explore the area. The passenger footfall figured doubled year-on-year! #SUCCESS

August 2017. We asked GWR to stop a Sunday Special Service (Cardiff Central to Brighton) at Pilning at 10:45 on August the 20th. The event proved very popular, as the extra service attracted more passengers than the station’s previous year’s footfall. #SUCCESS

November 2016 – June 2017. We promoted Pilning station to local residents, hoping to raise awareness of the station’s potential, and increase the passenger numbers to get Pilning out of the 10 least used stations.  We produced and distributed 2000 leaflets (thank you, FoSBR, for your very generous donation towards our campaign). Twitter account @PilningStation and the campaign website were set up. #SUCCESS