Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb lobbies government for rail upgrade

First published in News by

AN MP has lobbied the coalition Government to fund a major upgrade to train services in South Gloucestershire.

Thornbury and Yate representative and Minister for Pensions Steve Webb has struck a cross-party alliance with 19 MPs from around the South West, including Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti and Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore, to jointly call on the Department for Transport to increase services for commuters in Yate and Severn Beach, among others, as part of the Greater Bristol Metro Rail campaign.

The inter-city link overhaul plans, put forward last month by four local authorities, including South Gloucestershire and Bristol City Councils, set out to provide a new hourly service from Severn Beach to Bath Spa and from Portishead to Severn Beach and Temple Meads from 2013.

And Yate is also earmarked for half-hourly connections by extending Weston-super-Mare to Bristol Parkway services with a new turn-back facility.

Mr Webb said: "I welcome the decision to go ahead with electrifying the mainline service between Bristol and London but we also need to upgrade local services.

"We need more capacity, especially at peak times, and a greater frequency of service.

"I will continue to press the Department for Transport to look hard at upgrading the whole rail system around the Bristol and South Gloucestershire area."

In their submission to government the MPs asked for enhanced services, additional track capacity and carriages to mirror the Metro services in other major cities.

This could involve either new facilities to turn trains back at Yate station or more services terminating at Gloucester and using the existing turnback system in place there. South Gloucestershire Councillor for Yate and member of the Friends of Yate Station Sue Walker told the Gazette: "We desperately need more carriages, more regular services and a turn-back system.

"We were promised three carriages but we still only have two and people are crammed like sardines at peak times.

"People want to use the train but it gets so crowded that they can't."

Cllr Robert Griffin, who represents Severn Beach and Pilning on the district council, added: "We have seen the number of passengers using the station increase significantly over recent years as more and more people make the switch to rail.

"Frequency is something that commuters often raise, alongside reliability and affordability, which we would also hope to see improve if the campaign is successful."

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