Daytime train cuts are 'crazy', say rail campaigners
RAIL campaigners say cuts to daytime services at Bristol stations are "crazy" as the city tries to tackle gridlock on the roads.
Pressure group Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways says timetable changes introduced at the end of last year mean fewer trains now go from Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road stations direct to Bristol Parkway.
They say the move affects commuters travelling to and from the major employers in the north of the city, as well as students.
Train operator GWR says the problem has been fitting local services around extra trains introduced in December, including its new "SuperFast" services from Temple Meads via Parkway to London.
FoSBR is calling for the direct local services to be restored when the next timetable change is made in the spring.
Fewer local trains now end their journey at Bristol Parkway, with a number of them stopping short at Filton Abbey Wood instead.
During the weekday off-peak period, there are now no direct trains from Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road to Bristol Parkway between the 7.48am and 4.11pm services from Lawrence Hill: previously there were 10 direct trains during the same period.
The group has visited both Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road to talk to people affected by the changes.
GWR says it has changed ticketing rules to allow people to make the journey via Temple Meads but this means that a journey which takes 13 minutes from Lawrence Hill or 10 minutes from Stapleton Road on a direct train could now take up to 54 minutes.
FoSBR Chair Rob Dixon, above, said: "To withdraw cross-city services from a city that’s infamous for traffic gridlock seems crazy. The GWR leaflet suggests alternative bus services, but this timetable change may drive people back to their cars."
A GWR spokesperson said extra trains were now using the route between Temple Meads and Parkway, where track capacity has been expanded.
The spokesperson said: "It was not possible for train planners from Network Rail to find enough paths for our services between Weston-super-Mare and Bristol Parkway from Filton Abbey Wood.
"Stapleton Road and Lawrence Hill customers are most significantly impacted as some may have to go to Bristol Temple Meads to get a train to Bristol Parkway.
"We’ve managed to run some peak time services and we’ve produced a leaflet showing alternative bus journeys that has been distributed at the relevant stations.
"The most recent passenger figures show low numbers of customers being affected but this is still something that we want to put right and we’re working on it with Network Rail.
"The timetable is due to be revised by Network Rail on May 17, which will include some additional services and hopefully more paths between Filton Abbey Wood and Bristol Parkway."