This response comes from Bristol Green Party
Support for other submissions
We give our full support to three other submissions, namely
1. South West Green Party submission
2. Transport for Greater Bristol/Friends of Suburban Bristol railway submission
3. Bristol Sport submission re Ashton Gate station
Ownership of railways
In particular we support the South West Green Party's contention that the current private franchise model does not provide the most cost-effective and efficient way to deliver rail services.
We believe that the attempt to artificially create market competition in an environment such as the railways where a natural monopoly exists have created the worse case scenario - monopolistic practices by private profit-driven companies often with little regulatory oversight.
The division of rail and track companies into artificially competitive companies rather than a cooperative organisation, coupled with the fragmentation of the rail industry into multiple companies by privatisation, has been disastrous for safety and reliability and the provision of an integrated service.
The Green Party therefore believes that the rail system, including track and operators, needs to be publicly owned, and would seek to bring the service back into public ownership but would also make the rail service more democratically accountable at local and regional levels.
The principles on which a local train service should be run are
1. Maximise the use of the existing local rail network
2. Making the service sufficiently frequent - at least in peak times - that timetables are not required
3. Make stations accessible, staffed and into transport hubs ie encourage other forms of sustainable transport
Portishead line and Ashton Gate station
We also strongly support the calls in all three submissions for the reopening of passenger services on the Portishead line.
We note that the reopening of the Portishead line is included in the MetroWest Phase 1 programme however we are concerned that a station at Ashton Gate is not included in the options studied in the MetroWest Interim Report published in November 2013.
We believe this to be a significant error of omission.
As identified in the submission by Bristol Sport Ltd, a major multi-million pound investment programme is already in progress to transform the Ashton Gate stadium into a multi-event, seven day a week, conference, exhibition, concert and sports complex. By 2018-19, this facility is expected to attract over a million visitors, divided almost equally between sports and non-sports visitors. The vast majority of these visitors will be from beyond south Bristol, and in the case of conference and exhibition delegates almost certainly from beyond the Bristol area itself.
We are concerned that the opportunity to deliver a station in the Ashton area, serving not just the stadium development but also the communities of Ashton Gate, Ashton Vale, Bedminster and Southville, as well as the expanding commercial premises along the Winterstoke Road area, should not be overlooked.
We would go so far as to recommend that not only should a station at Ashton Gate be considered an absolute necessity on the Portishead line but that the opening of the line for passenger services should commence from the Parson Street junction end of the line allowing a station at Ashton Gate to be brought into operation as soon as possible after the proposed 2016 opening of the redeveloped Ashton Gate stadium.
To do otherwise, would, in our view, create massive congestion problems for the residents, leading to drastic reductions in air quality especially along the Winterstoke Road and Parson Street gyratory area which already has low air quality, and would also have a negative impact on businesses in the area, and will undermine the positive economic impact of the stadium and its conference and exhibition facilities, thus deterring future business investment in south Bristol.
Ashley Hill and Lockleaze stations and the Henbury loop
Cllr Gus Hoyt, assistant mayor for Neighbourhoods and Green Party councillor for Ashley also believes it is vital to re-open a variety of stations, including those at Lockleaze and Ashley Hill and to introduce the Henbury Loop line believing among other things that accessible and affordable public transport is a Public Health priority.
Bristol Green Party councillor for Bishopston Daniella Radice believes that a reopened station at Ashley Hill would greatly increase public transport options for residents of Ashley Down, St Andrews and St Werburghs. It wouild also help give students at the college and visitors to the Cricket ground improved public transport options.