Bristol Henbury Loop train runs again after 50 years
- 27 July 2013
- From the section Bristol
A one-off train service has travelled through north Bristol's Henbury Loop, almost 50 years after the line was closed to the public.
Campaigners have called for services to be reopened between Weston and Yate and the Henbury Loop for some time.
First Great Western (FGW) ran the service because it would give a "practical demonstration" of a possible element of any future metro scheme.
The train and invited guests left Bristol Temple Meads at 12:17 BST.
Network Rail gave special permission to run the 90-minute service which used existing freight train tracks, also known as the Filton to Avonmouth line.
Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie helped secure the trip, and said reopening Henbury Station as part of a Bristol metro local railway system would be a "transport game-changer" for the city.
"I'm delighted that FGW has been able to put on this Henbury Loop special train to demonstrate just how possible it can be to introduce a Henbury Loop line to transform transport in our city," she added.
"The rail line is already there - all we need is for our region's decision makers to demonstrate vision, drive and ambition for our city region.
"Around 1,000 people have now signed the Henbury Loop petition, businesses are supportive - the rail minister encouraged the West of England to have another look at the case for a loop line - all we need now is for our local decision makers to do the sensible thing".
The line closed to passenger traffic in 1964.
A metro has been widely discussed as a way of easing some of the traffic congestion issues in and around Bristol.
According to FGW, it could reinstate disused track beyond Portbury to link Portishead with Bristol and the Severn Beach line, as well as reinstate track to the north of Bristol Temple Meads via Filton Abbey Wood towards St Andrews Junction, if it were to go ahead.
"In local transport terms this is a very elegant solution, we just need to make the case clear to make sure we secure suitable funding," said First Great Western's managing director Mark Hopwood.
"The Severn Beach line, for example, has seen a 90% increase in passengers over the past five years as we've worked with the Community Rail Partnership and Bristol City Council to improve services and capacity on the line."