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Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Henbury Loop Line - it CAN happen!

Isambard gave us the Suspension Bridge - surely we can achieve this?!
Can you imagine Isambard Kingdom Brunel planning to build a railway line from Bristol to London now? Or the Clifton Suspension Bridge?  Local authorities would have to agree, there would be an awful lot of very expensive consultants employed, then everyone would suck their teeth, look concerned ,say they were terribly supportive of the idea but of course, it could never be done, would be far too expensive, may require planning permission etc etc etc blah,  and a million reasons 'why not'
Flapjacks- an essential part of any journey
Everyone ready to board the Henbury Loop Special!
That's what's going on with the far more modest proposal to open up a small stretch of existing freight-train track back up to passengers again, as it used to be. The track between Filton, Henbury and Avonmouth already exists. As part of the 'Bristol Metro' plans, most people with any common sense whatsoever think it would be a good idea to use this existing track for passengers to create a real circle line round the city.

All that is needed now is for the good people at the West of England Partnership to agree and put in a 'Henbury Loop' into their bid for Government funding. Yes, we'd need a bit of double-tracking, and perhaps think about some signaling issues. We might even have to think, wait for it, creatively, about ensuring that freight trains are not held up by passenger trains - but this is far from rocket science and other areas of the country seem less squeamish about building new track than we do about using existing track for passengers as we once used to do.

Stephen Williams MP has been a real supporter of this campaign
SO - to prove it's all very doable, I decided not only to talk about it, but to DO it. With the great help of First Great Western, we chartered a train along the Henbury Loop Line. We only had a limited number of tickets, so huge apologies to all those people I had to disappoint.  But the trip was enormous fun and a great success-  from Temple Meads all the way up to Severn Beach and back again in about an hour. Some people told me they'd driven about an hour from Brentry to even get to Temple Meads...

Sue Flint bought flapjacks which we passed round and I chatted with Cllr Mark Bradshaw, Stephen Williams MP, and other cross-party transport campaigners about how we can make this a reality.

If you haven't already, please sign the petition:  www.henburyloop.bristolpetitions.com and forward to all of your friends!
Isambard Gromit Brunel says YES to the Henbury Loop! Don't you, Gromit..

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