Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Annex 2

CASE STUDY: THE BRISTOL/SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE LRT SCHEME

  1.  The current proposal for the Bristol/South Gloucestershire scheme is a light rail system based on track-sharing to link the city centre of Bristol with Temple Meads station and thence, via the railway corridor, to Filton Abbeywood, and on through the "northern fringe", via a major transport interchange at Bristol Parkway, terminating at a large Park & Ride site at Almondsbury on the M5.

  2.  The railway corridor offers the only practical route that LRT could use to link the city and its northern suburbs. Once 4-tracked, the corridor currently carries two tracks between Lawrence Hill Station and Filton Junction, but with the disused portion of the alignment still unencroached. Although a defined "pinchpoint" in current Railtrack terms, the restoration of a 4-tracked railway (with two "main lines" and two "slow lines" to convey local diesel services and the new high-frequency LRT service) would, through track-sharing, optimise the potential of the strip of land available and cater for the stated growth aspirations of heavy-rail operators. The adjoining alignments (street-running within the city centre, and north of Bristol Parkway on a safeguarded roadside strip of land) have been defined.

  3.  Planning for enhancement of Filton Junction (at the new Abbeywood station) for planned heavy-rail growth has taken into account the LRT requirement, through the partnership that has existed between Railtrack and the Citylink Consortium since its formation in 1997. At Bristol Temple Meads, the major Temple Quay development also embraces the future LRT alignment requirement, parallel to the historic (Grade 1 listed) Brunel & Digby-Wyatt train shed structures.

  4.  The overall financial case for the LRT submitted by Citylink to DETR in August 1998 suggests that the earnings of the LRT operation could finance around two-thirds of the gross scheme costs, over a 30-year project life. It has been assumed that Railtrack will fund that proportion of the works falling within the rail corridor, amounting to aproximately half of this sum. This would be remunerated by the LRT operating company, in becoming a new customer of Railtrack, paying for access through a long-term Access Agreement.

  5.  In the absence of a Section 56 or other capital grant to fund the balance of around one-third of the gross scheme cost, Citylink, Railtrack and the Local Authorities favour an approach whereby congestion charging revenues could be hypothecated to this project. Local consultation carried out by Bristol City Council has suggested that this would be politically acceptable once the new services were running (but not before).

  6.  Railtrack are therefore keen to see that the means can be identified whereby the Citylink scheme for Bristol and South Gloucestershire LRT can be progressed, which would encourage development of the local rail network and satisfy clearly stated Local Authority transportation objectives. If progressed, the system would represent the first significant application of the "Karlsruhe method" in Britain whereby street-running LRT vehicles shared heavy-rail routes to practical and economic advantage.

Mike Tedstone,

Project Development Manager

Railtrack plc


 
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