'Frustration' at lack of movement on reopening Saltford Station
Councillors in Saltford who are backing a campaign to reopen the village’s railway station have written to regional leaders to express their “frustration” at the lack of news on the long-awaited project.
Saltford Parish Council says reinstating the station, which closed in 1970, as part of the MetroWest scheme remains “a priority” for the council but it was concerned that £250,000 earmarked by Bath and North East Somerset Council in 2015/16 to take the project a step further while working with Network Rail “remains unspent”.
Further concern over the station’s future was sparked by the release of the West of England Combined Authority’s (WECA) latest draft of its Joint Spatial Plan for the region in which Saltford station was missing from a diagram drawn up to show the locations of potential new developments, roads, park and rides and train stations (Figure 7 Appendix A).
In the letter signed by chair Chris Warren, which has been sent to WECA leaders, B&NES Council leaders, bosses at Network Rail and local MPs, the parish council says: “The reopening of Saltford railway station is viable, achievable, and contrasts with other proposals floated for a station between Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa such as a Newton park-and-ride station in green-belt land.”
Speaking to Keynshamvoice Cllr Warren said with the local population growing as more homes are built in the area, campaigners felt a station at Saltford was needed now more than ever but the project seemed to have stalled. He added: “Saltford Parish Council is extremely disappointed at the complete lack of progress made in the last three and half years.”
The council’s letter also tackles what it calls “misrepresentation” of the station site and its capacity for parking, which could “undermine the case” for the station, saying the land could accommodate 144 cars – or more with a two-storey car park – while additional off-site parking was also available.
The parish council has asked for a response to its concerns and concludes: “Saltford Parish Council remains frustrated at the lack of information being provided to the parish council by B&NES Council and the West of England Combined Authority and the apparent misrepresentation by some about this vital project.”
A spokesperson for B&NES Council told Keynshamvoice: “While the council is supportive of the reopening of a station at Saltford, this is a complex matter and we are in discussion with Network Rail regarding the points raised by the parish council in their letter. A formal response will be provided to the parish council once we have concluded those discussions.”
MetroWest is a project that aims to improve rail services in the Greater Bristol area, including the reopening of the Portishead and Henbury lines, as well as the creation of new or reopening of existing stations at a number of sites in the area.