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News  »  Views sought on new A46 / A36 link road and railway news.

   Views sought on new A46 / A36 link road and railway news.    17 May, 2014
HCPC have received an interesting email form our District Councillor Neil Butters. In it he brings us news of the plans to electrify the railway to London and seeks the views of the community on the possibility of a link road between the A36 and the A46. We have repeated his email here and if you would like to get in touch with Neil his email address is: CllrNeilButters@aol.com
Dear All
As you are probably aware, preliminary work will start shortly on electrifying the main line between London and Bristol and Cardiff (etc) - via both Bath and Bristol Parkway.  The main work will happen in 2015 and 16.  Around August next year, there will be a three-week period when there will be NO trains east of Bath at all: London trains will run the other way via Bristol Parkway (this itself will last for six weeksand there will be a major exercise in bus substitution for passengers to and from Freshford, Bradford-on-Avon, Westbury, etc.  Network Rail have gone to great lengths to minimise intrusion, but there will be no escaping the masts and so forth necessary to carry the overhead wire.  There will also have to be various track lowerings, parapet rises, etc. Amongst other things the work is being done to reduce the carbon footprint, and because it is becoming increasingly difficult - and expensive - to source new diesel trains.  (The High Speed Trains currently in use, for all their virtues, are now nearly 40 years old.)
The pluses when the work is finished will include: new rolling stock; faster schedules, because electric trains can accelerate more quickly (c 8 minutes less to London); more capacity; quietness.  Two new services per hour will run from Bristol Temple Meads to London via Bristol Parkway - so again more room for Bath passengers.
Park and Rail
Considerable work has been done over recent years to try to identify a suitable Park and Ride site on the east side of Bath.  Every one proposed has had its drawbacks.  The site proposed by the previous administration at Bathampton Meadows was extremely unpopular in the Batheaston area because many people would have looked down over it, and seen a sea of cars.  Another major problem however was its limited capacity, given that it was hemmed in by a flood plain.
A new scheme has been proposed which would see a new station built at Bathampton, in the 'V' of the Westbury line junction.  (The previous station at Bathampton - closed 1966 - was just west of the junction.)  This would be accessed straight off the A4, and could be high capacity - and screened to a far greater extent than the Meadows site.
There is a proposal for new 'Metro West' local trains to run from Portishead (line to be reopened in the next few years), Avonmouth, etc to Bath - then empty on to Bathampton to turn around.  It would make sense to make use of this empty stock to provide at least part of a shuttle service from the P&R into Bath.  (Journey time: 4.5 minutes, against 21 from a similar site by bus in peak periods.)  As yet, no rolling stock has been formally allocated to Metro West, but it is clear that such will be available for 'cascading' over the years to come.
This proposal has the backing of the B&NES Lib Dem Group (at least).  It would of course be expensive, and there will be other obstacles.  However, there are obvious advantages.
Note that the issue is not solely one of easing London Road traffic congestion but also London Road etc pollution - which I gather can be four times the recommended maximum.
Proposed A46/A36 Link Road
This is the most controversial one!  As you may have seen, Dorian Baker - the Lib Dem candidate in the current Bathavon North By-election (polling day next Thursday), the transport consultant who drew up the Park & Rail plan - has also advocated completing the Link Road between the A46 and the A36.  This would see the road through the proposed new car park climb up the hill for some 1,100 metres, mostly in tunnel, to meet the A36 at the top.
There have been three main reactions to this:
1    Great idea.  Long overdue.
2    Total opposition to any new road building, whatever the circumstances.
3    Opposition, unless it can be shown that there will be little or no increase of traffic on the A46 and A36.  (Dorian himself believes there won't be any significant increase, but others dispute this.)
Talks are under way with Wiltshire Council, since clearly they must be included.  The plan would be to improve further the A350 (via Chippenham), to continue to channel N-S traffic that way.  (Note that I attended a couple of meetings with Wiltshire a couple of years ago.  A main worry of theirs was bus utilisation on the east side of Bath.  By using Bathampton as a hub, there would clearly be a considerable improvement.)
As the Ward Member, I would be very interested to hear what you think - about the proposed Link Road especially.  I can see the advantages, but also recognise the concerns.  I WON'T BE BACKING THE PROPOSED LINK UNTIL SUCH TIME (IF EVER) THAT THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN THE WARD ARE CLEARLY IN FAVOUR.
Please do let me have your thoughts on any of this, in particular of course the Link Road.
For reference, the present composition of the Council is: Lib Dem - 28; Conservative - 25; Independent - 5; Labour - 4; Unaligned - 2; vacancy - 1.  Total: 65.
Bathavon South Ward covers the parishes of Freshford, Monkton Combe, South Stoke, Hinton Charterhouse, Wellow, and Shoscombe.
Kind regards
Neil Butters
Lib Dem, Bathavon South

Past Chairman
Bath & North East Somerset Council

01225 832256/840984
07762 245105
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