5 minute read – Work progressing well at Bristol East Junction as major track upgrade reaches half-way point

Passengers are set to benefit from brand-new track and better journeys when travelling to and from Bristol Temple Meads station. 

The Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, is visiting Bristol today (Thursday 12 August) to see the progress Network Rail is making on completing the £132m Department for Transport-funded project. 

Network Rail engineers have been working around the clock to complete the track upgrade which involves removing a bottleneck into Bristol Temple Meads and installing a clever new track layout just north of the station. This will allow more trains to enter and exit the station, increase capacity, reduce congestion and help make journeys more reliable. 

The eight-week project started on Saturday 10 July and is scheduled to finish on Friday 3 September. In addition to replacing the 1960s track and components, work is also ongoing to install state of the art signalling equipment. 

Engineers have already replaced over 2.1km of track, laid around 7,000 tonnes of ballast (stones that support the track), completed over 400 welds and realigned 200m of copers to suit the new track alignment design on platforms 1, 3 and 5 to ensure the safe and smooth running of the railway.  

Last weekend (7-8 August) work continued to remove the old signalling gantry and upload the data onto the new signalling gantry, which was installed over the Christmas period last year (2020). 

Attention now turns to the London side of the junction whereby engineers will repeat the similar process of digging out and replacing the old track and stone, focusing on the railway lines towards Bath Spa and London Paddington.  

As part of the upgrade of Bristol East Junction, an extra line is also being introduced which will support new suburban services in the future as part of the West of England Combined Authority’s (WECA) MetroWest scheme. Once complete, this scheme will provide over 4,000 additional seats on trains every day in the area. 

This track upgrade work is part of the wider Bristol Rail Regeneration programme that will see a number of improvements to the iconic Bristol Temple Meads station over the next three years, representing a major investment in sustainable transport in the region and creating a major transport hub that will serve millions of passengers each year and support business right across the region. 

Changes to train services

While this work is ongoing, there will continue to be a number of timetable changes to train services, including bus replacement services at times. Passengers are reminded to check before travelling and where possible plan ahead of their journeys. For more information and for the latest timetable changes, please visit GWR.com/Bristol or crosscountrytrains.co.uk/Bristol

©Network Rail

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “This £132 million investment will mean more regular and more reliable trains with more seats coming through the station as we increase access to opportunities and better connect communities across the region.  

“Alongside this we are doing an extensive refurbishment of Bristol Temple Meads, providing better passenger facilities and improved accessibility.  

“This is another great example of how we are building back better in Bristol and levelling up the South West.” 

Michelle Handforth, Network Rail’s Wales & Western managing director, said: “I’d like to thank for all passengers for their continued patience as we do this huge piece of work in Bristol.  

“This is a highly complex piece of engineering and once finished, will bring huge benefits in the future such as more trains, more seats and more reliable journeys. The improvements at Bristol Temple Meads will also help transform the station and improve journeys. 

“Work will now continue and in the meantime, I urge passengers to keep planning ahead and checking before they travel, particularly during this period.” 

Richard Rowland, GWR customer service and operations director, said: “This work will in time help us to deliver 4,000 more train seats a day into the city, on more services through Bristol and help to reduce the conflict between long-distance and local stopping services, helping to maintain the reliability of our trains.  

“We continue to operate trains through Bristol for the vast majority of the period, but there continues to be some alterations to timetables and journey frequency, so please do check what is best for you if you’re travelling.” 

Tom Joyner, CrossCountry’s managing director, said: “When finished these important improvements will make rail travel to and from Bristol a better experience with more trains able to arrive and depart on time. 

“Until then we’d like to thank our customers for their patience while the work takes place, and ask them to check their journeys carefully to see if there are any changes.” 

For more information about the Bristol Rail Regeneration programme please visit  networkrail.co.uk/bristolrailregen 

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