Bristol folk will be familiar with Dave Wood from the RMT, who writes for and to the paper about local transport issues. Here’s an extract from his latest email to me, which was a letter intended for publication. I’m not sure if it’s was published. He emailed it round to a group of local politicians and got a rather stroppy response from one of the senior Somerset councillors, who insists an ITA isn’t needed. He said we’re only bringing this up in Bristol because we’ve got elections this year. We haven’t! For the record, if it needs to be said again, I totally support calls for an ITA. I’ve been saying it for seven years, since I got elected.
“At a rail meeting in committe room 15 the Council House [last night], repeated calls were made for the four local authorities in the Bristol area to set up a Integrated Transport Authority ( ITA ) or at least take on the equivalent set of powers. That would allow them to regulate rail and bus fares and services, and although they do cost the taxpayer, the cities that have them tend to be more successful when it comes to lobbying the government for money. The general consensus is that none of the four local authorities had a officer who was sufficiently expert in the rail industry, Calls were made for one to be appointed to help push for better services. First Great Western Trains let themselves down by not attending this rail meeting.
Who ever takes over the next rail franchise for our area, they need to include in their franchise the reopening of the Portishead and Henbury Loop lines to a passenger service. All existing and any new planned station re openings must be served by a 30 minute train service to all stations in the Greater Bristol area. Bristol has a excellent rail infrastructure, that has been ignored and left to rot, this trend must be reversed and all taken out lines and closed stations need to be put back in and rebuilt. We urgently need a new rail body to secure rail electrification for our local railways, when the electrification gangs are here in 2016 putting up the overhead electric lines, we need them to carry on and electrify our local lines. By doing this we will save a third of the cost. Common sense should apply we must electrify our local lines in 2016 when electrification arrives in Bristol. If we miss this opportunity we wont get the chance again.
Concerns have been raised that particularly North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset councils may continue to resist a ITA. People are being urged to lobby their local councillors and MP’s particularly in South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset to support the formation of an ITA. People should also lobby their local Councillors and MP’s relating to the £200,000 pound saved on the successful Severn Beach line, this money should be reinvested in the line putting on a extra train early evening between Avonmouth and Parson Street station.”