On the train...
...Nailsea & Backwell railway station with its links to coast and city is a big plus for our community. It has a large car park but no disabled access on the Weston-super-Mare side although a campaign for 'something' to be done is more than a decade old
ONLINE NEWS: Nailsea and Backwell railway station, on the Bristol to Exeter line. It is eight miles west of Bristol Temple Meads railway station, and 126 miles from London Paddington. The station, opened in 1841 by the Bristol and Exeter Railway, has two platforms but little in the way of facilities. It is managed by Great Western Railway, the seventh company to be responsible for the station, and the third franchise since privatisation in 1997. The main station buildings were demolished in the 1970s, but their foundations can still be seen behind the shelters on the eastbound platform. In the 1980s the car park was expanded, and new metal and glass shelters were provided. The ticket office will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, October 18-19. Tickets can be bought from the ticket machine or digitally. Andy Ford shared these photos on Facebook, thanks
New rail station for Nailsea
Back in February 2022 we heard there are plans afoot to shunt Nailsea & Backwell railway station further along the line.
But is the actual building of a new station a long way off?
Nailsea People heard rumours that because of poor access the station should move eastwards.
And during a North Somerset Council Facebook Live session this week we asked the question - see video recording below.
On the panel were Ash Cartman, Robert Payne, Steve Bridger, chair Mike Bell and Bridget Petty, all part of the executive.
Green Party ward councillor for Backwell was nominated to answer.
Bridget said: "It has been part of conversation over past months/years."
Issues include the short length of the platform, access especially for people with disabilities, low bridge and how the people living in all the new houses being built will get to school/work/play both locally and the city centre or further afield.
Bridget agreed there had been massive underinvestment on our station and the road/rail issues need to be sorted.
Other councillors fear the station will be moved at far along the line as Flax Bourton.
Alison Morgan has been campaigning for 13 years for disabled access at Nailsea & Backwell.
Sadly, she said: "I can't see anything happening in my lifetime.
"Looking at the wording of the Local Plan on page 36-38 it is as airy fairy as ever, with only 'consideration' of possible expansion or relocation.
“It uses the phrase access improvements, no mention of disabled access improvements.
“All I can see ever happening is a bigger car park and cycle rack.
“I expect the fact that they can say they are considering relocation gives them the desired excuse to do nothing about the disabled access.”
Read more here: https://n-somerset.moderngov.co.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=1013#mgDocuments
Alison added: “I know the stability of the embankment is a problem.
“However, if it is so unstable that it couldn't take a steel structure being constructed adjacent to it, eventually they will need to do some strengthening work to it even if the station remains in situ.
“Rather than expensive grand designs for a new station, I would think it more cost effective to repair the current infrastructure.
“This way they can incorporate a ramp as originally planned and keep the station at a site convenient to both Nailsea and Backwell residents...but what do I know!”
Alison consulted North Somerset Lib Dem ward councillor James Tonkin with whom she travelled to the House of Commons back in 2019 to meet railway bosses and North Somerset MP Liam Fox as part of her campaign.
You can read full story here:
James told her 'the station will not be moved as far out as either Flax Bourton or Chelvey. It should only be a few hundred metres from existing site, so it will still serve Nailsea and Backwell'.
Two schools and two artists have been chosen from the shortlisted to create platform art on the theme Landscape at Nailsea & Backwell railway station.
See original story below from launch of project.
Commissioned by GWR the ones taking part will be:
Backwell School Year 7
Alison had offered to get a poster submitted showing the lack of disabled access and arrange for a performance art protest.
A GWR spokesman said: “There was a lot of empathy for Alison's thoughts and frustrations with the station access.
“This is something the wider team at GWR are aware of, however there was a general consensus that this art scheme is not the appropriate place to involve politics or campaigning.”
And in another competition the travelling public is invited to have its say on a new HQ for Great British Railways.
It says: “Towns and cities across the country with strong links to the railways are encouraged to enter nationwide competition
“The new HQ will see home of the railways set up outside of London, spreading opportunities and levelling up communities including hundreds of jobs.”
The plan is for Great British Rail to integrate the railways and deliver simpler, cheaper, passenger-focused travel and is part of the Government’s commitment to level-up the UK.
We thought of offering Nailsea and Backwell as the new base but perhaps Bristol or Swindon have a better claim?
FACT FILE: Nailsea and Backwell railway station, on the Bristol to Exeter line, is in the village of Backwell, close to the town of Nailsea in North Somerset, England. It is eight miles (13 km) west of Bristol Temple Meads railway station, and 126 miles (203 km) from London Paddington. The station, opened in 1841 by the Bristol and Exeter Railway, has two platforms but little in the way of facilities. It is managed by Great Western Railway, the seventh company to be responsible for the station, and the third franchise since privatisation in 1997. The company provides all train services at the station, mainly hourly services between Bristol Parkway and Weston-super-Mare, and between Cardiff Central and Taunton, source Wikipedia
NO ROOM ON TOP: A bus with the words 'Stay Alert' on the front became wedged under the railway bridge at Nailsea and Backwell station in July 2020. It wasn't the first time this has a happened although usually it is a high-sided vehicle. The road is not normally used by double decker buses
FACEBOOK LIVE: Nearly halfway through this recording the question about Nailsea & Backwell railway station is posed by Nailsea People. Cllr Bridget Petty answers...
From Sunday to Friday, September 17-22, there will be no train service between Bristol Temple Meads and Weston-super-Mare.
This is to allow for Network Rail improvement works, including track renewals and maintenance at various sites along the line over the six days.
During this time, buses will replace trains. GWR services between London Paddington and Weston-super-Mare will instead terminate at Bristol Temple Meads, as well as our services from Cardiff Central and Severn Beach/Avonmouth.
Trains will still run between Weston-super-Mare and Exeter St Davids, as well as between London Paddington and Devon/Cornwall via Taunton.
Cross Country services will use a different route between Bristol Temple Meads and Taunton – extending journey times by around 45 minutes.
A Network Rail spokesman said: "Journey planners have been updated and we will also be making customers aware through station posters, station and on board announcements, and traditional and social media."
More information is available at our dedicated webpage www.gwr.com/bristol.
The train company also gave advance notice that no trains will run to London Paddington on between Friday and Monday, December 24-27, including the Heathrow Express. This is to allow for HS2 construction works at Old Oak Common. Some trains will instead terminate at Ealing Broadway for connections onto the London Underground.
Nailsea commuters warned of Network Rail works
One of the new pieces of art at Nailsea & Backwell railway station has been hung on platform railings the wrong way up!
It has been like this for several weeks since the grand unveiling at the beginning of May.
Nailsea town councillor Anita Smith who is part of North Somerset Artists Collective was nominated to work with Severnside Community Rail Partnership on the project to liven up the platform when the new shelters were installed.
Work by established North Somerset artists Greg Derrick and Joe Bougourd were chosen/commissioned together with images by students from Backwell School and Nailsea School to be on display.
The theme was Landscape and the artists used photography, illustration, drawing and painting to create unique A1 boards.
But it wasn’t until the unveiling the error was discovered.
Anita said: “I did point it out at the time – it is a mystery how it happened although the board is bent and may have been forced.
“At the opening I thought that picture doesn’t make sense to me and then I realised it was upside down.
“No-one can understand how it got turned around as originally it was right.”
Now the workmen who hung the picture upside down aren’t the first to make this type of mistake.
In the 1960s The Museum of Modern Art in New York hung a Matisse upside down and no one noticed for more than a month.
However, the painting by Greg Derrick isn’t an abstract work by Henri Matisse called Le Bateau (1953) although at the odd angle it is attached to the railings it doesn’t quite look like the ‘viewpoint from platform two looking up Station Road’.
The playful picture of a steam train by Joseph Bougourd is the right way up as are the colourful images by Backwell School Year 7 which took inspiration from Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and the submission by Nailsea School Year 7-9 students which is a collage of scenic photographs from local places.
Anita added: “I love all the pictures and was so pleased our schools took part as many of the students use the train daily although I wish the pictures could have been bigger for more impact but the rules didn't allow.
“I will contact the community rail coordinator Faye Keane to let them know that Greg’s picture is still the wrong way up.”
Nailsea People popped down on Tuesday night, June 21, to see another unofficial art installation - the appearance of a cheery garden gnome sitting halfway up the brickwork on the rail bridge.
And despite strike action about pay and redundancies the trains seemed to still be running on this part of the GWR network.
UPDATE: Faye said: "It does seem a shame the headline focuses on the one artwork being upside down - I hope this doesn’t take away from all the positives the project has had and the hard work by the artists. Also there is a claim that the work was originally hung upside down - that is not the case. It was the correct way up but either someone has intentionally turned it round (with great effort), or the adhesives on the attachments became loose and a well intentioned passerby has tried to reattach but sadly upside down." Thanks for clarifying.
This way is up
UP LINE: Nailsea & Backwell railway station new artwork, shelters and garden gnome in residence
The RMT union (on board and station staff) have announced two further strike dates for Saturdays August 26 and September 2, at train operators across England, including GWR.
GWR are working to get journey planners updated as well as their dedicated webpage at https://www.gwr.com/strike as soon as possible.
They will also be making customers aware through station and on board announcements, station posters, and traditional and social media.
There are further RMT strike dates affecting Cross Country services only on Saturdays August 19 but the one on September 9 is cancelled..
For further information on this please visit https://www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk/travel-updates-information/changes-to-train-times/industrial-action
FRIDAY 1st SEPTEMBER
Due to industrial action by the ASLEF Union no trains will be stopping at Nailsea and Backwell railway station
SATURDAY 2nd SEPTEMBER
Due to industrial action by the RMT Union a very limited service will operate from Nailsea and Backwell railway station first trains in each direction will be aproximately 8.06am. Last trains will be around 5pm. Additionally ASLEF members are working to rule which May lead to short notice cancellations
TICKET OFFICE CLOSURE
The ticket office will be unmanned until Monday, September 11, due to a staff holiday!
The Aslef union (The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) has announced strike action that will affect rail services on Saturday, September 30, and Wednesday, October 4.
In addition, there could be further disruption on Friday, September 29, and from Monday to Friday, October 2-6, due to industrial action short of a strike by the Aslef union.
This action short of strike is likely to cause some short-notice alterations or cancellations.
On the strike days a reduced, revised timetable will operate across several train operators, including GWR.
Many parts of the GWR network will have no service at all.
Services will start later from 7.30am and all journeys must be completed by 6.30pm.
During action short of a strike and the days after strikes, services could also be affected by a limited number of short-notice cancellations and alterations.
Trains that are operating will be busier than usual.
Other train operators are also affected by this action, so onward travel could also be affected.
Repay compensation if they are delayed by 15 minutes or more.
To help customers, tickets for strike days will be valid for travel on
More train strike dates
alternative days on GWR services.
Further details will be provided soon.
Season-ticket holders can apply for compensation through the Delay Repay scheme.
If you hold a return ticket, you can claim a refund of your unused full fare, even if only one leg of your journey is affected.