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Montpelier railway station

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Montpelier railway station

First Great Western Pacer unit 143621 at Montpelier in 2010.
Place Montpelier
Local authority Bristol
Grid reference ST592745
Station code MTP
Managed by First Great Western
Number of platforms 1
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2002/03 62,005
2004/05 Increase 65,108
2005/06 Increase 73,573
2006/07 Increase 76,969
2007/08 Decrease 60,629
2008/09 Increase 86,406
2009/10 Increase 96,114
2010/11 Increase 0.112 million
2011/12 Increase 0.122 million
2012/13 Increase 0.126 million
Original company Clifton Extension Railway
Post-grouping Great Western Railway and London, Midland and Scottish Railway
1 October 1874 Opened
18 November 1965 Closed to goods traffic
17 July 1967 Staffing withdrawn
1970 Line singled
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Montpelier from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Montpelier railway station is on the Severn Beach Line and serves the district of Montpelier in Bristol, England. It is 2.85 miles (4.59 km) from Bristol Temple Meads. It was opened in 1874 by the Great Western and Midland Railways as part of the Clifton Extension Railway. It was originally built as double-track, but was singled in 1970. Services had decreased during the 20th century, and by 1995 there was talk of the line being closed completely, but services were improved following action by the campaign group Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways, and in the nine years 2002–12, the station saw an almost 100% increase in passenger numbers. As of 2014, it is managed by First Great Western, which is the sixth company to be responsible for the station, and the third franchise since privatisation in 1997. They provide all train services at the station, mainly a train every forty minutes in each direction between Bristol Temple Meads and Avonmouth.


Montpelier railway station is located in the Bristol ward of Ashley, serving the districts of Montpelier, Cotham, Ashley Down and St Andrews. The surrounding area is mostly residential, with shops on the nearby A38 Cheltenham Road.[1] The station can be accessed step-free from Station Road to the south, or by a footbridge and steps from Cromwell Road to the north.[2] The station is on the Severn Beach Line from Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach, 2 miles 68 chains (4.6 km) from Bristol Temple Meads, and 10 miles 55 chains (17.2 km) from Severn Beach.[3][4][5] It is the third station from Temple Meads, and first station of the branch part of the line (the first two stations, Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road, are on the main line Cross Country Route).[6] The station is on a roughly east-west alignment, curving to the north, with a single 144-yard (132 m)-long curved platform to the south of the track, serving trains in both directions. Directly to the east of the station is the 268-yard (245 m)-long Montpelier Tunnel, and to the west is The Arches bridge over the A38.[7] The station's northern platform was abandoned in 1970 and is overgrown.[8]

Facilities at the station are minimal – there are a few chairs and timetable information is provided. Help points, giving next train information, were installed in 2010. There is no ticket office, nor any self-service ticket machines.[2] The station building is used as a workshop and showroom for a company selling fireplaces,[9] and is bricked up on the platform side. It is however colourfully decorated with a mural, painted as a collaborative effort between the Severnside Community Rail Partnership and Fairfield High School. The Severnside CRP also tend the station's garden in conjunction with the nearby Colston's Girls' School.[10][11] There is no car park or taxi rank,[2] but there are bus stops on Cromwell Road, and more on the busy A38 Cheltenham Road roughly 400 yards (370 m) away.[12] Cycle storage is available on the platform.[2]

The line through Montpelier has a 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) speed limit for diesel multiple units, and 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) for other trains.[3] The line, which is not electrified, has loading gauge W6, and carries less than 3 million train tonnes per year.[13] In the 2011/12 financial year, approximately 120,000 passengers used Montpelier station, making it the 1554th busiest station in the country and the fourth busiest within the Bristol unitary authority area. This was an increase of almost 100% from the 2002-03 financial year, and reflected a general rise in usage of the Severn Beach Line.[14][15]


Services at Montpelier are all operated by First Great Western, mainly using diesel Class 150 Sprinter units, occasionally supplemented by Class 153 Super Sprinter and Class 158 Express Sprinter units.[16][17] Monday to Friday, three trains every two hours run from Bristol Temple Meads to Avonmouth, with one extended to St Andrew's Road and Severn Beach, giving a service at Montpelier of one train in each direction every 40 minutes. Most services start at Bristol, but one evening service to Avonmouth begins at Weston-super-Mare. On Saturdays there is a similar level of service but more trains continue to Severn Beach. Sunday sees a roughly hourly service to and from Bristol, with only two services extending to Severn Beach, except during the May–September timetable period when all services are extended. The first and last Sunday trains towards Bristol are extended to Taunton via Weston-super-Mare, and there are similar workings in the other direction.[18]

There an interval of about ten minutes between services to Avonmouth and those to Bristol, due to the line's main passing point, Clifton Down, being the next but one station. Most trains call at all stations but some services omit Lawrence Hill. St Andrew's Road is a request stop. The typical journey time to Bristol Temple Meads is roughly 13 minutes, and about 17 minutes to Avonmouth.[18] In 2012, the single fare to Clifton Down or Bristol was £1.50, and £3 return for the whole line.[17]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Redland   First Great Western
Severn Beach Line
  Stapleton Road


Joint railway era

The Bristol and South Wales Union Railway's main line to Wales.[8] The line was built at 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge, and was initially managed by the Clifton Extension Railway Joint Committee.[19]

The station was built by Messrs Baker & Son of Canon's Marsh, Bristol.[19] There were two platforms, with the southern platform used by trains towards Clifton Down and the northern one by trains the other direction. The platforms were 405 feet (123 m) long and spacious, but open to the elements with little in the way of cover. An iron footbridge linked the two platforms, as well as carrying a pedestrian right of way between Cromwell Road to the north and Station Road to the south. The original station buildings were built from pennant stone, a common material in the Bristol area, and partly obtained from the digging of a cutting near Clifton Down. The station master had lodgings above the waiting rooms on the southern platform, which had separate ticket windows for Midland and Great Western services. The buildings on the northern platform were principally waiting rooms. A goods yard was provided on the south side of Station Road, mainly used for coal traffic, and accessible from the west via a bridge over the road. A signal box with 16 levers was located at the west end of the southern platform, controlling the yard and crossover points on the main line. There was some debate about whether the station should be called "Montpelier" or "Montpellier", but the joint railway committee overseeing the line ruled in favour of the former in 1888. In 1895, a petition was submitted to the joint railway committee, asking for better cover for the platforms, improved waiting rooms and a new booking office on the northern platform. The committee agreed to extend the canopy on the northern platform, and to improve the waiting rooms, but refused to build a new booking office. The work was completed in 1896. Further building work took place during the First World War, when the southern platform was extended.[8]

Looking east along the platform. The disused northern platform can be seen on the left.

The initial service provided at Montpelier by the Midland Railway was between Clifton Down, Fishponds and Mangotsfield, where passengers could change for services to Bath, Birmingham and other Midland destinations. The Great Western provided services between Clifton Down and Bristol Temple Meads, the city's major station, where passengers could change for trains to London, Exeter and Wales, among others. The Great Western also provided occasional through services to Weston-super-Mare. There were a total of 23 trains in each direction between the two companies Monday-Saturday.[8] On Sundays, there was no Midland service, but seven Great Western trains.[20] The fare to Temple Meads was 6d first-class and 3d third-class.[19] The Clifton Down Tunnel, the final link to the Bristol Port Railway and Pier, was opened in 1877, initially allowing freight trains to reach Avonmouth Docks. It was not until 1885 that it was cleared for passenger use, which allowed services to Avonmouth via Sea Mills and Shirehampton. There was a trial Midland service between Bristol St Philip's and Avonmouth in September 1885, but this was ended after a month.[8] In 1886, the daily Great Western service was six trains each way between Avonmouth and Temple Meads, 24 trains from Clifton Down to Temple Meads and 26 the other direction. The Midland provided 12 services from Clifton Down to Fishponds, and 11 back.[20] In the first 20 years of the Montpelier's use, the station handled large numbers of parcels, and was popular for day trips to Weston-super-Mare.[8] Management of the line passed to the Great Western & Midland Railways Joint Committee in 1894.[19]

The station was initially well-staffed: in 1903 there were 19 staff, although this had fallen to 15 by 1935. Before the First World War, it was not unusual for extra porters to be sent to Montpelier to handle large quantities of goods - the station was used by many commercial travellers who had large hampers full of clothes and samples, and the loading on Monday morning had the potential to cause delays. In 1910, Montpelier saw 17 Great Western services from Avonmouth to Temple Meads and 15 the other way, a further 20 trains each day operating between Clifton and Temple Meads, and 13 Midland trains each way between Clifton and Fishponds or Mangotsfield. Midland services were suspended from 1 January 1917 to 15 May 1919 due to the First World War.[8] The Hotwells section of the Bristol Port Railway and Pier closed in 1922, so to compensate, an additional six trains were provided to Avonmouth, with four back.[20]

In 1923, grouping resulted in the Midland Railway being absorbed into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), and the line continued in a joint arrangement between the Great Western and the LMS.[19] From 1924, many trains to Avonmouth were extended to Severn Beach, a growing seaside resort, and some on to Pilning, then back to Temple Meads via Patchway.[17][20] The post of station master was withdrawn on 29 March 1926, with responsibility passing to staff at Clifton Down. Redland had suffered a similar loss in 1909. The main station building on the southern platform was bombed in the Bristol Blitz during the Second World War, and was replaced after the war by the current building. The war also saw the end of services to Fishponds and Mangotsfield, the last operating on 31 March 1941.[8] By 1947, just before the start of the British Rail era, there were 33 services each direction between Avonmouth and Temple Meads, and 18 on Sundays.[20] Some trains made circular trips to and from Temple Meads via Clifton Down and Henbury or Pilning.[8][17]

British Rail and privatisation

Montpelier came under the control of the Western Region of British Railways following the nationalisation of the railways in 1948.

When the railways were nationalised in 1948, services at Montpelier came under the aegis of the Western Region of British Railways.[19] Staff levels were reduced further, down to two booking clerks, four porters, a checker and a weighbridge operator by 1950.[8] Passenger numbers however dropped sharply in the early 1960s,[20] and the Beeching report suggested the closure of Montpelier, along with the withdrawal of all services along the line. In the end, services continued to Severn Beach but were discontinued via Henbury and Pilning. The goods yard at Montpelier closed on 18 November 1965, with the signal box following on 10 May 1967.[19][17][8] Staff were completely withdrawn on 17 July 1967 as part of a deal to reduce costs but keep the line open.[8][19] Most of the Severn Beach Line was reduced to single track in late 1970, and so the northern running line through Montpelier was lifted and the adjacent platform abandoned. The former goods yard is now a small industrial estate.[8] By 1974, service had reduced to 19 trains per day in each direction.[19]

British Rail was split into business-led sectors in the 1980s, at which time operations at Montpelier passed to Regional Railways. At this time, all trains ran to Severn Beach, but the service pattern was irregular.[17] This was changed in the mid-1990s, with a more frequent service to Avonmouth but very few on to Severn Beach and no Sunday services.[17][21]

When the railway was privatised in 1997, local services were franchised to Wales and West,[22] which was succeeded by Wessex Trains, an arm of National Express, in 2001.[23] Following action by Friends of Severn Beach Railway (FOSBR) and a string of protests, services had increased to 10 per day in each direction by 2005,[8] with Bristol City Council providing a subsidy to Wessex Trains.[24] The Wessex franchise was amalgamated with the Great Western franchise into the Greater Western franchise from 2006, and responsibility passed to First Great Western, a subsidiary company of First Group.[25][26][27] A minimum service requirement was written into the franchise agreement, ensuring an hourly service along the line, and this has since been increased to three trains every two hours.[21][28][29] Sunday services to Severn Beach were restored in 2010.[30]

The station building at Montpelier is disused, but is covered in a community-painted mural. The northern platform (right) is disused.
The mural on the station building was repainted in 2007.

In 2004, the Severnside Community Rail Partnership was formed, covering the Severn Beach Line and a network of routes radiating from Bristol.[17] By 2008, they had created a support group for the station, were helping with station upkeep, and had improved the provision of timetabling information through the use of simplified departure timetable posters.[10] In 2007, they repainted the mural on the old station building, but it was defaced by vandals in May. First Great Western offered a £500 reward for identifying the persons responsible, and stated they planned to install CCTV cameras.[31] Students from Fairfield High School repainted the mural with help from professional graffiti artist Richard Minchin.[32] Customer help points with next train information screens were installed during 2008/09, paid for by money from the Department for Transport's "Access for All" fund and local councils.[33] The help points were stolen in early 2010, but have since been replaced.[2][34][35]

Preceding station Historical railways Following station
Clifton Down   Midland Railway
Clifton Extension Railway
Line and station closed.
Redland Midland Railway
Clifton Extension Railway
(1897-1917, 1919-1922)
  London, Midland and Scottish Railway
Clifton Extension Railway
Clifton Down   Great Western Railway
Clifton Extension Railway
  Stapleton Road
Redland Great Western Railway
Clifton Extension Railway
  Western Region of British Railways
Severn Beach Line
  Regional Railways
Severn Beach Line
  Wales and West
Severn Beach Line
  Wessex Trains
Severn Beach Line


First Great Western declined an option to continue the Greater Western passenger franchise (of which services at Montpelier are a part) beyond 2013, citing a desire for a longer-term contract due to the impending upgrade to the Great Western Main Line.[27] The franchise was put out to tender,[36][37][38] but the process was halted and later scrapped due to the fallout from the collapse of the InterCity West Coast franchise competition.[39] A two-year franchise extension until September 2015 was agreed in October 2013,[40][41] and subsequently extended until March 2019.[42][43][44]

With the coming upgrade to the Great Western Main Line, the main line from London to Bristol is due to be electrified by 2016.[45] However, the electrification will not extend beyond the main lines, so Montpelier will continue to be served by diesel trains.[46][47] Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West, questioned whether electrification could continue to Montpelier. Then-Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond replied that it would have to be looked at in the future.[48] The group Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways supports the electrification of the entire Severn Beach Line.[49]

Improved services at Montpelier are called for as part of the Greater Bristol Metro scheme, a rail transport plan which aims to enhance transport capacity in the Bristol area.[50][51] There is an aspiration for half-hourly services, with trains towards Bristol terminating alternately at Portishead and Bath Spa, however due to the large sections of the Severn Beach Line which are single-track and to the congested main line from Temple Meads, such frequency is not currently feasible.[52][53] The scheme was given the go-ahead in July 2012 as part of the City Deal, whereby local councils would be given greater control over money by the government.[54] There are also calls for the reopening of the Henbury Loop Line, which could allow a direct service from Montpelier to Bristol Parkway via Avonmouth.[55]

See also


  1. ^ A-Z Bristol and Bath Deluxe (2nd ed.).  
  2. ^ a b c d e "Montpelier (MTP)".  
  3. ^ a b "Network Capability – Baseline Declaration: (1) Track and Route mileage: (2) Line-speeds: Western Route".  
  4. ^ Deaves, Phil. "Engineers' Line References: CNX Clifton Extension Line". Retrieved 23 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Deaves, Phil. "Engineers' Line References: AMB Avonmouth Branch". Retrieved 23 May 2012. 
  6. ^ Baker, S.K. (2010). Rail Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland (12 ed.). Ian Allan.  
  7. ^ OS Landranger Map 172 – Bristol & Bath. Southampton:  
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Oakley, Mike (2006). Bristol Railway Stations 1840–2005. Redcliffe Press.  
  9. ^ "Period Fireplaces". Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "Progress Report Winter 2008".  
  11. ^ "Progress Report January 2012".  
  12. ^ "Montpelier Station: Onward Travel Information".  
  13. ^ "Route 13: Great Western Main Line".  
  14. ^ "Station Usage Estimates 2002/03".  
  15. ^ "Station Usage Estimates 2011/12".  
  16. ^ "First Great Western will add to service on successful Severn Bridge rail line". This is Bristol ( 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h Salveson, Paul (June 2012). Abell, Paul, ed. "Severn Beach: Not your typical branch line!".  
  18. ^ a b "Central 6: Guide to train times 8 December 2013 to 17 May 2014 - Bristol to Severn Beach".  
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i Maggs, Colin (1975). The Bristol Port Railway and Pier. The Oakwood Press. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f Maggs, Colin G (2008) [First published 1981]. Rail Centres: Bristol (#21) (3rd ed.).  
  21. ^ a b "Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways making rail difference". This is Bristol ( 
  22. ^ Frith, Malcolm (November 1999). "Track record: West and South-West".  
  23. ^ "Wales and West".  
  24. ^ "Lobby to save Severn Beach line".  
  25. ^ "Wessex Trains". The Iron Road: Railway Photography by Scott Borthwick. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  26. ^ "FirstGroup wins rail franchises".  
  27. ^ a b "First Great Western bids for longer rail franchise deal".  
  28. ^ "Campaigners' picnic marks rail launch". This is Bristol ( 
  29. ^ "Campaigners call for quick railway action". This is Bristol ( 
  30. ^ "Sunday service puts smiles on faces of rail enthusiasts". This is Bristol ( 
  31. ^ "July 2007". Cardiff & Avonside Railway Society. July 2007. Retrieved 13 July 2012. At Montpelier station, vandals have covered a mural only completed during the middle of the month with tags, First/GW are now offering a £500 reward to identify the persons responsible. The new mural was painted on the ground floor of the station building by professional artists, with schools and local businesses assisting, a new station garden has also been created. First/GW plan to install CCTV cameras at this station to monitor activity as it has become a graffiti 'hotspot'. 
  32. ^ "September 2007". Cardiff & Avonside Railway Society. September 2007. Retrieved 13 July 2012. Along the line at Montpelier station, students from Fairfield School have tidied up the murals on the platform buildings, which had been de-faced by vandals during May. Six students, who won a competition were able to paint their own designs on the walls, with graffiti artist Richard Minchin assisting, in the presence of head of art at Fairfield School, David Otlet. 
  33. ^ "Progress Report: January 2009".  
  34. ^ "Thieves steal customer help points at Bristol stations".  
  35. ^ "May 2010". Cardiff & Avonside Railway Society. May 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 23/02 ... Between 25 – 28/02, two First/GW passenger information screens were stolen from Redland and Montpelier stations. The equipment would have no value if an attempt was made to resale, but a technical knowledge would have had to be known to safely remove the panels. 
  36. ^ Haigh, Philip (18 April 2012). "First leads a field of seven bidding for rail franchises".  
  37. ^ "Great Western franchise to be extended". Railnews. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  38. ^ "New Great Western franchise to deliver new express trains" (Press release).  
  39. ^ "Great Western London to south Wales rail contest scrapped".  
  40. ^ "First celebrates last-minute Great Western deal". Railnews. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  41. ^ "First Great Western retains Wales and west rail franchise".  
  42. ^ "First Great Western offered new franchise deal".  
  43. ^ "FirstGroup wins Great Western contract extension".  
  44. ^ "Updated franchise schedule signals GW extension". Railnews. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  45. ^ "Modernising the Great Western".  
  46. ^ "Weston-super-Mare to London rail re-franchise concerns".  
  47. ^ "Bristol to London line to be electrified". This is Bristol ( 
  48. ^ "'"Benefits of Bristol to London high-speed rail link 'must go beyond just mainline. This is Bristol ( 
  49. ^ "FoSBR Newsletter" (78).  
  50. ^ White, James (13 March 2009). "Item 04: Greater Bristol Metro". West of England Partnership. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  51. ^ "Campaign for trains from Bristol Temple Meads every half hour". This is Bristol ( 
  52. ^ "FoSBR Newsletter" (85).  
  53. ^ "Transport Minister hears calls for better Bristol train service". This is Bristol ( 
  54. ^ Ribbeck, Michael (6 July 2012). "£100 million Bristol Metro train network by 2016".  
  55. ^ "Our Case".  
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