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Filton railway station

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Filton railway station

Filton Abbey Wood
View south from the footbridge.
Place Filton
Local authority South Gloucestershire

51°30′18″N 2°33′45″W / 51.5049°N 2.5624°W / 51.5049; -2.5624Coordinates: 51°30′18″N 2°33′45″W / 51.5049°N 2.5624°W / 51.5049; -2.5624

Grid reference ST609784
Station code FIT
Managed by First Great Western
Number of platforms 3
station information
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2002/03   0.395 million
2004/05 Decrease 0.378 million
2005/06 Increase 0.401 million
2006/07 Increase 0.414 million
2007/08 Increase 0.458 million
2008/09 Increase 0.537 million
2009/10 Increase 0.598 million
2010/11 Increase 0.679 million
2011/12 Increase 0.771 million
Original company Bristol and South Wales Union Railway
Pre-grouping Great Western Railway
Post-grouping Great Western Railway
1863 Opened as "Filton"
1903[note 1] Resited
1910 Renamed "Filton Junction"
1968 Renamed "Filton"
1996 Resited and renamed "Filton Abbey Wood"
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Filton Abbey Wood from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Filton Abbey Wood railway station serves the town of Filton in South Gloucestershire, around 4.5 miles north of the city of Bristol. It was opened in 1996, and is the third station in the same area, the first being opened by the Bristol and South Wales Union Railway in 1863. Its three letter station code is FIT. There are three platforms but minimal facilities. The station is managed by First Great Western, the seventh company to be responsible for the station, and the third franchise since privatisation in 1997. They provide most train services at the station, with two trains per day operated by CrossCountry. The general service level is eight trains per hour - two to South Wales, two to Bristol Parkway, two toward Weston-super-Mare and two toward Westbury.

The line is not electrified, but will be as part of the planned modernisation of the Great Western Main Line. A new platform will also be built, allowing increased services between Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads.


Filton Abbey Wood railway station is located in the Filton area of South Gloucestershire, within the Bristol conurbation. The area to the west of the station is primarily residential, while to the east is a large commercial area, including MoD Abbey Wood which is adjacent to the station.[1] The main access to the station is via a long footpath (a slope of approximately 1 in 8) and bridge from Emma-Chris Way to the north, which has a small car park.[2][3] There is also foot access from MoD Abbey Wood to the east.[2] The station is on the Cross Country Route between Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway, and just off the South Wales Main Line south of Patchway and the eastern end of the Henbury Loop Line.[4] It is 4 miles 30 chains (7.0 km) from Bristol Temple Meads and 113 miles 21 chains (182.3 km) from London Paddington (via Bristol Parkway).[5][6] The station is just north of Filton South Junction, where the northbound line to South Wales and the westbound line to Avonmouth split from the line to Bristol Parkway, and just south of Filton Junction No. 1, where the southbound lines from South Wales and Parkway converge.[4][6] The next station south is Stapleton Road, the next station north is Patchway, and the next station east is Bristol Parkway.[4]

The station is on an alignment of 032 degrees, curving towards the west.[1] There are three active platforms: platform 1 is the easternmost, separated from platforms 2 and 3, which share an island, by two running lines. Platform 1 is for southbound trains and has a speed limit of 70 miles per hour (110 km/h). Platform 2 is for northbound trains towards Bristol Parkway, but can be used by trains towards South Wales. Platform 3 is for northbound trains towards South Wales. Both platforms 2 and 3 have a speed limit of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h), and all three platforms are 108 metres (118 yd) long.[6]

Facilities at the station are minimal - there are metal and glass shelters on each platform, and some seating. A small ticket office operates on platform 1 on weekday afternoons, but there are no other facilities for buying tickets and the station is generally unstaffed. There are customer help points, giving next train information for both platforms, as well as dot-matrix displays showing the next trains on each platform. A small pay and display car park with 30 spaces is to the north of the station, as are racks for eight bicycles. CCTV cameras are in operation at the station.[3] A number of buses stop by the station car park.[7]

Over the decade 2002-2012, passenger numbers at Filton Abbey Wood almost doubled, from 0.395 million to 0.771 million.[8][9][note 2] In the 2006/07 financial year, over 50,000 passengers used Filton Abbey Wood to travel to or from Bristol Temple Meads.[10] The line through Filton Abbey Wood has a loading gauge of W8, and the line handles over 15 million train tonnes per year.[11] It is not electrified, though it is planned that it will be electrified as part of the 21st-century modernisation of the Great Western Main Line.[12]


Filton Abbey Wood is managed by First Great Western, who operate most services from the station.[3] The basic service Monday to Friday is four trains per hour in each direction, split between four services. These are the hourly services each way between Bristol Parkway and Weston-super-Mare, Taunton and Cardiff Central, Portsmouth Harbour and Cardiff Central and finally Gloucester and Westbury. The Taunton service has occasional extensions to Exeter St David's and beyond, while the Gloucester to Westbury has alternate hour extensions to Great Malvern (via Worcester) in the north, to Weymouth in the south, and one daily extension to Brighton. Combined, there are two trains per hour to Bristol Parkway, two trains per hour to Cardiff Central and four trains per hour to Bristol Temple Meads.[13][14][15][16] A single direct service from London Paddington calls at Filton Abbey Wood in the morning, continuing to Swansea, but there are no direct services to London.[17] All services are operated by First Great Western, with the exception of one morning and one evening service operated by CrossCountry from Cardiff Central to Manchester Piccadilly via Bristol Temple Meads and Birmingham New Street. The morning service operates to Manchester Piccadilly whilst the evening service returns to Cardiff Central.[18] Other CrossCountry services pass non-stop throughout the day, operating two trains per hour each direction between the South West, Bristol, Manchester and Scotland.[18][19]

The local services described above are formed using Class 150, 153 and 158 diesel multiple-unit trains. Until 2012, Class 143 Pacer units were a regular sight, but these have been moved south to work in Devon and Cornwall following a cascade of Class 150/1 units from London Midland and London Overground.[20][21] The London-Swansea service is operated by an HST set,[17] and CrossCountry services are operated using Class 220 and 221 Voyager diesel-electric multiple units.[18][19]

The standard journey time to Bristol Temple Meads is 8 minutes, to Bristol Parkway is 4 minutes, and to Cardiff Central is 50 minutes.[13][15]

Preceding station National Rail Following station
Bristol Parkway   First Great Western
Bristol Parkway - Weston-super-Mare
  Stapleton Road
(Limited service southbound)
Bristol Temple Meads
Bristol Parkway   First Great Western
Great Malvern/Gloucester - Westbury/Weymouth
  Stapleton Road
(Southbound only)
Bristol Temple Meads
Patchway   First Great Western
Cardiff Central - Taunton
  Stapleton Road
(Northbound only, limited service)
Bristol Temple Meads
Newport   First Great Western
Cardiff Central - Portsmouth Harbour
  Bristol Temple Meads
First Great Western
London - Swansea
(Northbound only, limited service)
Patchway   CrossCountry
Cardiff Central - Manchester Piccadilly
(Limited service)
  Bristol Temple Meads

Bus numbers 581 and X18 stop in the Filton Abbey Wood car park. The 581, operated by Wessex Bus, runs between Hanham and Chipping Sodbury; the X18, operated by First Bristol, runs between Kingswood and Aztec West.[7][22][23]


There have been three different stations in the area of Filton Abbey Wood. The first, Filton, opened in 1864 just north the site of the current Filton Abbey Wood, and was closed in 1903.[note 1] A second station was opened a few hundred yards to the north, and for 58 years was known as Filton Junction.[24] This station closed in 1996, replaced by Filton Abbey Wood.[25]

First station: Filton

The first station at Filton opened on 8 September 1863 when services began on the Bristol and South Wales Union Railway (BSWUR), which ran from Bristol Temple Meads to New Passage Pier. At New Passage, passengers were transferred to a ferry to cross the River Severn to continue on in to Wales. The line, engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was built as single track broad gauge, with a platform on the western side of the line.[25][26] The station was situated in the county of Gloucestershire, 4 miles 53 chains (7.5 km) from Bristol Temple Meads and immediately south of the modern bridge over the A4174 Avon Ring Road.[5][25] The BSWUR was amalgamated with the Great Western Railway, who had from the beginning operated all BSWUR services, in 1868;[27] and in 1873 the line was converted to standard gauge.[26] Although the line made travel from Bristol to Wales easier, the change from train to ferry to train was inconvenient, and so a tunnel was built under the River Severn. To cope with the anticipated increase in demand, the line through Filton was doubled,[26] with a new platform built on the eastern side of the new track, complete with waiting room. The new track was first used on 1 September 1886 when the Severn Tunnel opened. The station continued in use until 1 July 1903, when it was closed and replaced by a new station further north.[note 1] There is no trace remaining of the original station.[25]

Second station: Filton Junction

In 1900, almost all trains from London to Wales travelled via Bath and Bristol, with some still routed via Gloucester. However, the final 15 miles (24 km) to Bristol were relatively slow and congested, so a new route was built further north, the GWR's Badminton Line, now part of the South Wales Main Line, running from Wootton Bassett to Patchway. The new line opened in 1903, and allowed faster services to Wales. There was a new triangular junction between Patchway and Filton, with the new line coming in from the east.[28] The new station, opened on 1 July 1903,[note 1] was on an embankment at the southern apex of the junction, just north of the present A4174.[25] It was 11 chains (0.22 km) north of the first station, 4 miles 64 chains (7.7 km) from Bristol Temple Meads and 112 miles 67 chains (181.6 km) from London Paddington via the new line.[5]

The new station had four platform faces - two outer platforms, and two inner platforms sharing an island between the southbound line from Patchway and the westbound line to London. The western platforms served trains between Bristol and Wales, while the eastern platforms served trains on the new line. The platforms were linked by a subway which led to the booking office, situated on ground level by the main entrance on the east side of the station. The approach road led south from the main entrance, towards the A4174.[2][25] There were waiting rooms and large canopies on each of the platforms. There were goods facilities to the south of the main road, on the west side of the line and covering the site of the first station. Facilities included a shed and covered loading platform, and, in later years, a coal depot. A signal box controlling the junction was on the east side of the line, south of the road.

Following the opening of the Henbury Loop Line, which diverged from the line towards Wales 3 chains (60 m) to the north, the station was renamed Filton Junction on 1 May 1910.[5][24][25] Trains on this line used the western platforms, and often operated loop services to and from Bristol Temple Meads via Clifton Down.[21] From 1928, trains could also run loop services via Clifton Down, Severn Beach and Patchway. As well as being useful for passengers changing trains (due to its junction status), Filton Junction was also used by workers at the nearby Filton Aerodrome and the attendant aircraft works.[25]

When the railways were nationalised in 1948, Filton Junction came under the aegis of the Western Region of British Railways.[29] Following the publication of the Beeching Report, the Henbury Line was closed to passengers in 1964, and service levels began to decline. The line between Pilning and Severn Beach was also closed, putting an end to loop services. The goods yard was closed in July 1965, and the station's name reverted to Filton from 6 May 1968. The station buildings were demolished in 1976, as were the platforms serving Badminton Line trains, as no trains on this line called at Filton anymore. The remaining two platforms had small replacement shelters built on them.[25]

In 1974, when the Local Government Act 1972 came into effect, the southern part of Gloucestershire, including the district of Filton, became part of the new county of Avon.[30] British Rail was split into business-led sectors in the 1980s, at which time operations at Filton passed to Regional Railways.[31]

In the 1990s, plans were made to build a new station in Filton and close the 1903 station. The last train called on 8 March 1996, with services moving to the new Filton Abbey Wood from 11 March, with two intervening days of no service due to a closure of the Severn Tunnel. The remains of Filton Junction can still be seen from passing trains, and the two western platforms are still in situ, albeit overgrown. The subway has been blocked off, and the access road is now a residential street called "The Sidings".[25]

Third station: Filton Abbey Wood

In the early 1990s, the Ministry of Defence procurement division was consolidated into a major office development in Filton, known as MoD Abbey Wood. As part of this development, a new station was built in Filton, primarily to serve the MoD workers. Construction began in 1995, and cost £1,400,000. The station, named Filton Abbey Wood, was opened to the public on 11 March 1996 and officially opened on 19 March by Minister for Transport Steven Norris MP and the Chair of Avon County Council.[25] Shortly after the station was opened, the county of Avon was disbanded, with the Filton region now governed by South Gloucestershire council.[32]

The new station was situated 23 chains (460 m) south of the first Filton station, and 34 chains (680 m) south of Filton Junction.[5] There were two platforms, each 108 metres (118 yd) long, separated by two running lines.[6] A ramped footbridge connected the platforms at the north end, and each platform had ground-level access from the sides: the eastern, southbound platform from MoD Abbey Wood; the western, northbound platform via a footpath from the car park to the north. There were metal and glass shelters on each platform and a small, rarely-used booking office on the southbound platform.[25]

Initial services at the station included local stopping services from Bristol to South Wales, and services between Gloucester and Westbury. Services towards Bath were of particular importance to the MoD, as many of their staff had been based there prior to the construction of MoD Abbey Wood.[25] South Gloucestershire council provided a subsidy for half-hourly services to Bath.[33] The station proved popular with MoD workers, local residents commuting into central Bristol, and also students and staff at the University of the West of England.[25]

When the railway was privatised in 1997, local services were franchised to Wales and West,[34] which was succeeded by Wessex Trains, an arm of National Express, in 2001.[35] The line through Filton closed for two weeks in June 2004 to enable the construction of a new platform and third running line on the west side of the station, separating trains towards Bristol Parkway from trains towards Wales before the station, and so allowing through-trains to pass stopping trains.[6][36] The project cost £16,000,000,[37] and caused the complete suspension of Severn Beach Line services to allow longer-distance services to use it as a diversion.[38]

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.[39][40][41] First introduced new services between Bristol Parkway and Weston-super-Mare, and between Cardiff Central and Taunton, each calling at Filton Abbey Wood.[42][43] From December 2006, Virgin CrossCountry began operating a single daily service Newcastle Central to Cardiff Central via Bristol Temple Meads and Filton Abbey Wood.[44][45] This service was taken over by Arriva CrossCountry when the CrossCountry franchise changed hands in 2007,[46] and then replaced by a daily service each direction between Cardiff Central and Manchester Piccadilly.[47]


First Great Western declined an option to continue the Greater Western passenger franchise beyond 2013, citing a desire for a longer-term contract due to the impending upgrade to the Great Western Main Line.[41] The franchise was put out to tender,[48][49][50] but the process was halted and later scrapped due to the fallout from the collapse of the InterCity West Coast franchise competition.[51] A two-year franchise extension until September 2015 was agreed in October 2013, following negotiations between First Great Western and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP.[52][53] The CrossCountry franchise is due to expire in 2019.[54]

The line through Filton Abbey Wood is due to be electrified by 2017 as part of the Great Western Main Line electrification project.[12][55] However, the Cross Country Route, the Bristol to Exeter Line and the Heart of Wessex Line will not be electrified, so services at Filton Abbey Wood will still be provided by diesel trains.[56] The group Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways supports the electrification continuing beyond the main lines,[57][58] as does MP for Weston-super-Mare John Penrose.[59][60] The electrification scheme also includes the four-tracking of the line through Filton to allow more services between Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads and to separate fast inter-city services from local stopping services.[61][62]

Filton Abbey Wood is on the Weston-super-Mare/Yate corridor, one of the main axes of the Greater Bristol Metro, a rail transport plan which aims to enhance transport capacity in the Bristol area. The plan will also see the reopening of the Henbury Loop Line and the reopening of Ashley Hill railway station.[63][64][65]

|- style="text-align: center;" | Patchway | style="background:#010385;" rowspan="2" |   | rowspan="2" | Greater Western franchise
Cross Country Route | style="background:#010385;" rowspan="2" |   | rowspan="2" | Ashley Hill |- style="text-align: center;" | Bristol Parkway |}



See also

  • Rail services in Bristol

External links

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