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Bristol Parkway railway station

Bristol Parkway
A view of Bristol Parkway station from the west.
Place Stoke Gifford
Local authority South Gloucestershire
Grid reference
Station code BPW
Managed by Great Western Railway
Number of platforms 3 (numbered 2 – 4)
DfT category B
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2002/03 1.293 million
2004/05 Increase 1.456 million
2005/06 Increase 1.633 million
2006/07 Increase 1.790 million
2007/08 Increase 1.897 million
2008/09 Increase 2.084 million
2009/10 Decrease 2.042 million
2010/11 Increase 2.115 million
2011/12 Increase 2.262 million
2012/13 Decrease 2.255 million
2013/14 Decrease 2.216 million
Original company Western Region of British Railways
1 May 1972 Station opened
1 July 2001 Refurbishment completed
9 May 2007 Third platform opened
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Bristol Parkway from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Bristol Parkway railway station, on the South Wales Main Line, is in the Stoke Gifford area of the Bristol conurbation. It is 112 miles (180 km) from London Paddington. Its three-letter station code is BPW. The station was opened in 1972 by British Rail, and was the first in a new generation of park and ride stations. It is the third-most heavily used station in the West of England, after Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa. There are three platforms, and a well-equipped waiting area. The station is managed by Great Western Railway, who provide most of the trains at the station, with CrossCountry providing the rest.

The line is not electrified, but will be by 2016 as part of the planned modernisation of the Great Western Main Line. A new platform will also be built, allowing increased services from London.


  • Description 1
  • Services 2
  • History 3
  • Future 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Bristol Parkway is located in the unitary authority of South Gloucestershire, in the Stoke Gifford area of the Bristol conurbation. The immediate surrounding area is mostly residential, with farmland to the south east.[1] The main road access is from the west, with the station situated close to the M4, M5 and M32 motorways, the latter being the Bristol "Parkway" from which the station takes its name,[2] as well as the A4174 Avon Ring Road.[1] The station is on the South Wales Main Line from London to Swansea, 111 miles 68 chains (180.01 km) from the eastern terminus at London Paddington.[3][note 1] It is also on the Cross Country Route from Bristol Temple Meads to York. Just to the west of the station is Stoke Gifford Junction, where the Henbury Loop Line to Avonmouth Docks and Cross Country Route to Bristol Temple Meads diverge from the line to South Wales.[4] To the east is a Network Rail maintenance training centre.[5][6] The next station north along the Cross Country Route is Yate, the next station south is Filton Abbey Wood. The next station east along the South Wales Main Line is Swindon, the next station west is Patchway, however there is only train per day calling at both Bristol Parkway and Patchway.[4][7][8][9]

The station is on an east/west alignment, with the main station building and car park to the north of the line.[10] There is a goods yard adjacent to the station to the south, with two loops for trains to pass.[1][4][11] The station has three platforms, numbered 2, 3 and 4. Platform 2 is to the south of the two main running lines, and serves westbound trains towards Wales and Bristol Temple Meads. Platforms 3 and 4 share an island to the north of the two main running lines, with a further two running lines between platform 4 and the car park.[10] Platform 3 serves mainly inter-city trains towards London and Birmingham New Street, while platform 4 is usually reserved for local services. There is a metal wall on platform 2, fencing off the goods yard. An enclosed footbridge provides access to the platforms, approximately a third of the way along platforms 2 and 3 (from west to east), and at the west end of platform 4.[10][12] Platforms 2 and 3 are opposite each other, while platform 4 is offset from platform 3, starting at the footbridge and extending further to the east. Platform 2 is 257 metres (281 yd) long, platform 3 is 255 metres (279 yd) and platform 4 is 278 metres (304 yd). Platforms 3 and 4 are signalled for bidirectional running, while platform 2 is unidirectional.[11] The footbridge can be accessed by both stairs and lifts.[10]

The station building, a sweeping metal construction opened in 2001,[12] contains a booking office, waiting rooms, payphones, cash machines, shops, toilets and a café overlooking the tracks. There are waiting rooms on each platform, as well as vending machines and LED displays giving next train information. Ticket barriers are in use at the station. The pay-and-display car park, run by APCOA, has 1,810 spaces.[10][13][14][15]

Bristol Parkway was the first of a new generation of park and ride railway stations, and a large number of passengers use it for that purpose. Over the decade 2002–2012, the number of passengers starting or ending a journey at Bristol Parkway grew by 1 million passengers per year to 2.25 million, with a further 740,000 passengers changing trains there, giving an annual footfall of just under 3 million passengers and making it the 216th busiest station in the country and the third busiest in the West of England (after Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa) as of the 2011/12 financial year.[14][16][17] In the 2006/07 financial year, over 100,000 passengers used Parkway to travel to or from Bristol Temple Meads,[18] and a further 500,000 used it to travel to or from London Paddington.[19]

The line through Bristol Parkway has a linespeed of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) on platforms 2 and 3 (40 miles per hour (64 km/h) westbound on platform 3), and 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) on platform 4.[11] The loading gauge is W8, and the line handles over 20 million train tonnes per year.[20] It is not electrified, though it is planned that it will be electrified by 2016 as part of the 21st-century modernisation of the Great Western Main Line.[21]


Bristol Parkway is served by intercity services operated by CrossCountry and Great Western Railway. Here, a northbound CrossCountry service passes a westbound First Great Western service.
In 2009, a First Great Western service to Weymouth arrives at Bristol Parkway from the north.

The station is managed by Great Western Railway, who operate most rail services from the station.[10] As of the December 2013 timetable, the basic Great Western Railway weekday service consists of two trains per hour each way between London Paddington and Cardiff Central (with one extended to Swansea), one terminating service to and from Weston-super-Mare, and one service each way between Westbury and Gloucester via Bristol Temple Meads (with one train every two hours extended to Great Malvern and Weymouth).[7][8][22]

CrossCountry also operate trains from Bristol Parkway – as of the December 2013 timetable, the basic weekday service consists of one hourly train each way between Bristol Temple Meads and Manchester Piccadilly, and one hourly train each way between Plymouth, Bristol and Edinburgh Waverley via Leeds & Newcastle Central. Both these services run via Birmingham New Street.[7][9][23]

Great Western Railway services between London and Wales are formed of High Speed Train (HST) sets,[7] while other GWR services use a mix of Class 150, 153 and 158 diesel multiple-unit trains. Until 2012, Class 143 Pacer units were a regular sight, but these have mostly been moved south to work in Devon and Cornwall following a cascade of Class 150/1 units from London Midland and London Overground.[24][25] CrossCountry services are usually formed of Class 220 and 221 Voyager diesel-electric multiple units, with some services between Scotland and the South West employing HST sets.[9]

The standard journey time to London Paddington is 90 minutes, to Cardiff Central 40 minutes, to Birmingham New Street 75 minutes, and to Bristol Temple Meads 12 minutes.[7][9]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Bristol Temple Meads   CrossCountry
Bristol – Manchester
  Cheltenham Spa
South West – North East and Scotland
Swindon   Great Western Railway
London – Cardiff/Swansea
Yate   Great Western Railway
Great Malvern/GloucesterWestbury/Weymouth
  Filton Abbey Wood
Terminus   Great Western Railway
Bristol Parkway – Weston-super-Mare

Bristol Parkway is served by several bus routes linking it with the rest of Bristol and South Gloucestershire. These include

These routes are operated by First Bristol, First Somerset and Avon, Wessex Bus and Severnside Transport.[26][27][28]


Steam locomotive Pendennis Castle at Bristol Parkway in 1977.
A Class 33 locomotive hauls a freight train through Bristol Parkway in 1981. The walls behind the platforms have been added by this time.
A westbound First Great Western HST set at Bristol Parkway in 2006. The site of what would become platform 4 can be seen, as can the platforms for the Royal Mail depot.

The line through Bristol Parkway was originally opened in 1903 as part of the Great Western Railway's "Badminton Line" from Wootton Bassett to Patchway, a short-cut for trains from London to South Wales, avoiding Bath and Chippenham.[12] The station was built on the site of the Stoke Gifford marshalling yard, which closed on 4 October 1971, having become surplus to requirements with the cessation of wagonload freight trains.[29] The station's development was seen as a response to the potential growth of housing and commercial developments in north Bristol, with proximity to the M4 and M5 motorway interchange at Almondsbury also important.[12] The name "Parkway" came from proximity to the M32 motorway, known as the Bristol Parkway,[2] although the term Parkway has since been applied to park and ride stations throughout the United Kingdom.[4] When the station was built it was outside the developed urban area, but the growth of housing and commercial development in adjoining areas of the North Fringe has brought it within the conurbation, with many large office complexes opened nearby.[1][14][30][31]

The station, owned by British Rail, opened on 1 May 1972.[32] Services were operated by the Western Region until British Rail was split into business-led sectors in the 1980s, after which Parkway was served by the InterCity and Regional Railways divisions. The original structures, built by Stone & Co. of Bristol, were basic – two island platforms connected by an open metal footbridge, with a wood and brick building containing the booking facilities and waiting rooms. Platform 1 (the modern platform 3), on the north side of the tracks, was for trains towards London and Birmingham, and platform 2 was for trains towards Wales and Bristol Temple Meads. The station opened with a 600-space car park and a fastest journey to London of 95 minutes,[33] which was subsequently reduced to 75 minutes with the introduction of the new High Speed Trains in the mid-70s.[29][34] Platform canopies were added in 1973, along with a cover for the footbridge. Further minor improvements were implemented over the next thirty years, including a new booking office and small extensions to the car park.[12]

Following the privatisation of British Rail in 1997, services at Bristol Parkway were franchised to several different train operating companies. South Wales Main Line services were provided by Great Western Trains, which was later rebranded as First Great Western;[35] services from Bristol to Birmingham and the north were operated by Virgin CrossCountry;[36] and local services were franchised to Wales & West,[37] which was in turn succeeded in 2001 by Wessex Trains, a subsidiary of National Express.[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, which was later rebranded as Great Western Railway.[39][40][41][42] Virgin CrossCountry services were taken over by Arriva CrossCountry in 2007.[43]

In the early 2000s, the Royal Mail began construction of the West of England Post Office Rail Depot just to the east of the station, taking over some of the station car park to provide a platform and warehouse for postal trains. The 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2) building opened in 2002, with the Royal Mail stating it would save 250,000 miles (400,000 km) of lorry journeys per year on local roads.[12][44] However, the depot closed only two years later in 2004, when the Post Office ceased to use the rail network.[45] Royal Mail offered the terminal for use by freight companies, but there were no takers.[44] In 2008 it was reopened as a Network Rail maintenance training centre in a £2,500,000 project which saw the construction of a mezzanine floor, a welding workshop and a 4,000 square feet (370 m2) extension.[5][6]

In 2000, work began on a complete redevelopment of the station building. It opened on 1 July 2001, and featured lifts and generally enhanced facilities. Local roads were enhanced to help speed passengers' journeys to and from the station, and a new multi-storey car park was built to replace the spaces lost to the Royal Mail facility.[12] A dedicated bus interchange was opened in 2003.[14] In 2006, construction started on a new platform face on the north side of platform 1, to ease congestion for trains toward Birmingham and London. The new platform, platform 4, was opened on 9 May 2007 by rail minister Tom Harris MP. As part of the reconstruction, the waiting room at the east end of platform 1 was demolished, and replaced with an extended waiting area and customer help desk. Platform 1 was subsequently redesignated platform 3. The work cost £3,000,000, and was funded by Network Rail, with First Great Western contributing £100,000 towards the new waiting room and help desk.[46]

Despite the large car park, the increase in passenger numbers at Parkway in recent years has led to problems with on-street parking, leading to the commissioning of a new 200-space car park 500 metres (550 yd) east of the station.[14][47] It opened in Spring 2011, but was used by only 139 motorists in its first three months, and as of August 2012 was averaging only 10 motorists per day. It is expected that traffic will increase when a new bus link is opened to transfer drivers from the car park to the station.[48] A new multi-storey car park on the station site with 710 spaces was opened on 5 September 2014 by Baroness Kramer, Minister of State for Transport. Construction of the car park, which began in mid-2013, caused a short-term lack of spaces for commuters.[49] The car park cost £13 million and was funded jointly by Network Rail and the Department for Transport under the Station Commercial Projects Fund.[13][15]

Improved cycle facilities, including a bike hire scheme, were provided in the late 2000s.[14]


First Great Western declined a contractual 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,[50][51][52] but the process was halted and later scrapped due to the fallout from the collapse of the InterCity West Coast franchise competition.[53] A two-year franchise extension until September 2015 was agreed in October 2013,[54][55] and subsequently extended until March 2019.[56][57][58] The CrossCountry franchise is also due to expire in 2019.[59]

The South Wales Main Line from London to Cardiff is due to be electrified by 2016, as is the line to Bristol Temple Meads.[21][60] However, the lines to Weston-super-Mare and Birmingham will not be electrified, so local and CrossCountry services will still be provided by diesel trains, with "Sprinter" units on local services to be replaced by Class 165 and 166 "Turbo" units.[61][62] The group Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways supports the electrification continuing to Weston,[63][64] as does MP for Weston-super-Mare John Penrose.[65][66] The electrification scheme also includes the four-tracking of Filton Bank, which will allow more services between Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads, and separate fast inter-city services from local stopping services.[67][68][69] New Intercity Express Trains will be introduced, and will be maintained at the Filton Triangle depot just west of Bristol Parkway.[70] There will be a new platform at Parkway for westbound trains to allow new services to run from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads, calling only at Bristol Parkway, shaving 20 minutes off the journey time.[68][71][72] The area will also be resignalled.[68]

Preceding station Future services Following station
London Paddington   Greater Western franchise
London – Bristol
  Bristol Temple Meads

Bristol Parkway 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.[73][74] The scheme could see the reopening of the Henbury Loop Line to passengers, with the possibility of services from Bristol Temple Meads to Bristol Parkway via Clifton Down and Henbury.[75]

See also


  1. ^ Railways in the United Kingdom are, for historical reasons, measured in miles and chains. There are 80 chains to the mile.


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External links

  • Official British Rail photo of Parkway, just before opening in 1972.
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