Bristol City Council

Local Transport Plan 2000

View the full LTP on Bristol City Council's Website


Light Rapid Transit (LRT)


"I would use Rapid Transit if it served my part of the city."
Car user

"A Rapid Transit scheme is the measure most likely to achieve long term success."
General response to the consultation

"Bring back the trams!"


76. A Rapid Transit system emerged as the single most popular issue from the extensive consultation the Councill carried out on this plan, with 90% of people stating that they wished to see its introduction into the city.

77. The need for a Rapid Transit system to serve the Greater Bristol area forms a significant element in the integrated strategy required to deliver the objectives set out in the LTP.
A Rapid Transit system offering the opportunity for a quantum leap forward in improvements to the quality, speed, convenience and accessibility of public transport has been developed by the Council working in partnership with South Gloucestershire Council and the private sector.

78. Exhaustive testing of appropriate technologies, routes and the phased introduction of a wider network has resulted in the decision to promote a light rail route between Almondsbury and the City Centre as Line 1 (see Figure 5.6)

79. The early involvement of the private sector in developing the scheme has resulted in a significant increase in Value for Money through the sharing of costs and risks of the development stage of the project, the identification and allocation of future risks and a business overview which has influenced positively the nature and performance of the project.
An outcome of this process was the production of a commercially-validated Outline Business Case which was submitted to Government in August 1998. The Outline Business Case demonstrated that the scheme conformed to the criteria set out in the Government's White Paper on Transport and was likely to achieve a high level of private sector investment ­ approximately 60% of the capital cost, then estimated to be £102m.

80. Central Government is supportive of the rôle of Light rail in delivering integrated transport, and recent Government guidance has emphasised that light rail schemes are effective in providing high quality public transport in densely used transport corridors and encouraging motorists to switch from their cars. The report of the ETRA select committee on Rapid Transit, published earlier in 2000, continues to build on this support.

81. At a local level, responses to the consultation on the development on the Local Transport Plan demonstrates its support for the strategy and for the Rapid Transit proposals. Furthermore, the provisional Local Transport settlement letters received by the two authorities in December 1999 were supportive of the scheme and its rôle within the strategy being promoted and recognised the partnership between the two Councils.

82. Rapid Transit forms an integral and essential part of the Council's transport policies. The studies from which the project has been developed have shown that without Rapid Transit the Council will not be able to meet its targets for reducing travel demand by car, reducing congestion and traffic-related pollution. Light rail technology has been demonstrated as the cornerstone of the most effective way to meet the objectives of the Council , whilst proving to be the most cost-effective and only practical solution for the corridor served by Line 1.
The system will share existing rail infrastructure over a significant length of the route and railtrack will play a large part in project investment.
Line 1 creates an opportunity to provide an integrated public transport network comprising Rapid Transit, rail and bus services working together; sharing interchanges, ticketing and information systems and other improved facilities to the considerable benefit of the community.

83. The location of Rapid Transit in the Avon Area has been chosen to maximise its rôle in meeting transport needs and strategic objectives. It links the major employment areas being developed at Filton/Parkway and the large and expanding residential area at Bradley Stoke with Bristol City Centre. It a so serves the main northern access corridor into Bristol City Centre, including areas of new employment and residential development where car ownership and use is relatively high.
The northern route provides an important strategic link from Bristol Parkway station and the vicinity of the M5/A38 interchange to Bristol City Centre. It would also assist in meeting regeneration objectives for the inner city suburbs of Bristol.
The route is shown as Figures 5.7 and 5.8 which illustrates the stops, interchanges and major land-uses served.

84. Bristol City Centre has a total workforce of over 90,000. A large number of workers will be within easy walking distance of the Rapid Transit route. Major employers in the city centre include banking, financial and lega services, several hospitals, the University of Bristol, loca government, and retailers in the Broadmead Shopping Centre. At the eastern end of the city centre section, the Rapid Transit will serve Temple Meads railway station and will greatly improve accessibility for rail travellers into and through the city centre.

85. The South Gloucestershire section of the route primarily serves a corridor of mixed residential and office development with a total estimated population of 75,000 and employment of about 40,000. Feeder services would widen this coverage. The inner Bristol suburbs through which the northern section of the route passes is an area of particularly high unemployment (16%) and low car ownership (39% of households without a car).
Further north, in the area from Filton to the M5/A38 interchange, lies the major area of job creation in the region, chiefly office development, with over 15,000 new jobs. This includes the Aztec West Business Park, Ministry of Defence Procurement Executive, Hewlett Packard, Du Pont, Sun Life and the University of the West of England. North of Bristol Parkway station is the new township of Bradley Stoke, one of the largest new housing areas in the UK which will eventually comprise 8,500 houses and a population of about 25,000, now more than half completed.

86. Rapid Transit will also serve a large number of potential sites for office and industrial development. In all, it is estimated by the planning authorities that the potential exists for about 400,000 square feet of new office development on sites with planning approval or proposed which would be within easy pedestrian reach of the central area Rapid Transit routes.

87. Conservative estimates of the performance of Line 1 indicate that it will remove 5 million vehicle kilometres from the road network in the Avon Area, 2.2 million of which would be in the peak hours. Patronage levels are forecast to rise to 11.5 million passenger journeys per annum in 2015.

88. Ongoing work to develop the project has latterly concentrated on a review, with the DETR, of the Outline Business Case. In particular the capital costs have been updated to a base of £120m. This has been incorporated into a new economic appraisal based on the Outline Business Case which is reported in the Appendix 7.

89. An appraisal Summary Table (AST) for LRT Line 1 is included in Appendix 7. It is anticipated that the Scheme Appraisal will be developed further over the Autumn, as the results of work currently being undertaken in consultation with DETR are incorporated and the scheme progressed to the Transport and Works Act stage.

90. The project has been specifically acknowledged in the Governments 10-year plan for transport as one of new Light rail schemes currently under consideration by Government. The government stated "Transport 2010 inc udes billions of pounds of public private investment for light rail schemes. This could allow the Bristol and South Gloucestershire Rapid Transit scheme to proceed, subject to the normal requirements for value for money appraisal and planning powers and satisfactory funding arrangements being agreed with the authorities."

91. Procurement of the project and funding issues are being developed and the Councils expect to pursue a public-private partnership arrangement to develop and finance the scheme. The Rapid Transit Scheme will generate substantial revenues however, as with any light rail scheme, the income generated will not be sufficient to make the scheme financially free-standing when account is taken of the initial capital cost.

92. The Councils are examining the availability, extent and timing of additional funding from central government and are actively pursuing other local sources including the potential for hypothecating revenue from Road User Charging in Bristol City Centre. The Councils have had extensive discussions with Partnerships UK and expect to be abl e to present proposals to government which achieve the most efficient use of both public and private contributions.