Last train - No More!


The last train to call...for a while - the line has come alive...after 38 long years!!!

See News of Re-opening below

This photograph (right) is one of a series taken of the outbound last passenger service train, running in under the footbridge at Clifton Bridge station in 1964 - and yes, at the end of the 20th Century, rusted rails, rotted sleepers, and traces of the platform, still existed here, amid undergrowth and overgrowth.....
Early 60s Separated by: The Passage of Time Late 90s
News of Re-opening was announced on 28 November, 2000.
The go-ahead was given for a £15,000,000 investment, to re-open the line to serve the Royal Portbury Dock, close to Portishead.

Prior to closure, Portbury was the last - or penultimate - station on the line before Portishead. The growth of freight traffic from Royal Portbury Dock, and the considerable growth of Portishead itself, should eventually allow a viable passenger service as well.
Fortunately, the track bed was safeguarded through all these years, though much of the track itself  became barely visible. This has now changed...a flail was brought in to clear things quickly...trackwork at the Parson Street end was noted to have been relaid/reballasted at the end of May 2001... and a whole new line had taken shape by Autumn. New signs of life at last - Parson St. Jnc.

Even the Clifton Bridge station footbridge seen above, was being restored. 
Enthusiast charters were planned once operations had settled down, and the sight of these workers happily passing Ashton Gate Platform in October 2001 might suggest that Railtrack could have made some much-needed cash by offering trolley rides to the public...
Who knows - the once unthinkable possibility of opening this platform again would be a relatively minor task. Perhaps your webmaster may live to see Prairie tanks grandly rolling up again, or the memorable sight of a Bulleid Pacific from Brighton with a football crowd...
Jolly-trolley passing Ashton Gate Platform
VIPs were transported to Portbury on December 21st, 2001 by a train hauled by saddle tank "Portbury" (ex Avonmouth Docks), and Transport Minister John Spellar opened the new terminal, now valued at £21m.
Freight services officially began on January 7th, 2002. The first week produced a curious accident...a heavy train from Portbury derailed at Temple Meads station, then rerailed itself.
 
This coal empties train is returning to Portbury on 15th January, during the second week of (resumed!) operations. Only a couple of trains ran during week 1, so this was the first fully operational week.

The location - Ashton Gate - is the one seen from a dmu about 38 years earlier.

Class 66 with coal empties at Ashton Gate
The first paying passengers arrived in the Gorge, courtesy of Pathfinder Tours, on the 8th June, 2002. A big surprise - the train ran right to the mouth of the Avon, where it meets the Bristol Channel.
Onlookers may have received a big surprise, too - seeing a huge formation of 14 coaches with 2 x class 37 locomotives top/tail - 38 years after the "last" train.
Super Power - 2 x 37s each end
The first passengers again
...going all the way.
Another fully-booked charter ran through the Gorge on September 7th, 2002, organised by Hertfordshire Rail Tours, followed by steam tours in 2003/2004.

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