Don Foster MP*


Bath’s MP, Don Foster, will today (Monday) witness the start of work to rebuild Freshford Station platform.

After 10 years of campaigning, and a string of broken promises, the dangerous stepping distance off the train, that has prevented so many locals from using the station, will soon be a thing of the past.

Main ImageDon met with Network Rail bosses in March and secured promises of action. Today those promises have been delivered.

Commenting, Don said,

“I am quite simply delighted that Network Rail is undertaking this work.

“The people of Freshford have looked forward to this day for so long.

“They are to be congratulated on fighting such a tenacious campaign, led by Cllr Gitte Dawson, but after the string of many broken promises and false hopes this ork starts not a moment too soon.

“If Britain is to have the safe, reliable and affordable public transport system that it deserves and desperately needs, then projects like this are a must. At the very least we should be able to easily get on and off trains.

“This is memorable day in Freshford’s history.”



1988. Southbound railway line was realigned to allow 'passing' trains to operate at a higher line speed creating large stepping distance.

Prior to the commencement of the work Avon County Council was advised by the then General Manager of British Rail (Western Region), Mr B. D. Scott, that the related work to raise the platform to make it 'level' with the floor of a train would be completed in a maximum period of six months following the completion of the track work.

1995. Martin Reynolds, the director for the Great Western zone of Railtrack, gave a written undertaking to Avon County Council, that the outstanding southbound platform improvements at Freshford station would be completed not later than 31 March 2023 - that undertaking was assigned to Bath and North East Somerset Council upon the dissolution of Avon County Council in 1996.

1997. Don Foster first raised the issue with Railtrack. In a reply to DF, Andy Hancock, Acting Director, Railtrack, Great Western, confirmed that Freshford improvements were not within the first two of five funding tranches.

August 1999. David Mather (Railtrack External Development Manager) confirms there is a £45.5K Railtrack budget available for the platform work and invites BathNES (Mike Finch, Council Transport Planning Officer) ) to propose accompanying improvements to be financed by BathNES. Such measures are agreed and £8K allocated towards it by BathNES. Work included re-gauging both platforms and other improvements and scheduled for Summer 2000, to be completed by “the end of the winter timetable, ie 27th May 2000).

June 2000. Work not undertaken. Gerald Corbett, CEO, Railtrack confirmed 13/6/00 that Freshford likely to be included within work planned for 01/02 financial year.

December 2000. Robert Plamplin, Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), confirms in a letter on 8/12/00 that Freshford Station was included in Railtrack’s Stepping Distances programme, now to be funded by the SRA, and work scheduled for 2002. Confirmed in a letter from Vic Colman (HMRI) 1/3/01.

October 2001. Robert Plamplin, SRA, stated 1/10/01 that the Stepping Distances Programme is on hold, but the SRA had funds to support schemes through the Rail Passenger Partnership (PPP) and invites bids. Meanwhile David Mather, Railtrack 23/11/01 confirms Freshford still in top four priority stations.

May 2002. Cllr Gitte Dawson attempts to progress bid through RPP (jointly from BathNES and Wessex Trains), but Railtrack refused to provide details of the cost without a guarantee that SRA would pay for the work.

October 2002. Following letter from DF, John Armitt, Chief Executive, Railtrack, confirmed that funding for the work was being agreed, and that work will commence within the financial year.

March 2003. Jon King of Network Rail confirmed on 21/3/03 “project has commenced and the platform works at Freshford Station are currently at the design stage.”

However, Richard Bowker, Chair of SRA, confirmed on 25/3/03 there is no business case for extensive rebuilding of the platform, but would ask train operator to see if there are any other ways in which accessibility can be improved at an affordable cost.

Spring 2004. Network Rail submit ‘proposal in concept’ for “raised section”. HMRI request further information. But HMRI disapproves of proposal as it does not meet with recently strengthened requirements for new platforms.

September 2004. 30/9/04 John Armitt confirms “it is now necessary to expand our efforts to address this to a nationally focused review” National strategy established.

19th January 2005 DF met Robin Gisby, Director of Operations & Gary White, Head of Public Affairs, Network Rail

March 2005 Funding signed off by Chief Executive of Network Rail

23rd March 2005 Email from Network Rail confirming proposed start date as Autumn 2005.

28th November 2005 Work starts to raise platform 2.

This article published: 06/12/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank

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