Avon Riverside Opening Postponed

Looking Glum.  Business Development Manager David Cole (left) and AVR Director Stuart Hobday are just two of the AVR members who have worked so hard to get our new station Avon Riverside open at Easter.  They sit on the newly extended track at the River Avon waiting for the Office of the Rail Regulator to process the Railway Act Licence Exemption, likely to be the end of April.

Plans to open Avon Riverside for Easter have now had to be shelved, as the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR) has decided that under the Railways Act it has to offer other operators such as Virgin Trains or First Great Western the opportunity to run on the new stretch - even though we are a stand alone Heritage Railway and such an option is plainly not possible on the 300 yard new stretch of line.  Ian Cook, spokesman for ORR said, "ORR has made every effort to progress the application as quickly as possible.  We have done everything in our power to reduce the burden on this operator and indeed propose to grant a licence exemption without conditions".  This however cannot be done until the statutory time limit has taken place and this is going to be at least 28th April, meaning that our official opening of the station will now probably take place over the May Bank Holiday.  Further information on the situation is contained within Stuart Hobdays report HERE.

The Bristol Evening Post, which ran a news article on Thursday March 25, also used up part of their editorial column to state what a ridiculous situation this was.  For those who did not see it, I have reprinted it below.

Bristol Evening Post Editorial Comment.


The privatisation of the railways has been anything but successful.  In fact it has proved to be the very opposite of logic and reason.  Yet no one could have predicted that the law which brought it about would have caused such problems to the Avon Valley Railway at Bitton.

Here are volunteers who, through sheer hard work and dedication, have managed to extend their preserved steam line and build a new station beside the River Avon.

And what do they find?  That the Act of Parliament which saw the railways split up means their newly laid stretch of track, which runs for 300 yards, has to be offered publicly to all other railway companies to operate.

It is, of course, absurd.  No one else could operate the line even if they wanted to.

What will happen is, after a specified period when no one has come forward, the Avon Valley Railway will be allowed to adopt the line.

This is bureaucracy gone mad.  But it also means that the railway will be unable to run trains into its new station over Easter.  To do so would break the law.

Surely it's not beyond the wit of the Government to issue an exemption for the Avon Valley Railway.  This line is a popular attraction and one which politicians should be encouraging instead of getting in its way".

Bristol Evening Post Editorial Comment.

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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 28/3/2004.