By Dan Evans
A FLURRY of hands marked the passionate start of a campaign to reopen Saltford railway station.
More than 120 people gathered at Saltford Hall last nightTUE in near unanimous support for the drive by Saltford Environment Group.
The station, which opened in 1841, was closed in 1970 and the buildings alongside the A4 demolished.
The SEG believes the Government’s planned electrification of the Great Western mainline from London to Cardiff is an opportunity “too good to miss” for people who live in the village between Keynsham and Bath.
The Government investment and improvements over the next few years should lead to faster, more frequent trains and campaigners hope Saltford can be a part of services linking it to Bristol, Bath and potentially other areas.
At the first public meeting to discuss the potential reopening of Saltford’s defunct station, when the public were asked who supported the idea, all but a few raised their hands.
Coinciding with the Evening Post’s Let’s Get Bristol Moving campaign, the meeting’s panel was made up of SEG leader Ben Eve, SEG transport spokesman Chris Warren, Bath and North
East Somerset Council cabinet member for transport, Councillor Roger Symonds, Saltford Parish Council vice chairman Duncan Hounsell corrand independent chairman Dick Bateman.
Opening the meeting, Mr Bateman posed the question: “Is it time to bring Saltford station back?”
Beaming at the “wonderful turnout”, Mr Warren said: “Could anyone hazard a guess how much fuel for your car is going to cost in five years’ time? It’s already £6.50 – we’ll be looking at £10 a gallon or maybe even more. In the not too distant future this station could be a vital asset for us.
“At the end of the day, we’re here to show there’s a need, or there’s a desire, to have our station back.”
Mr Warren argued a new station could have a positive effect on house prices and encourage people to come to Saltford, boosting its economy.
He added: “The main thing is we get that little red dot on that map to say, yes, we’ve got a station.”
Mr Eve said it was an “exciting opportunity” and would help the village become more sustainable and reduce its carbon footprint.
Lib Dem councillor Mr Symonds said: “Our view is that rail should play a bigger part in moving people between cities and communities.
“It’s an opportunity to take up the challenge and I can see from the numbers here tonight that you are willing to take up that challenge to get something that’s of real benefit to your community.”
Sheila Linfield, of Camerton Close, could remember the “very sad day” the station closed. As members of her family had worked in the rail industry, she said that she owed it to them to be at the meeting.
The 81-year-old grandmother of four said: “I still drive but I would be willing to give up my car tomorrow if there was a station in Saltford because I would love to walk there and get on a train. I do love trains.”
Residents of The Shallows – which runs alongside part of the railway line – raised several concerns.
Cath and Clive Munns, who have lived there for five years, are worried about people parking on their street to use the station. They also want possible light and noise pollution to be looked at before decisions are made.
Mrs Munns said she would use the station but added: “We love where we live and we don’t want it spoilt.”
Noel Dawson urged all of the considerations – positive and negative – to be looked at before people wholeheartedly support the idea.
Parish council vice chairman Mr Hounsell said that, at the moment, the parish council was neutral on the idea but he will put forward a motion at the next parish meeting to fully support the campaign.
The SEG is in the process of setting up a website.