Bristol Arena won't be accessible by train until 2026 as railway station delayed

Proposed plans for North Filton station next to the new arena Credit: Network Rail/ YTL

A planned railway station by the new arena in Bristol will not open until 2026 after several design changes caused delays to the project.

The station was initially due to open in 2023, before the new YTL Arena opens in 2024, as a key part of the transport plan to get people to concerts.

North Filton is one of three new stations opening over the next few years, with services running from Bristol Temple Meads to Ashley Down, Bristol Arena, and Henbury.

The project, which is part of MetroWest phase 2, is reopening an old railway line with newly-built stations.

As well as the 17,000-capacity YTL Arena, North Filton station will serve thousands of new houses planned for the neighbouring Filton Airfield in the Brabazon development.

But it will be at least four years before passengers can catch a train to North Filton.

A source at the West of England combined authority said the delays to North Filton station are due to several design changes.

These include needing to redesign a footbridge over the tracks, delays to the Henbury station - which impact North Filton as the two are being built together - and the need to do "value engineering and cost avoidance exercises" to keep project costs in control.

Work on building the three new stations is being led by the West of England combined authority. A planning application for North Filton train station has gone to South Gloucestershire Council, which has not yet decided whether to grant planning permission.

Another issue is how often the trains will run, with initial plans for just one service an hour.

The station is due to open by mid-2026, but the combined authority is looking at options for accelerating the work and we are working closely with them.

A spokesman for YTL said: "We are working with Network Rail and Great Western Railway [GWR] on the frequency of trains, particularly on event days.

"We have recently submitted a revised planning application to South Gloucestershire Council to increase the number of units on the Brabazon development.

"This application is based upon a frequency of four trains per hour at peak times."

According to GWR, trains could eventually run every half hour to the new arena, but this depends on first getting the funding for the upgrades.

The current infrastructure cannot run a 15-minute train service, vastly reducing how many passengers can travel to and from gigs.

A spokesman for GWR said: "Services will initially be hourly, with a plan to increase to half-hourly either all day or for evening events, subject to funding. We cannot deliver a 15-minute frequency on the current infrastructure."

Much further down the line, early-stage plans include completing the Henbury Loop by introducing a new service from North Filton and Henbury along an old existing railway to Avonmouth.

This would loop back to other Bristol stations like Clifton Down and Montpelier.

A future mass transit system could also include a station at the Brabazon development.

But in the meantime, thousands of people travelling to the YTL Arena will not be able to get directly there by train.

Three existing stations are nearby, at Parkway, Filton and Patchway, but these are all about half an hour from the arena on foot. Shuttle buses will also travel to the arena, and a large car park will be built.

Credit: Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service