SideTracked - Shirehampton
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Shirehampton railway station serves the village of Shirehampton near to the town of Avonmouth, England. This station is 7.25 miles (12 km) north-west from Bristol Temple Meads on the Severn Beach Line.
Shirehampton saw the first sod turned for the construction of the Bristol Port Railway and Pier on 19 February 1863, the ceremony performed by the Mayoress of Bristol Mrs S V Hare.
The station opened on 6 March 1865 as a single south-facing platform on the Hotwells to Avonmouth line, with . The station was the original headquarters of the BPRP, and the original building contained a booking office, line superintendent's office and a porter's room.
Originally there were six trains per day each direction on weekdays and four on Sundays, although the Sunday service did not stop at Shirehampton until a month later due to protestaions by the local church.
The BPRP was eventually taken over by the Great Western Railway, who in 1893 lengthened the platform and built a station master's house. An engine shed was sited at the east end of the station from 1875 to 1900 when it burnt down, to be replaced by a depot at Avonmouth. The line through the station was doubled in 1903, with the first service using it on 16 May, and the station was remodelled at the same time - the main station building had a waiting room added, and a new southern (down) platform was built with a small shelter and a footbridge to link the two. A goods yard was added, and subsequently extended in 1921 to help construction of the A4 Portway. A signal box was also sited on the down platform.
By 1920, Shirehampton station employed a station master, three clerks and four porters; with staff levels increased to 10 by the 1930s. However, the station lost its goods traffic in November 1965, although an oil depot next to the station saw some occasional use up to the 1980s, and was unstaffed from 17 July 1967.
The line was singled in October 1970 as an economy measure, and the southern platform and signal box abandoned. The buildings on the northern platform remained until being destroyed by fire in the 1990s, replaced by a small brick shelter. The goods yard has been redeveloped as an industrial unit, and the station master's house is now a private dwelling. A small car park has been built near the A4.
Services at Shirehampton are all operated using mainly Class 150 Sprinter units. Monday to Friday, three trains every two hours run from Bristol Temple Meads to Avonmouth, with one extended to St Andrew's Road and Severn Beach, giving a service at Shirehampton of one train in each direction every 40 minutes. On Saturdays there is a similar level of service, but more trains continue to Severn Beach. Sunday sees a roughly hourly service to and from Bristol, with only two services extending to Severn Beach, except from the May timetable change until September, when all services are extended.
With the coming upgrade to the Great Western Main Line, the main line from London to Bristol is due to be electrified by 2016. However, the electrification will not extend beyond the main lines, so Shirehampton will continue to be served by diesel trains.
Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West, questioned whether electrification could continue to Clifton Down. Then-Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond replied that it would have to be looked at in the future. The group Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways supports the electrification of the entire Severn Beach Line.
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