Montpelier railway station is located in the Bristol ward of Ashley (Bristol ward), north of the city centre, serving the districts of Montpelier, Cotham, Ashley Down and St Andrews. The surrounding area is mostly residential, with shops on the nearby A38 Cheltenham Road. The station can be accessed step-free from Station Road to the south, or by a footbridge and steps from Cromwell Road to the north. The station is on the Severn Beach Line from Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach, 2 miles 68 chains (4.6 km) from Bristol Temple Meads, and 10 miles 55 chains (17.2 km) from Severn Beach. It is the third station from Temple Meads, and first station of the branch part of the line (the first two stations, Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road, are on the main line Cross Country Route). The station is on a roughly east-west alignment, curving to the north, with a single 144-yard (132 m)-long curved platform to the south of the track, serving trains in both directions. Directly to the east of the station is the 268-yard (245 m)-long Montpelier Tunnel, and to the west is The Arches bridge over the A38. The station's northern platform was abandoned in 1970 and is overgrown.
Facilities at the station are minimal – there are a few chairs and timetable information is provided. There are help points on the platform, giving next train information and allowing passengers to contact staff. There is no ticket office, nor any self-service ticket machines. The station building is used as a workshop and showroom for a company selling fireplaces, and is bricked up on the platform side. It is however colourfully decorated with a mural, painted as a collaborative effort between the Severnside Community Rail Partnership and Fairfield High School. The Severnside CRP also tend the station's garden in conjunction with the nearby Colston's Girls' School. There is no car park or taxi rank, but there are bus stops on Cromwell Road, and more on the busy A38 Cheltenham Road roughly 400 yards (370 m) away. Cycle storage is available on the platform.
The line through Montpelier has a 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) speed limit for diesel multiple units, and 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) for other trains. The line, which is not electrified, has loading gauge W6A, and carries less than 5 million train tonnes per year. In the 2013/14 financial year, approximately 120,000 passengers used Montpelier station, making it the 1592nd busiest station in the country and the fifth busiest within the Bristol unitary authority area. This was an increase of almost 100% from the 2002–03 financial year, and reflected a general rise in usage of the Severn Beach Line.