Rail passengers are set to see the historic Bristol Temple Meads brought back to its former glory with a huge restoration programme getting underway this summer.

Network Rail’s plans have reached an important milestone with the signing of Taziker as primary contractor in a three-year refurbishment of the famous Victorian roof on the city’s oldest station.

In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the £24 million contract is good news for the economy with around 75 full-time workers expected onsite at the peak of the project.

Taziker has also committed to creating apprenticeships for local people; offering a unique opportunity to work alongside experts with experience on other heritage landmarks including Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol and the Royal Albert Bridge in Plymouth.

As well as refreshing the roof for a cleaner, brighter experience for passengers, work on the Grade I listed structure will protect it from further deterioration for future generations. It will involve extensive metal and woodwork repairs and the complete re-glazing of the roof and canopies. This is the first major refurbishment of the station roof in over 25 years; due for completion in 2023.

The project is part of a wider programme of railway upgrades in the area to improve reliability, capacity and the overall passenger experience.

This includes the remodelling of a crucial junction just outside the station; a complete rewire of the station’s electrical system, and in collaboration with West of England Combined Authority the creation of a new station entrance which will offer access to a new university of Bristol campus and the east of the city.

Mike Gallop, Western Route Director, Network Rail, said: “This is a great moment for Bristol and the whole West of England as we will be providing a brighter station for passengers, worthy of the original creator, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

We’re ambitious about our plans for the railway in the city, and this is just the first step in providing a world-class station to enable more people to get to their jobs and encouraging more investment in the area.”

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “I’m really pleased that Temple Meads will be renovated while we look forward to future expansion of an eastern entrance. This is a much-needed step forward in the enhancement of the station and a significant boost for Bristol during this really difficult time.

The Council is working to improve the transport network in Bristol for pedestrians and cyclists, and we’re pushing ahead with the Bus Deal to make it easier for residents in Bristol to travel safely and sustainably. Making improvements to Temple Meads feeds into Bristol’s ambitions for cleaner air and carbon neutrality.

We’re grateful for the progress that has been made so far and look forward to seeing the final improvements to a symbol of Bristol’s past and future transport network.”

Tom Nicotra, Business Development Director, Taziker said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work on another of Brunel’s masterpieces and have experience working on landmarks including Bristol’s iconic Clifton Suspension bridge and the Royal Albert bridge in Plymouth.

We understand the special place that these pieces of infrastructure hold in the hearts of local communities. They represent a gateway to the history of the area and a living place of the city’s heritage. We look forward to restoring this fantastic piece of Victorian engineering.”

Nina Howe, Passenger Manager, Transport Focus said: “Passengers will welcome this investment in Bristol Temple Meads station. We know their satisfaction with the station had improved, but it was still lagging behind other major stations including Paddington and Reading. The refurbishment of the roof will go a long way to improve the overall environment for passengers. Network Rail and train operators will need to keep any disruption during the work to a minimum with visible, helpful staff on hand to provide support.”