Activists Briefing Issue 40
IN THE NEWS
Our national media spokesman has issued a press release about the Radstock Line issue. Basically, developers want to build on railway land in Radstock, blocking the line. Norton-Radstock is one of the largest urban settlements in the South West without any form of connection to the national rail network. A planning inspector had previously recommended 80 homes on the site, which would allow future rail use. The current proposals under consideration are for 210 homes. The press release resulted in Bruce being interviewed on GWR fm. It now seems a decision won't be taken until January.
Following the press interest a letter appeared in Somerset Guardian on 27th November from Cate Le Grice·Mack, chairman of Norton-Radstack Regeneration Company saying that “The NRR/Bellway development plans for Radstock do not block off the rail line or access to it. As a company we are committed to the wider transport use of the old line to Frome and beyond.”
This letter provoked George Bailey, a Director of North Somerset Railway Company Ltd to write that “I was pleased to read last week in the letters column that Norton Radstock Regeneration Company finally support the concept of a full railway link from Frome to Radstock: as they say, it will significantly aid the regeneration of Radstock as well as contribute to the environmental well-being of the area. There are a few points which should be remembered when applauding this apparent change of heart.”
These points included “Why have our previous submissions been ignored?” and “A more specific commitment would be welcomed, such as more openness and the plans and to remind Cate that we have attempted to work with her and NRR in the past to no avail: will this time be better? In the meantime, our petition continues to attract strong support (if anyone has not yet signed it can found at http://www.northsomersetrailway.com/) and reminds Bath & North East Somerset Council that there is very great emotion among local, former residents and regular visitors about the potential loss of the link.
There's been activity on the Portishead line campaign. On Sunday 26th October, BBC TV showed a programme featuring Travel journalist Simon Calder putting forward the strong case for reopening the line. FOSBR have been organising a postcard campaign to persuade the West Of England Partnership to bid for government funding for the project. This attracted some TV coverage, and there has since been more activity, but Bruce does not have all the details. It may be just coincidence, but on 4th December Bruce received a mailshot from First Group promoting their new improved bus service to ......... Portishead!
Bruce has also issued a press release condemning the decision by the Office of Rail Regulation not to authorise doubling of the line between Kemble and Swindon. He believe that this was covered by at least one local paper.
NEWS FROM RAILFUTURE BRANCHES AND COMMITTEES
Railfuture Wales have submitted a response to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Provision of Cross- Border Services. A copy of the submission is available from Railfuture South Wales secretary, Rowland Pittard. rowlandpittard1 at yahoo.co.uk
Following the announcement that that National Express East Anglia are to withdraw Restaurant Cars from the Norwich to London service and close the Norwich Call Centre. The Eastern Daily Press telephoned Peter Lawrence for Railfuture East Anglia Branch comments. Peters comments published in the EDP were: “Peter Lawrence, Norfolk-based president of pressure group Railfuture,
said: "The axing of the restaurant cars is a backward step. We've enjoyed a very good intercity service up to now and I hope this is not a foretaste of what might come. We are meeting with National Express in a couple of weeks and the proposed cuts will be one of the subjects that we raise. We will be lobbying hard against these proposals. "
The EDP also phoned Peter for comment on the fares increase. He was quoted as follows: "Peter Lawrence, president of Norwich-based pressure group Railfuture, said that an increase of 6pc was of "great concern". "Fuel costs are coming down and we should be seeing the same reduction in rail prices," he said. "While it may be to late to alter this situation for this year we would be looking to the government to take action in terms of some sort of fare freeze next year."
Railfuture Lincolnshire chairman, Alan Waddington, has also been quoted in the press deploring the above average fares increase. This was in a letter to the Lincolnshire Echo.
The next Railfuture London & South East Kent Divisional Meeting will be on Saturday 21st February at 2pm, in the ‘Elephant’, The Mall, Faversham. Going downstairs from platforms turn left along subway to leave by back of station. Continue direction and pub is 5 mins away. Sorry no food served in pub, but plenty of places to eat in town centre, which can be accessed from main exit of station, then along Preston St opposite
Travel Watch South West is organising a stand at Bournemouth Station on Thursday 8 January and Railfuture Wessex plan to be well represented. Our aim will be to publicise plans for the further development of rail services in the Wessex area, with a by-product of recruiting new members to Railfuture.
The latest issue of the Railfuture Yorkshire newsletter, Yorkshire Rail Campaigner, has just been published and is on the way to all Yorkshire branch members. If anyone would like an electronic version please email briefingeditor at railfuture.org.uk.
Lincolnshire Echo contacted Railfuture Lincolnshire president, Brian Hastings, on 4th December for Railfuture comments on the omissions from the December East Midlands Trains pocket timetable for Lincolnshire. The main destination for many passengers, Newark Northgate, is only mentioned as a footnote in small print with no arrival or departure times shown. Brian was generous to EMT in saying he thought it was just an error, not a deliberate policy to omit Newark Northgate connections now EMT run a direct service from Lincoln to St Pancras. This was in contrast to the views of other correspondents to the paper who considered the omission was deliberate. Railfuture Lincs vice chairman, David Harby, was interviewed by Radio Lincolnshire and made similar comments to Brian.
Railfuture Thames Valley Branch has a stall at the Oxford Green Fair on Saturday 13th December (http://www.greenoxford.com/content/view/123/1/). The stand is being organised by Hugh Jaegar who can be contacted by email at email@example.com or contact briefingeditor at railfuture.org.uk for phone numbers.
The 2009 conference in Northallerton will now probably take place in July. It is anticipated that a date will be finalised before the next briefing. The Board hopes to follow this with another conference in the autumn, probably November, but nothing has yet been finalised. Suggested locations are still being investigated.
Railfuture North East AGM is at 7pm on Thursday 15th January 2009. The venue will be Brunswick Methodist Church, Brunswick Place (off Northumberland Street) Central Newcastle. The speaker will be Warwick Dent of Network Rail. He will focus on capacity enhancements within the North East region. The Railfuture East Anglia AGM will be in Bury St Edmunds on 28th February 2009. Railfuture Wessex AGM will again be held in the United Reformed Church Hall near Bournemouth Station on Saturday 21 March 2009. Railfuture Lincolnshire and Railfuture Yorkshire AGMs will also be held on 21st March. When other branches arrange their AGMs please notify briefingeditor at railfuture.org.uk
A reminder that all Committee and sub-committee Chairmen should send their contribution for the Annual Report to Lloyd Butler (firstname.lastname@example.org) before 21st January 2009. As in previous years reports should be 500 words maximum, preferably nearer 300.
ELECTION FOR RDS LTD BOARD
Have you thought about standing for election as a director of The Railway Development Society Ltd? The Board meets 4 times a year. In addition directors are expected to take an active interest in some other aspect of the organisation such as committees etc. Recent meetings have been in London, Birmingham, Derby and Peterborough to try to give all directors venues that are not too difficult to reach. Other venues could be considered depending on the make up of the next Board. Directors are entitled to claim out of pocket expenses incurred in connection with their directorship. Nomination forms are available for download from the Railfuture website or by post from Railfuture Returning Officer, P.O.Box 7690, Hinckley, Leicester LE10 9WJ. Completed forms must be returned to the Returning Officer to arrive by 1st February 2009.
Following the tie in the 2008 elections the Directors at their meeting on 29th November agreed that to resolve the problem of who served for one or two years all those who tied for 5th, 6th and 7th place would be asked to resign after one year. Therefore in the 2009 election the 3 candidates with the highest number of votes will serve for 3 years and the 4th and 5th placed candidates for 1 year. As from the 2009 election all ties will be resolved at the AGM by drawing lots.
YEAR END AND OTHER FINANCIAL MATTERS
Would all budget holders and other committee members please note that our financial year ends on 31st December 2008. All expense claims and other invoices for payment should reach David Harby by that date. If you are responsible for expenditure incurred during 2008 but where the invoice will not be received until after the year end details should be notified to David Harby at the year end. Branch officers are reminded that your treasurer has a deadline of 31st January 2009 for submission of branch accounts to David Harby so if you have unclaimed expenses you should ensure they are with your treasurer before 31st December.
A revised Railfuture expenses form will soon be available with an additional note as follows:
The Finance Officer will endeavour to make payments by BACS within 3 days of receipt of the claim. Payments by cheque will be made at approximately 2-week intervals.
DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT NEWS
Railfuture have responded to the consultation on proposed new categories for minor modifications under the Railways Act 2005 which was mentioned in the last Briefing.
Included in the announcement on 25th November of £1bn to accelerate key transport projects was the delivery of 200 new carriages earlier than originally expected for rail passengers in the Thames Valley, around Bristol and on longer distance inter-urban services in Northern England and an extra £54m to help enhance the North London rail line to increase the long-term freight capacity of this vital cross-London rail route. The full package of improvements, delivered by Network Rail and building on investment by TfL, will restore four tracks from Dalston Junction to west of Camden Road, alleviate current bottlenecks, improve signalling and other infrastructure in order to provide new capacity for freight and rail trains. Barking-Gospel Oak Line User Group have pointed out that this scheme is still not planned to start until after the 2012 Olympics. “If the scheme were to start during 2009 as it was originally planned, and shown on Network Rail plans dating back to 2006, this could bring up to £40m worth of work to the steel fabricators and engineers of South Wales or the North East, to help these local economies out of depression.”
DfT press releases:
The follow up to Towards a Sustainable Transport Strategy, Delivering a Sustainable Transport System was published in late November. The Executive Summary “outlines our five goals for transport, focusing on the challenge of delivering strong economic growth while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It outlines the key components of our national infrastructure. It discusses the difficulties of planning over the long term in the context of uncertain future demand and describes the substantial investments we are making to tackle congestion and crowding on our transport networks. It sets out how we are approaching this through the new National Networks Strategy Group, which we illustrate with the conclusions from our analysis of the London-Manchester transport corridor and container freight. It covers our approach domestically and internationally to tackling greenhouse gas emissions from transport. Finally, it sets out the first steps of our future plans for investment to 2014 and beyond.”
Railfuture will be responding to the Consultation (Closing date 27 February 2009) If anyone would like to contribute to the Railfuture response please contact briefingeditor at railfuture.org.uk. The DfT document can be found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/about/strategy/transportstrategy/dasts/
Transposition of EU Rail Passengers Liberalisation Directive and amendment of regulation of HS1 - This consultation presents and seeks views on a draft Statutory Instrument to implement Directive 2007/58/EC on the liberalisation of international passenger rail services in Great Britain, and transfer some regulatory responsibilities in relation to rail link facilities from the Secretary of State to the Office of Rail Regulation. Closing date: 04 February 2009 See http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/
There has been plenty of activity on the ORR website in the last month. A selection is as follows:
30 October – confirmation of the 2008 periodic review that sets out what Network Rail will need to deliver in the five years from April 2009. Much of this has been extensively discussed in the railway press but if you want to read the full document it is at http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/383.pdf.
1 December - ORR's national rail review Q2 2008-09. This is summed up in the press release as follows: “In its national rail review published today, the regulator highlights the magnitude of works required to get the west coast main line project completed, as well as the extensive plan of works over the Christmas and New Year period. It also reminds the company of its obligation to comply with the order issued earlier in the year to address the failings in the way it carries out engineering projects.” http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/385.pdf
1 December - ORR's Network Rail monitor setting out performance figures for Q2 (22 June to 13 September). http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/384.pdf
Updates to the page with the latest available National rail trends spreadsheets are produced in MS Excel format. These have a considerable amount of background data, current and historic, on rail usage, rail performance, fares, freight, National Passenger Survey, regional usage profiles, sustainable development, TOC’s, miscellaneous (rolling stock age, investment etc). There is also links to the current NRT and archived stuff from ORR and SRA. See http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1540
31 October - Signals passed at danger (SPADs) report for 3rd Quarter 2008 http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1170
17 October - Responses to PR08: Consultation on network availability and the seven day railway http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.9337
4 December - Promoting safety and value in Britain's railways: ORR's strategy for 2009-14. A new strategy to promote safety and value in Britain's railways was published today by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), the independent safety and economic rail regulator. http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/388.pdf
PASSENGER FOCUS NEWS
The latest examples of Passenger Voice bulletins have recently been issued. They will give you a snapshot of the work PF are undertaking on behalf of passengers across Great Britain. The national version together with regional, Scotland and Wales bulletins can be be downloaded from the Passenger Focus website.
On 21st November Passenger Focus issued a press release entitled “Passengers warned: No new year sale on rail fares”. This criticised fare increases in tough economic times, forcing passengers to dig deep in their pockets come the new year. See http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/news-and-publications/press-release.asp?dsid=2000
New research revealing what passengers like and dislike about using ticket machines to pay their fare was released on 14th October. This research, conducted by South West Trains and Passenger Focus, showed passengers are still queuing at ticket offices despite knowing that ticket machines are available. Although 78% of people questioned in the survey said they had used ticket vending machines, a variety of reasons were highlighted for those who had not tried them including wanting a more personal service, being unable to get the ticket they required and not being sure how to use the machine. The report can be found at www.passengerfocus.org.uk
ROUTE UTILISATION STRATEGIES
The Draft for Consultation of the Merseyside RUS was published on 28th November 2008. Consultation closes on 20th February 2009. The draft identifies capacity concerns for peak traffic, both weekday commuters and, increasingly, Saturday shoppers. The RUS also considers the case for improvements on services to Chester, North Wales, Southport, Wigan, Ormskirk, Preston and Warrington.
The Wales RUS has also recently been released. The Wales area covers some 900 route miles of railway. The RUS identifies a number of gaps, many of which reflect the desire for more train services. Principally this is in south Wales, where capacity use is at its highest. See: http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browseDirectory.aspx?dir=\RUS%20Documents\Route%20Utilisation%20Strategies\Wales&pageid=4449&root=\RUS%20Documents\Route%20Utilisation%20Strategies
IS CAMBRIDGE MISGUIDED BUS RUNNING OUT OF MONEY BEFORE IT EVEN OPENS?
On 4th December Cambridge News Online reported that Cambridgeshire County Council chiefs have reassessed the financial risks of the Guided Bus scheme and are now classifying it as high risk. Developers were supposed to be contributing £23.7 million towards the scheme costs but only £12.7 million has been agreed. Because of the credit crunch some of the development schemes which were supposed to provide finance have been delayed and no cash has yet been paid to Cambridgeshire County Council. The full article about the latest problems for this misguided scheme can be read at:
A PowerPoint projector has been purchased from national and is available for use by branches. Branches who borrow the projector will be responsible for transportation and paying for any damage. Contact Jerry Alderson for details.
Readers who would like to see what passengers have to put up with on Liverpool – Norwich services are recommended to look at www.trainsardine.org
Railfuture Rail User Group Liaison Officer, Tony Smale, has moved to 63 Church Lane, Wool, Wareham, Dorset BH20 6DD. Tel: 01929 462116 Tony's email address is unaltered.
As many of you know, the December 2008 timetable brings many changes to the National Rail Network. The full national timetable is available for download from the Network Rail website at www.networkrail.co.uk. The National Rail website have the facility to download a customised timetable for specific journeys. There is also a link to individual TOCs where you can download their pocket timetables etc. See http://www.nationalrail.co.uk