Activist Briefing Issue 42

Activists Briefing

Issue 42 – 22nd February 2009


The major news item has been the release on 19th February of a report by Passenger Focus into value for money and European Fares comparisons. Railfuture media spokesman, Bruce Williamson, was interviewed in the morning by Nicky Campbell on Radio 5 live. In the evening Railfuture London & South East Chairman, Keith Dyall, was interviewed on BBC News 24.


After a long gestation the final version of our Electrification Paper, produced by Network Development Committee is now on the website, and can be found at www.railfuture.org.uk/tiki-index.php?page=Campaigns with Electrification headlined in Blue.

The announcement by ORR of their proposed allocation of paths on the ECML generated a lot of interest from the media in Lincolnshire. The media were confused as to whether the planned Lincoln to Kings Cross services were approved and, if so, when they would start. Railfuture Lincs Vice Chairman had detailed discussions with journalists from Lincolnshire Echo and Radio Lincolnshire trying to explain the intricacies of the decision. This was not easy given that ORR have effectively passed the Lincoln services decision back to DfT for them to sort out the mess they created by awarding franchises to EMT and NXEC which have conflicting SLC2 service requirements.

The highlight of the Railfuture Lincs AGM on 21st March will be a presentation from Network Rail outlining their Joint Line upgrade plans. The upgrade is to provide much needed extra capacity to enable freight to be diverted away from the ECML. All welcome.

Wakefield Kirkgate Train Station is a notorious no-go area. In October 2008 a young woman was raped and the Wakefield Express (Wakefield 's local paper) has reported countless other assaults and robberies. The Wakefield Express have had a massive amount of feedback from people who say they are too scared to use the station and fear for their own safety. But Northern Rail have said crimes were so few people should not be worried and has refused to put staff on the station. The Wakefield Express supported by Railfuture Yorkshire have now started a S.O.S (Staff Our Station) campaign.

Railfuture Yorkshire are urging every member of Railfuture to follow the link and sign the papers' on line petition and forward this request to every one you know that feels the station should be staffed. http://www2.wakefieldtoday.co.uk/kirkgatestation.htm
If any members are members of the facebook site please join the face book group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=48902326434

Dates and venues for 2009 Railfuture Freight Committee meetings are 4th April at Reading, 25th July at Peterborough, 18th September at Middlesborough (provisional) and 14th November at Sheffield. The next International & EU committee meeting will be in Derby on Saturday 18th July.

Branch AGMs are now underway and most of the ones still to be held are listed in Forthcoming Events. If enough branches send David Harby copies of their Chairman, secretary reports etc he will put them together into a single document and make it available to members via a later issue of this briefing.

Tony Smale, Railfuture Rail User Group Liaison Officer, now has a Railfuture email address ruglink at railfuture.org.uk


With the start of a New Year has come renewed activity in favour of the Oxford to Cambridge rail link. Following the distribution of a leaflet with Railwatch 118, Railfuture Press Officer Bruce Williamson issued a press release on 26th January. This appeared on internet BBC News Channel at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7851976.stm also on BBC East text pages. Following this press release, Cambridge Evening News and BBC Three Counties Radio, Bruce and Railfuture President, Peter Lawrence, were telephoned for comment. Peter was interviewed the following morning on the BBC Three Counties Breakfast Show. Bruce reports that the story was also picked up by Business Weekly but he has yet to see a copy of the article.

Peter Lawrence has sent copies of the leaflet to MPs with constituencies along the route and has had some very positive replies. Peter would be pleased to hear from any member who has had responses to the East West Rail Campaign.

Coincidentally, a news story headed “Tracks cleared for East-West Rail - A disused railway is being cleared so that engineers and surveyors can begin design work on the East West Rail” appeared at http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/england/oxfordshire/7851922.stm

There is also a very positive story headed “An investment in middle England” on the Environmental Transport Association website at http://www.eta.co.uk/node/11759. This describes the benefits that could come from the route and gives a link to the Railfuture web page www.railfuture.org.uk/ox-cam

The East-West Consortium have put some new documents up, one is a discussion paper prepared by Steer Davies Gleave covering the central section debate which is still unclear. The intention is to try to reach a consensus on a preferred routing strategy which can be fed into the East of England Plan review later this year. Source:


There are 7 candidates for the 5 available places on the Board as from the 2009 AGM. Voting papers will be despatched in early March with Railwatch 119.


Thank you to all branch treasurers and other account holders for ensuring that all the appropriate paperwork was sent to David Harby by 31st January. This has enabled him to make good progress with the year end accounts. At the time of writing the accounts are already with our Reporting Accountant for his inspection. All 2009 branch subventions have been paid except for one where some information is awaited from the branch treasurer.

Would all branches please take any opportunity you have to remind your members of the membership renewal arrangements that were introduced last year. The master copy of the membership database is now held by Deltic Design (Lloyd Butler). All renewal payments and requests for branch membership lists should now be sent to him at renewals at railfuture.org.uk. David Harby is still receiving some renewal cheques and requests for mailing labels etc. As he does not have up to date lists all he can do is pass correspondence on to Lloyd which costs Railfuture extra postage and delays any response.


With Easter not far away leaflets advertising tourist venues will soon be appearing. In their 'How to find us' section it is not unusual to find that rail is not mentioned even if there is a rail station nearby. Even some local authorities, who should know better, sometimes fail to even show rail routes on maps in their tourist booklets. The Railfuture Publicity Group have asked me to urge all branches to look for leaflets which ignore rail and to take the opportunity to educate the miscreants on the error of their ways.


On February 5th DfT announced another batch of schemes which will receive Small Schemes. Most of these are close to London. The full list can be found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/transportforyou/access/rail/railstations/ssf/smallschemes09.xls

Other potentially useful new documents on the DfT website are:

 The travel choices and needs of low income households: the role of the car - a qualitative study exploring the role of the car in the travel choices and needs of low income households. http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/scienceresearch/social/theroleofthecar/
 Exploring public attitudes to climate change and travel choices: - a report presenting the findings from an 18 month deliberative study that has explored public attitudes to climate change and how this relates to their personal travel choices. http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/scienceresearch/social/climatechange/
 Regional transport statistics: 2008 edition - http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/regionaldata/rts/regtranstats2008
 SSWT franchise Agreement - 2009 http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/passenger/publicregister/current/sswt/sswt.pdf
 Update on the Thames Gateway Transport Project - http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/strategy/growthareas/thamesgatwayupdate.pdf
 Revised policy for funding local and regional rail services promoted by local authorities and PTEs promises some local authority funding for new or enhanced rail services from 2014 – http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/strategyfinance/revisedpolicyfunding and http://www.dft.gov.uk/press/speechesstatements/statements/railservices
 Transport Trends: 2008 Edition - Introduction and complete pdf download. http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/trends/current/transporttrends2008


The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) proposed decision on applications for track access rights for passenger services on the East Coast Main Line (ECML). can be found at http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.9430

National Rail Trends Chapter 1: Rail usage, including: Passenger kilometres, journeys and revenue up to and including Q2 2008-09 was issued on 29th January - http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/rolling-c1-railusage.pdf

National Rail Trends Chapter 2: Rail performance, including Public performance measure, complaints, passengers in excess of capacity, and National Rail Enquiry Service up to and including Q2 2008-09 was issued on 15th January - http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.9304

The latest SPAD (Signals passed at danger) report covering Q4 2008 can be found at http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1170


Passenger Focus have published their Passenger Voice Winter 2009 stakeholder bulletins which can be found on the PF website at www.passengerfocus.org.uk. Also on the PF website www.passengerfocus.org.uk/nps is the Autumn 2008 National Passenger Survey. In the full report is a lot of detail for individual areas/routes that can be used by local campaigners as well as the overall national results.

Examples are evidence being used by Railfuture Wessex that on the main line from Portsmouth to London the suburban-style 3x2 seating on class 450 ‘Desiro’ trains is unpopular with passengers and plenty of evidence that the current Liverpool to Norwich services are totally inadequate and disliked by passengers who are fed up with overcrowded and unreliable trains.

Passenger Focus surveyed passengers in Yorkshire and Humber to provide evidence for their response to the Yorks and Humber RUS. Passengers said that solving overcrowding should be the top priority. Passenger Focus continues to research passenger needs on the railway in the Yorkshire and Humber region and will be presenting findings to Network Rail before it finalises the Route Utilisation Study later this year. Source and more details from http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/news-and-publications/press-release.asp?dsid=2109

Readers will recall that there are many objections to National Express East Coast plans to install automatic ticket gates at York. There is a very direct and to the point letter on the PF website from the PF Passenger Link Manager to National Express setting out PF views on the proposals. With regard to the NXEC intention to require Grand Central passengers to buy a ticket before boarding PF say that “It would be quite wrong for a station operator to dictate that a train company may not offer passengers a simple turn up and go railway.” “when a train company elects to offer the facility to simply get on board and worry about paying during the journey it is a good thing from a passenger perspective. After all, what could be simpler?” The letter can be found at http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/news-and-publications/document-search/document.asp?dsid=2093

With regard to South West Trains plans to make even more job cuts Passenger Focus manager Jocelyn Pearson said: "With fares going up and passenger numbers rising year on year it is very worrying to hear of job losses. Passengers need staff for advice and information and to feel safe while travelling. It is a tough economic climate but cutting passenger facing staff on public transport is not the answer and will be met with utter disbelief by those travelling tomorrow." Source: http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/news-and-publications/press-release.asp?dsid=2356

As mentioned earlier in this Briefing Passenger Focus’s Fares and Ticketing Study was published on 19th February. Some of the conclusions and recommendations are:

 The price of commuting to London is high in comparison with other European countries and these commuters rate value for money lower than in other parts of England, Wales and Scotland.
 The price of commuting to other major cities in Great Britain is lower than to London, but in most cases is still more expensive than commuting to the principal city in other European countries.
 Passengers see the key issues as punctuality, reliability, being able to get a seat and good information during service disruption.
 The long distance fares structure needs to be (and needs to be seen to be) fairer to passengers. It requires greater transparency and needs to be simpler.
 Develop discounted travel for frequent commuters for whom a traditional season ticket is not cost-effective (e.g. 10 single journeys for the price of eight carnet books)
 The long distance fares structure must be simpler. Existing simplification was about presentation only – the underlying structure is still seen as complicated and not logical (e.g. two singles may or may not be cheaper than a return, return £1 more than a single).
 The price of flexibility is too high – passengers are baffled by the huge gap between the cheapest and the most expensive fares on the same train (the fact of which is confirmed in the PF European research).
 Increase flexibility by allowing passengers to pay the difference between what they have paid already for an Advance ticket and the appropriate new ticket if they miss their train or need to change their plans. Flexibility at an affordable price was highlighted in the employer’s research.

Source: Press release http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/news-and-publications/press-release.asp?dsid=2530


On 9th February Network Rail called for tough sentences when they announced that the number of people breaking the law at level crossings is at a five year high.

During the last year the cost to Network Rail of level crossing misuse has been estimated at £1.8 million. This was from over 55 days of delays to trains and passengers. Network Rail went on to point out that the real cost to the industry far exceeds this, as it does not include actual damage to trains or tracks or staffing time and cost. Nor does it include extra costs incurred by passengers whose journeys are disrupted.

Last year, there were more than 3400 incidents of misuse at level crossings. On average, more than three motorists a week were involved in a near miss, where a train narrowly avoided missing them because they ignored warning signs and lights or weaved round barriers. There were 20 collisions between trains and motor vehicles for those that didn’t beat the lights.

Pedestrians were also putting themselves at risk with more than five a week involved in near misses. If a train hits a person at high speed, there is almost always only one tragic outcome. Sadly, 15 people lost their lives at level crossings in 2008.

Recorded level crossing offences for the last 6 years were in 2003 – 2158, 2004 – 2348, 2005 – 2839, 2006 – 3221, 2007 – 2896, 2008 – 3479.

The press release pointed out that:
 Level crossings are safe if used correctly
 95% of accidents at level crossings are caused by misuse or error– i.e. drivers ignoring red signals, barriers and klaxons.
 There are over 7,600 level crossings both on public and private land that cut across the UK railway network.
 British deaths at level crossings are low by international standards – amongst the lowest in Europe and worldwide

Source - press release http://www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=4149&NewsAreaID=2&SearchCategoryID=2

On 10th February Network Rail issued a press release “Cotswold rail scheme hits new milestone”. The scheme to bring restores 20 miles of track between Evesham – Moreton-in-Marsh and Ascott-under-Wychwood - Charlbury, has entered the final stages of design. Source Network Rail press release http://www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/content/detail.asp?ReleaseID=4164&NewsAreaID=2&HUserID=878,776,885,850,779,865,881,845,765,674,677,767,684,762,718,674,708,683,706,718,674


The Conservative Party has been very active on transport issues recently. On 3rd February they launched a Commission on Transport in the North to identify the transport priorities for the North of England of a Conservative Government. Everyone is invited to have their say on what they think is good and bad via the Commission's website so whether you are a party member or not now is the time to let them know what you think.
See http://www.conservatives.com/News/News_stories/2009/02/Hague_launches_Commission_on_Transport_in_the_North.aspx

On 11th February The Shadow Transport Secretary, Theresa Villiers, outlined the conclusions of our rail review in an eight-point plan designed to reform Britain’s rail network and provide a long-term vision for Britain’s railways. The eight points listed on their website are:

 A high speed line linking London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds
 Putting passengers first by introducing a Passenger Champion to hold Network Rail and train franchise operators to account when they fail
 A reformed Network Rail
 Better co-operation between track and train
 Longer, better franchises for train operators so they can invest in longer trains and longer platforms
 Improving innovation in rail improvements
 An end to Whitehall meddling in areas like timetabling and buying new rolling stock
 A moratorium on building on disused rail paths

Source: Conservative Party website http://www.conservatives.com/News/News_stories/2009/02/Getting_the_best_for_rail_passengers.aspx

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